On May 8, 2024, Marylin Carrillo, ACLU-SDIC Imperial Valley community liaison, gave testimony at the Calexico City Council meeting urging the council to approve the bid submitted by the Calexico United Methodist Church to create a welcome center to provide assistance for people seeking asylum...

UPDATE: The Calexico City Council voted to return the funds to the state rather than providing much needed support to people seeking asylum passing through the city. The council was operating with only three out of its five representatives after a recall of two councilmembers on April 16, 2024.

Good evening, Mayor Romo and Councilmembers.  

My name is Marylin Carrillo. I am the community liaison for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties based in Imperial County, and a former resident of Calexico.   

Welcoming people seeking asylum with dignity and respect is a deeply rooted value in Calexico and our nation.    

It is our moral and ethical responsibility to provide assistance to our most vulnerable populations – especially people fleeing persecution who often arrive in our city with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.  

People exercising their legal and human right to seek asylum arrive here in search of safety, but without the necessary resources, they continue to face uncertainty and vulnerability.  

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is dropping off people seeking asylum, most of whom are simply passing through Calexico and urgently need a safe place for temporary shelter, food for themselves and their children, and support in reaching their ultimate destination.  

Local nonprofits and volunteers supporting people seeking asylum are operating at full capacity, straining their resources to the limit.   

The state’s $2 million in funding has given us an opportunity to demonstrate our core values: extending a warm welcome to newcomers, treating them with respect and preserving their dignity, even as they experience some of the most frightening and uncertain times in their lives.   

These funds are designated specifically for people seeking asylum. They cannot be reallocated elsewhere.   

If the council chooses to reject the state’s assistance, it sends a message to the entire country that we do not live up to our local or even our national values.   

Rejecting these funds would be irresponsible and morally reprehensible. It would be to the detriment of our entire region – including the people you serve.  

Rejecting this support puts people seeking asylum – families, children and adults fleeing violence and persecution – on our streets for an unknown amount of time without a way to get to their destinations.  

Our local nonprofits can better meet the needs of people seeking asylum with the state’s financial support.  

Day center and wraparound services can provide a safe haven where individuals can receive the support they need to reach their ultimate destination in the U.S.   

This council can prioritize humanity by accepting the proposed bid and supporting the needs of this population, who face unique challenges and risks during their journey, by using the money that has already been allocated.   

We the People strongly urge the City of Calexico to retain the allocated funds and approve the bid from the Calexico United Methodist Church. By doing so, you are helping to create a welcoming infrastructure for people seeking asylum and providing assistance to get them to their final destination.  

Thank you for your time and consideration.