Connect with us

News

Meet Lorenzo Ortiz, a Mexican American Pastor Welcoming Asylum Seekers

For Lorenzo Ortiz, a Mexican American Baptist pastor, welcoming asylum seekers is the way to live God’s will.

Pastor Ortiz and his family live in the border community of Laredo, a place that has become the leading U.S. trade port, but also has the highest concentration of poverty in Texas. Its sister city, Nuevo Laredo, is both a manufacturing center and dangerous battleground for cartels and Mexican authorities.

Pastor Ortiz has been living and working with asylum seekers since 2017. First, when the Obama administration ended the decades long “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cubans who reached U.S. soil to stay in the country, he helped Cuban asylum seekers in Nuevo Laredo. Then, in 2018, when the Trump administration had the Border Patrol drop hundreds of asylum-seeking families at the Laredo bus station each day, he first arranged to shelter them at the Emmanuel Baptist Church and then brought them to his home.

Pastor Ortiz recalled one particular story about an asylum seeker from the Congo. He was a teacher.  When a student in his classroom fell ill and later died, her influential parents arranged for him to be jailed and later violently attacked his wife and children, forcing him to flee Congo. After a long and arduous journey to the U.S. border, DHS almost deported rather than release him, as he did not have a close relative or friend to stay with. But, while staying at the Pastor’s church, he connected with a friend from his hometown living in New York and moved there to pursue his case. The moment of welcome the Pastor gave this man surely saved his life.

READ  Nigerian governor, Zulum, laments cost of feeding IDPs

When, in the summer of 2019, the Trump administration began forcing asylum seekers to wait in danger and deprivation on the Mexican side of the border for their court hearings, Pastor Ortiz opened shelters for them in Nuevo Laredo. He also shuttled them to security in Monterrey and back to the port in Laredo for their hearings. A bricklayer by trade, Pastor Ortiz built a pizza oven so that asylum seekers could support themselves and contribute to the community while they waited.

The Pastor’s approach stems from his faith and his own background. In 1982, when he was 16 years old, his father brought him to the United States from Mexico in the hope of finding a way to support his large family. “We didn’t choose the country we were born in. We also didn’t choose the social position that we’d like to have. From there we have to try and do more.”

This is all part of a ministry focused on the idea that everyone, no matter their station, be a good Samaritan. A border network of Baptist churches—funded by private donations—works to cultivate this approach to supporting asylum seekers and migrants. “If with so little, we’ve accomplished a lot… As a nation, without a doubt, we can do much more,” he said. And certainly, provide for the basic needs of people seeking protection at the U.S. border.

READ  Edo Taskforce assures continued support for returnee migrants

The Pastor put himself at great risk of harm by the cartels in order to help asylum seekers in Nuevo Laredo, claiming that “God calls us to give our lives if it’s needed for his service.” The Pastor felt compelled to do this, too, since neither the Mexican nor U.S. government was ensuring the security of the asylum seekers or providing them with any support.

His experience reaffirmed his belief that a better approach is to allow asylum seekers to wait for their hearings with relatives and friends in the United States. “These people are not criminals, and I am sure about this because we have eaten meals together, and I slept near them.”

In late March, the Biden administration began to allow select asylum seekers in the Remain in Mexico program who had been waiting in Nuevo Laredo and had tested negative for COVID-19 to enter the United States to pursue their claims. Pastor Lorenzo is helping ensure they have temporary shelter and coordinate their travel arrangements. He would gladly do the same for other asylum seekers who have been, and continue to be, expelled to Mexico ostensibly because of the pandemic, but without a truly persuasive public health rationale. There is no “cause for alarm,” he says, and remains focused on the work of safe and humane welcome.

READ  Nigerian migrants’ sojourn in Middle East ends in woes

People seeking refuge at the border “are simply looking for a chance to live,” he says. “The more we live knowing the specific needs of these families, the more that God will show us what we can do about it. We can be those people that form a part of that help, that hope.”

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
12 + 3 =


News

IOM launches open South America portal

International Organisation of Migration (

Buenos Aires – IOM, the International Organization for Migration, this week launched the Open South America Portal, a web platform providing migrants and stakeholders in the region with access to reliable and timely information on human mobility restrictions and health and safety measures adopted by governments in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open South America, available in SpanishEnglish and Portuguese, shares official information by country on the latest measures, including border restrictions, quarantine requirements and COVID-19 tests for migrants and travellers.

The portal also provides updated information on authorized entry points and key places for travellers and migrants, such as consulates, migrant care and health centres, airports, border crossings points and ports. This information can be explored through an interactive map.

The platform, funded by the IOM Development Fund, is also accessible to vulnerable migrants who may be stranded or are at risk of receiving misinformation on migration.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, South America has been one of the most impacted regions worldwide. According to the World Health Organization figures, as of 8 July 2021 there were 33,475,765 COVID-19 cumulative cases in the region, which represents 89 per cent of the total cases in Latin America, and 18 per cent of all infections recorded globally.

READ  Migrants wait in bread lines, while tourists dine on grilled octopus in Greece

Countries such as Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador all experienced severe outbreaks. For example, Brazil currently reports the third highest number of cumulative cases (18,855,015) and second highest death toll (526,892) globally.

“Open South America will facilitate orderly, regular and responsible migration in South America amid the uncertain times of COVID-19 and after the pandemic,” said Minister Ana Laura Cachaza, General Director of Consular Affairs of the Government of Argentina.

“Migrants’ access to up-to-date information through innovative online tools is essential considering the changing migration dynamic in the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for South America.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

29,000 Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians, other Africans migrated through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2021 —IOM

The International Organisation for Migration has said that 29,000 individuals including Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalians and other Africans have emigrated to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea this year.

About 13,000 were arrested by the coast guards and returned home while 761 migrants were said to have perished in the sea.

Disclosing this to journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr Franz Celestin, said less than five per cent of migrants usually made it to Europe, adding that the vast majority stay in Africa.

He further said that a lot of migrants were trafficked within the Economic Community of West African States, adding that Mali was the number one destination point for trafficked Nigerian women.

Responding to questions on the number of people who have undertaken the perilous trip to Europe through the Mediterranean, the IOM Chief said, “A combination of unemployment and underemployment is pushing people to migrate.

READ  Over 500,000 displaced people in Benue allegedly excluded from #10b disaster fund by FG

“In this year, 29,000 migrants from Sub-Sahara Africa have migrated to Europe through the Mediterranean. About 13,000 were intercepted by the coastguard while 761 died.”

International Organisation of Migration (

Celestin stressed the importance of tackling human trafficking which he said grossed about $150 billion annually.

“Traffickers make a lot of money and they would continue to do it until a coordinated response is evolved to stop them. We are collaborating with Interpol in this respect; we are connected to the Interpol i/247 database. We connected the MIDAS to the Interpol database where we pass the information on traffickers to the Interpol,” he stated.

Celestin explained that the IOM has been involved in the biometric registration of children in the North-East, noting that the agency has registered no fewer than 17,053 children in 18 different internally displaced person camps between 2019 and May 2021 in Borno State.

The agency chief also disclosed that IOM was involved in the G7 Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Compact for North-East.

READ  Edo Taskforce assures continued support for returnee migrants

 

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
Continue Reading

News

FG condemns killing of Nigerian footballer in UK

Kelvin

The Federal government has condemned the alleged killing of a Nigerian Footballer, Kelvin Igweani, by the UK police.

Recall that Igweani, a Nigerian Footballer, was shot dead by officers, who attended a call out to a house, where a child was found with serious injuries.

Reacting, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in Abuja on Wednesday described the incident as very unfortunate,and sad.

Dabiri-Erewa condoled with the family of the deceased and the Nigerian communities in the UK while praying that God grants rest to the soul of the departed.

“We call on the UK government for a thorough and proper investigation to be carried out on the incident,” the statement added.

Support Voice for African Migrants


Support VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS journalism of integrity and credibility.

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
* are compulsory
cardlogos
READ  New safety measures allow Malian refugees to return to camp in Burkina Faso
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Voice for African Migrants. Site Design: Semasir Connect