An Arizona nonprofit recently launched two new websites that can be used to help migrants currently travelling to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Robin Hoover, president of Migrant Status, Inc. worked with the help of Mexico City-based journalist Laura Garciandia to get valuable information about traveling through Mexico to Central American migrants via a downloadable PDF guide available at guiamigrantes.com.
The guide, written in Spanish, includes information on transit methods and routes, criminal organizations and their known locations to avoid, tips for crossing through the desert safely, emergency resources, first aid advice and more.
Hoover had been working with the idea of compiling and publishing information for migrants to use while travelling to the border for quite a while. In his experience, information is what could help them most.
“Up came the idea of the [online] migrant guide and then some people in Mexico approached me saying they had very similar ideas,” Hoover said. “People need to understand more about the route and what public resources are available. We started sandwiching these things together and a lot more is going to go on the website.”
Creating an online guide that was accessible to migrants came with its own set of obstacles. Hoover said his team had to figure out how to get the information to those with limited internet access. That’s where the second website comes in.
Robinhoover.com is being repurposed into a tool for shelters in Mexico. They can download a PowerPoint version of the guide and have it displayed in shelters 24/7 so migrants without their own cell phone or internet access can view it. The website is also used for outreach to promote long-term relationships between nonprofit groups who want to help and the shelters that need it. Hoover said such a partnership could help get resources directly to migrants at a higher efficiency rate.
“There's not a U.S. or Mexican authority that's putting resources directly into the service providers hands,” he said. “There are religious groups, friends, but not the government. Folks in the U.S. who want to help, we can take them down there to do face-to-face introduction.”
Hoover has been involved in advocacy for 33 years. He founded Humane Borders in 2000, which is a local faith nonprofit that maintains a system of water stations for migrants travelling through the desert to use. He left his position in the organization in 2010, and retired from ministry two years later.
Despite the change, Hoover said he is still very active in advocacy for migrants and the issues they’re facing today. He’s been working “quietly” on specific projects, experimenting with satellite locator beacons for migrants and issuing flashlights for rescue operations. He published a book in 2016 called “Creating Humane Borders.” In it he gives an ethical analysis of border policies, an overview of the help faith communities provide and his recommendations for policy reform. He lectures and goes on speaking tours as well.
“There's a lot of people who want to do the right thing and [learn] how they can help,” Hoover said. “The resistance is just this hate-filled Trump administration and all the anti-immigrant sentiments. It means that any kind of substantial reform is still a long ways away.”
Migrant Status, Inc. is actively seeking contributions to continue dispersing valuable information to migrants. Contributions can be mailed to 2250 W. Painted Circle, Tucson, AZ 85745.
“Five dollar contributions make all the difference,” he said. “When I ran Humane Borders we raised a quarter of a million dollars and it was a Mississippi of five dollar bills, so what people contribute really does matter.”