Andrea Cárcamo is CVT senior policy counsel.
When I entered Annunciation House, an organization in El Paso, Texas, housing individuals who lack support due to their immigration status, it was full of adults and children with varying shades of cinnamon-colored skin. I looked to my left: there was a door leading to a room full of supplies, which I later learned were donations to meet the needs of refugees who came primarily from Central America. It made me feel good about the world, especially since we are facing one of the worst refugee crises in history—a time when we are constantly confronted with reports of fear and xenophobia in many nations, as well as in the rhetoric of the Trump administration.
All around me at the house, adult guests were at work and appeared to be running the place, while the children ran around playing with each other. They gradually began to surround us, likely wondering what we—a group of nine immigration attorneys—were doing there.
All around me at the house, adult guests were at work and appeared to be running the place, while the children ran around playing with each other. They gradually began to surround us, likely wondering what we—a group of nine immigration attorneys—were doing there.”
The house was colorful, with beautiful murals covering the walls. Upstairs, there was a dining room large enough to seat 30 individuals. The guests looked tired but seemed at peace; the rooms swarmed with gratitude and hope.
The woman who showed us around was donating her time; Annunciation House is volunteer-run. She seemed to know the place pretty well, and was extremely friendly to us. Three days later, when I visited Ciudad Juarez, I met Taylor, the only attorney on staff at Annunciation House at the time of my visit. Taylor clearly had a lot of experience representing individuals on both sides of the border and had an extremely heavy caseload. Her goal was to help individuals get to other family members and friends in other parts of the country, where they could find more support to heal from the traumatic experiences they survived.
Because of the outstanding service Annunciation House—along with its executive director Ruben Garcia—provides to refugees and torture survivors arriving at the southern border, we made a decision to give them CVT’s 2019 Eclipse Award. They’ve worked tirelessly for decades to serve as an oasis for asylum seekers. After making an unimaginable trek from Central America and experiencing what were likely negative encounters with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), newcomers are received with open arms at a place where many of them can finally rest before continuing on their journey towards applying for asylum.