November 28, 2018

Charlene Khoo, Program Coordinator, NLGSF,, 415-285-5067 x101

SAN FRANCISCO- The National Lawyers Guild SF Bay Area (NLGSF) condemns the recent escalated attacks on Central American migrants seeking asylum at the U.S./Mexico border. A contingent of NLGSF legal volunteers will travel to the border this weekend to offer critical legal assistance during this crisis.

The 4000-strong caravan of Central Americans fleeing political and military violence arrived in Tijuana, Mexico in mid-November, after traveling for months this summer. The caravan was led by a contingent of LGBTQ migrants, which arrived days ahead of the larger group. Organizations on both sides of the border, including Al Otro Lado, Pueblos Sin Fronteras, National Lawyers Guild and others, have been quickly mobilizing to support migrants seeking asylum and shelter in Tijuana.

Natalia Santanna, immigration attorney and Guild member, shared this after volunteering there last week, “While talking with asylum-seekers in San Ysidro, I noticed that most had no information about asylum law, and about what would happen in terms of prolonged detention and the horrid conditions of detention in the United States. There is a huge gap in information now which could be preventing people from making well-informed decisions about how to proceed. The U.S. government’s illegal policy of limiting the number of individuals who can request asylum each day is a violation of the right to seek asylum, and is what is behind the current situation in Tijuana. This is a humanitarian crisis and I urge everyone who can to go to Tijuana and help.”

On November 25, the U.S. federal government shut down a major port of entry, deployed hundreds of police in riot gear and began firing canisters of tear gas at migrants–including young children and toddlers–attempting to seek asylum in the U.S.

NLGSF opposes the use of militarized weapons and tactics against any human being, regardless of citizenship status, age or criminal history, as well as the denial of political refuge for those seeking it. These heightened attacks on migrants are a continuation of the United States’ role in creating the conditions for forced migration through U.S. imperialism and neoliberal trade policy.

“The NLG has a long history of supporting and defending those facing state repression in all forms. We recognize the right of asylum seekers to seek refuge under U.S. and international law, and are horrified by this administration’s actions to escalate both the militarization of the border and the criminalization of migration. We call on the immigration law community to join us in Tijuana to defend the rights of those seeking asylum in the United States.” says Alisa Whitfield, NLGSF Board member and immigration attorney.

NLG and Al Otro Lado have issued a call for legal volunteers at the Tijuana/San Ysidro border over the next few months as the need for asylum application support and legal observers grows. To volunteer, please fill out this form.

In response to this call, members of NLGSF’s Immigration Committee, including activists, legal workers and attorneys, will head down to the border this weekend to lead legal trainings for asylum seekers and provide legal observer support. The NLGSF contingent will also be delivering supplies from the Bay Area to border encampments. If you have items to donate, please contact Charlene Khoo at by Thursday, November 29 to arrange for drop-off.