A Diary from a HIAS PA Staff Member

"January 21, 2019

Tijuana Day One–

And so it began.

This morning, seven students and three faculty from the University of Pennsylvania’s Transnational Legal Clinic traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to volunteer with Al Otro Lado, or AOL, an organization that works with refugees seeking asylum and protection from the lives they left behind. Our work today did not include going to the border between Mexico and the United States itself. That will be tomorrow. Instead, we dived right it, doing whatever work was needed and our skills would allow.

Our orientation was relatively brief, perhaps 90 minutes in total. But in that time, we learned about the work, the guests we would serve, the area where we were located, and the dangers inherent in working with a population that both the Mexican and U.S. governments have deemed undesirable: men and women whose lives have been turned upside down by the violence that surrounds them, seeking protection within a system that has closed its doors to all but the very few."

Ayo Gansallo, Senior Staff Attorney, went to the Tijuana border for a week in January. Learn more about what is happening at the border from Ayo's daily blogposts.