How asylum seekers relate to Border Partners–one volunteer’s perspective

People cross into El Paso from Juarez at the Paso Del Norte port of entry.

By Billie Greenwood

You probably don’t know me, but you know my work. I’ve been the Border Partners website manager almost since its beginning. I met Border Partners while volunteering in El Paso 15 winters ago. This winter I again helped process incoming immigrants in El Paso, folks seeking asylum in the US. 

Volunteering in El Paso is a different type of volunteering than writing and uploading photos for you. I was face-to-face with people I hear about on the news: 

  • Haitians, 
  • unaccompanied minors, 
  • Central American migrants, 
  • families who languished in Mexican shelters for months as they awaited the opportunity to enter the US.

Billie Greenwood, in her plain volunteer dwelling in El Paso

All of them would have preferred to be back home. Wherever “home” was for them. But, they felt forced to leave. Some were forced by violence, others by poverty. These lucky “few” I served in El Paso somehow eluded the man-made barriers that trap most in peril and force them to remain in Mexico.

Border Partners, on the other hand, helps people be able to stay at home in or near the Palomas border. When living conditions improve, people don’t have to leave. Migration is hard. It’s better to help people stay.

Through its history Border Partners has weathered seasons of violence in Mexico. It remained stable throughout political shifts and election changes. It works respectfully with all people and has earned respect in return.

I’m proud of what Border Partners does. Even better, I love how they listen to people’s needs and partner—never dictate—to improve lives. 

Whatever we can do to help people stay home is very important.

1 thought on “How asylum seekers relate to Border Partners–one volunteer’s perspective”

  1. I highly disagree with the current immigration law of the USA. I came here in 1973, legally, so can the next person. First of all, I knew long before I immigrated that I needed to be fluent in English in order not to be a burden to society. I came with a business education, I followed the law to a T, stood in lines at umpteen offices for hours, once I waited a whole day and went back late afternoon without being seen. I even had to have an international vaccination certificate. At the time I received my green card the immigration officer told me: “One traffic ticket, young lady, and we will send you back to where you came from”. I have been a naturalized, proud, voting, U.S. citizen since December 1985. If I can do it, so can the next person. Don’t come here and expect the rest of us to support you. Integrate culturally or do not immigrate! Forever grateful to live in America!!

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