Today I’d like to start the newest series, Charity and Non-Profit organizations in Mexico, with the Border Rights Clinic, a refugee program that is part of Al Otro Lado, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in California. Al Otro Lado started as a project in 2012 between Nora Phillips and Esmeralda Flores, a completely unfunded, informal alliance between two close friends who were committed to the same thing but on different sides of the border. Nora, Esmeralda, and a group of very dedicated volunteers, colleagues, and friends have collaborated on countless cases since and have succeeded in facilitating the return of several people back to the US after they were deported, via lawful mechanisms such as the U Visa, the Credible Fear screening process for refugees, and Humanitarian Parole.
The Refugee Program works with asylum seekers and their families in Tijuana, Mexico who wish to present themselves to U.S. authorities. The organization is also involved in legislative, media and legal advocacy efforts to challenge systemic human rights violations perpetrated.
Nicole Ramos directs the Border Rights Project. She works with U.S. based attorneys who have case investigation needs in Mexico or need assistance understanding how to navigate Mexican state systems and social service programs. She also writes expert declarations on discrete issues in Mexican asylum cases.
The Border Rights Clinic joined Al Otro Lado in December 2016. For several years, Al Otro Lado held large-scale legal clinics for deportees and refugees. Nicole Ramos ran a small private office that functioned more as a nonprofit, focusing on individual representation of refugees. Combined, the organization is now able to do both, provide legal clinics, and direct representation of clients.
Nicole: (Working with the Refugee Program) “has turned my life completely upside down. I feel like every day I am at war with a system intent on destroying the spirits of human beings and that is exhausting. I am also at the same time uplifted by the resiliency of my clients, their determination to survive, and they give me strength and hope to move forward. Working this whole year without a salary has humbled me, and made me realize what is important, and what is not merely a luxury out of reach, and not important at the end of the day.”
The Border Rights Clinic is in need of volunteers on both sides of the border. To get involved, complete the volunteer application here. Another way you can help is by providing short- and long-term housing for asylum seekers. If you are able to host an individual or family of asylum seekers, please email Jose Mares (firstname.lastname@example.org). Cash donations are also always welcome. A donation of $500 USD to the Border Rights Project would provide individual Legal Orientation for five detained asylum seekers. A donation of $5,000 USD would pay for one Refugee Clinic which provides legal orientation for up to 50 refugee families.