Capital Region Border Watch – Team Brownsville, Day 3

Capital Region Border Watch made their way to Texas this week to give aid and a voice to the crisis that is happening at the border. Florence Abrams has been giving updates from the effort.

I learned last night that Josh Rubin came back from his border crossing and told those of us by the park (which, it turns out, is a very small area,) that the shots and the assembling of the troops was one of the occasional “exercises” that Josh thinks is meant to intimidate with a show of force.

Today four of us started the day at 4:00-4:30 am to go watch a deportation departure at the airport with some other volunteers, Josh Rubin, and his main co-coordinator, Tom.  Again I will not go into details here, but I will tell you that major barriers are used to keep  “observers” from witnessing the boarding of the planes by the deportees.  What did I get to see?  Part of people walking with their hands manacled in front of them and ICE employees shackling their ankles. 

Then a number of volunteers under Josh and Tom’s direction temporarily blocked the two buses that had transported the deportees to the airport from leaving until the police came and we were directed to move. A group of volunteer students studying immigration law at Central Florida University and their professor also filmed and reported the event on Facebook Live. The police recognized Tom and he was warned that he will be arrested the next time he is there blocking the buses.

Josh told us that he does not know how early the buses arrive because he has never been able to get there before the buses arrive.   He told us that asylum seekers in Mexico must be at the border by 4 am when they have an 8:30 am court appearance and that some people stay in a town an hour away from Matamoros and must hire a driver to bring them to the border.

All of us spent fro 10 am-2 pm helping World Kitchen chefs prep food for the asylum seekers.  Nice welcoming people and  what a wonderful service they provide to people in disaster areas all over the world.  I learned how to prepare plantains for cooking and how to cut them on a fancy diagonal and did other assorted chopping, peeling, and cleaning duties.   We were joined by some of our fellow volunteers from the airport, a volunteer from Maine who we met at the park yesterday, and a group of volunteers from Lancaster/York PA.

There are not all that many volunteers here but I want to say, “New York rocks.”  Both upstate and downstate New Yorkers probably constitute the majority of volunteers here.

We continue to take it day by day (or less) regarding the extent to which the coronavirus situation will affect our volunteering.

Hasta la proxima

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