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City of Albuquerque Steps Up to Assist Asylum Seekers Easter Weekend

Mayor Keller outlines city assistance to 100 asylum seekers, announces capacity building efforts with other cities and partners for coming weeks.

April 21, 2019

Today, the City’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) confirmed that the City of Albuquerque is aiding 100 more asylum seekers during Holy Week, stepping up to help ease burden on the border. In partnership with Indivisible Nob Hill, the City of Albuquerque is working with the City of Las Cruces to provide basic support to lawful asylum seekers as they travel to join their sponsors across the country.

The City has played a supporting role in helping asylum seekers by coordinating the efforts of faith-based and non-profit organizations in Albuquerque. In March, Mayor Keller joined the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Catholic Charities, Lutheran Family Services and Albuquerque Interfaith in calling on the people of Albuquerque to come together in support of those in need passing through the city.

“The City has been taking on a larger role, leading the effort to help 100 more asylum seekers during this Holy Week,” confirmed Mariela Ruiz Angel, OIRA’s Project Coordinator. OIRA hosted a volunteer training on Friday, where they taught over 50 individuals how to help asylum seekers in varying capacities. 

Volunteers have been providing critical services like free medical exams and language translation. This weekend, First Lady Elizabeth Kistin Keller joined the team to help with translation efforts.

Mayor Keller’s administration is working with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security, the New Mexico Department of Health, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Mayors Alan Webber and Ken Miyagishima, and other partners to build capacity for an expected influx of asylum seekers. The City and State are working together to identify a low-cost site for asylum seekers who pass through Albuquerque on the way to their sponsors. By creating a statewide network, these partners aim to prevent asylum seekers from being released on the streets without assistance in traveling to their destinations across the country.

“For many of us, it is our faith that guides us to helping others, no matter where you’re from, the color of your skin or who you love. Holy Week is a poignant reminder that we must stand for the least among us. These families have traveled thousands of hard miles to legally apply for asylum in our country and to forge a new life for their families. We have seen many Burqueños step up to help in recent weeks by donating and volunteering. Local faith organizations of all types have also stepped up in a huge way and have led the support for these folks on their journey,” Mayor Keller said.

“In partnership with local organizations, we are proud to help these families and ensure that they are receiving what they need before traveling to their sponsors in other cities,” said Michelle Melendez, Director of the City’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“I appreciate Mayor Keller and the City of Albuquerque for helping us out down here. Taking these asylum seekers for a couple of days a week will give our team a chance to regroup and prepare for the next group that Border Patrol drops off,” said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima.

“Our main goal is to be supportive, helpful and do everything we can to add to the effort to handle this in a smooth, efficient and humane way,” said Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber. “We stand ready to help.”

Asylum seekers arriving in Albuquerque have usually endured a long and difficult journey that includes weeks of walking and a long bus ride from the border. Local organizations have worked closely together to ensure that when migrants arrive, they receive a basic medical examination, food, access to showers, clothing and toiletries, and a place to sleep.