Border Action Team

Since 2017 the Florence Project has worked in partnership with the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) to provide legal services to migrants in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. A program that started with one attorney has since grown to two attorneys and three legal assistants in just three years.

The Kino Border Initiative is a binational organization located in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico that provides humanitarian assistance and accompaniment with migrants, engages in social and pastoral education with communities on both sides of the border, and participates in collaborative advocacy efforts to change immigration policies. Its vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.

Over the past several years, escalating attacks on access to asylum have led to restrictive policies at the U.S. Mexico border, including metering, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), the Title 42 border closure, and bans on asylum for people who have passed through a third country on their way to the U.S. In partnership with the Kino Border Initiative, we work with regional and national partners to preserve and restore access to asylum and provide legal services to migrants in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. We have also taken a leadership role in coordinating logistics in both Arizona and Mexico between legal services and humanitarian aid organizations to meet and assist thousands of migrants at the Arizona Mexico border. Through this work, we empower migrants to make decisions about their immigration cases.

The Border Action Team provides legal orientations to migrants who arrive to KBI’s aid center in Nogales, Sonora. We also provide pro se assistance and legal representation to some migrants who seek asylum in the U.S. and are later detained Through this work, we work to ensure that migrants are empowered with the information they need to make decisions about their immigration cases.

The story of Yosbel and Yarlenis exemplifies the critical, lifesaving work our Border Action Team does, and the current situation on the border.

Over the past several years, attacks on access to asylum have increased at the U.S. Mexico border, including policies like metering, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), and Title 42. In partnership with KBI, we also work with regional and national partners to preserve and restore access to asylum, which has been subject to increasing attacks for years. We have also taken a leadership role in coordinating logistics in both Arizona and Mexico between legal services and humanitarian aid organizations to meet the needs of the hundreds, or even thousands, of vulnerable migrants at the Arizona Mexico border.

Our Border Action Team (BAT)

  • Provides orientation and legal consultations in Nogales, Sonora, MX.
  • Supports drafting declarations and asylum applications.
  • Advocates for those in the most dangerous situations such as kidnapping, facing severe medical issues, extortion, cartel violence, and harm due to sexual orientation.
  • Works to reunite families at the border separated due to violence.
  • Participates in strategic media involvement with major news outlets such as PBS NewsHour, VICE, and the Washington Post.
  • Builds coalitions with migrants at the border and with national partners to fight back against policies blocking people from asylum.

The Current Situation at the Border

In January 2020, MPP (also know as “Remain in Mexico”) was implemented at the Arizona border. A border wide policy that forced nearly 70,000 people seeking asylum to wait in Mexico for court dates in their asylum cases, it has endangered the lives of every single person subjected to it. While President Biden halted new admissions to the policy when he took office, the rollback of the policy has been unwieldy and slow, and the people we serve in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico have been largely forgotten in the initial phase.

Additionally, since March 2020, the border has been effectively closed to all migrants. Virtually no one has been allowed by CBP to present at ports of entry, and anyone who crosses the border between ports of entry is immediately expelled back to Mexico without seeing an immigration judge or having their safety considered.

This policy, known as Title 42, was issued by the Trump administration despite objections by senior CDC medical experts that it lacked a public health justification. Thus far, the Biden administration has elected to keep the policy in place. Like people who have been subjected to MPP, people expelled to Mexico under Title 42 are in grave danger: our clients continually report extortion, kidnapping, threats of violence, injury, and illness while in Mexico.

In response to these significant challenges, the Florence Project’s Border Action Team is currently maintaining a seven day a week presence on the ground in Nogales, Sonora, with at least two people present each day to ensure that people who are in MPP, expelled under Title 42, or newly arriving to the border have access to high-quality legal services. We can only do this work with your support. Thank you for making this work possible.

Our Partner

The Kino Border Initiative is a binational organization located in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico that provides humanitarian assistance and accompaniment to migrants, engages in social and pastoral education with communities on both sides of the border, and participates in collaborative advocacy efforts to change immigration policies. Its vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality.

BAT in the Media

“It should not take a call to a congressperson for a child with blood clots in the brain or [a] tangled spinal cord to be considered urgent humanitarian circumstances and therefore allowed into the U.S.”

BuzzFeed News, January 2022

“If you look at the history the border over the last 20 years, increased walls within cities then pushed people into deserts. So, if there’s walls and deserts, it is going to push people into canyons and rivers, where people are likely to have even more dangerous crossing.”

PBS Newshour, March 2019

“The problem with Title 42 is they’re not even being given a chance to be heard. The disparate treatment on the ground leads to feeling of arbitrariness. You can’t explain it to people fleeing harm.”

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project is proud to be the recipient of a generous gift from the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, commonly known as the Victory Noll Sisters, to strengthen the Florence Project’s Integrated Social Services Program and Border Action Team.   

Established in 1922, the Victory Noll Sisters have been dedicated to fostering justice, standing in solidarity with marginalized people living in poverty and oppression, and promoting the development of leaders. The Sisters have made this legacy donation to the Florence Project as an organization that has similar values that resonate with the Victory Noll Sisters’ mission and that also serves in Arizona, one of the states where the Sisters have served.

Read full announcement here.  

Thank you, Victory Noll Sisters, for the generous gift!  

To learn more about the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, visit their website or watch their Centennial video. 

Testimonials

Questions

Our Development Team would be happy to speak with you!