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Sheltering Hope Along the US-Mexico Border: New Short Film

 Sheltering Hope Title

Their stories are harrowing. The murder of children, and death threats at home. No work, no crops, no food. Unavoidable violence and a feeling that the only way to get to safety is to flee home. The journey to seeking asylum is not safe. Many experience new traumas like kidnappings and rape. Some cross the Rio Grande and narrowly escape drowning. Once they ask for asylum in the US, some are separated from family members in detention, and don’t know when they will be released or reunited.

When they are finally released, however, clinicians and volunteers at shelters across the US-Mexico border step up to give them basic care, and some hope for the future. The workers provide basic medical screenings, a warm meal and a hot shower, and assistance in coordinating their next step, which is typically to buy a bus ticket from the border to towns across the US where their families or friends await their arrival.

Arrivals getting off a bus

These workers are the topic of the new short film, Sheltering Hope: Migrant Families on the Southern Border.

“We wanted to shine a light on the great work that people all along the border were doing to welcome people with dignity and respect, when they had been scared and had to leave their families and their countries,” said Marsha Griffin, MD. She, along with Deliana Garcia, Director of Emerging Issues and International Projects for Migrant Clinicians Network and videographer and producer Diane Weinkopf,  traveled along the entire US-Mexico border, from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas, to document the stories of border shelter workers and share their tenacity, resilience, and hope. The result is the seven-minute film, which Migrant Clinicians Network shared with border shelter partners and a live audience on Facebook Live last week. “This premiere is dedicated to all of you who we met along the way, who shared your heart and your souls,” Dr. Griffin added.

Workers on the border speak with migrants

The film highlights how shelters started simply because help was desperately needed – and continued because the need continued.

“People don’t leave because they want to leave. People leave because they don’t have any other choice,” said Anna Landau, MD, MPH, from Casa Alitas Welcome Center in Tucson, Arizona, in the film. 

“Our purpose was not to receive immigrants coming to our door. But if we don’t, who does?” noted Pastor Mike Smith, of the Holding Institute, Inc., in Laredo, Texas.

Dr. Marsha Griffin meets with recent arrivals at the border

Consequently, the work continues. Asylum seekers move on to their new homes, while the workers stay behind, and prepare themselves for the next day. As border regulations shift once again this month, promising an increase of asylum seekers permitted to enter the country, their work is more needed than ever. 

The film is available in the full seven-minute version with Spanish subtitles (select the subtitles under “Settings” on YouTube), and the shorter trailer version.

Learn more and support the work of the shelters featured in the film:

Jewish Family Services, San Diego, California

Casa Alitas Welcome Center, Tucson, Arizona

Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition, Del Rio, Texas

Mission: Border Hope, Eagle Pass, Texas

Holding Institute, Inc., Laredo, Texas

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, McAllen, Texas

La Posada Providencia, San Benito, Texas


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