Friday morning, officials with the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, Inc. (DMRS) announced that the organization had received two grants to help them in their mission to assist migrants in the area.
The first, from the El Paso Bar Foundation was a grant of $3,700; the second larger grant was for $56,000 from the Meadows Foundation.
DMRS officials say the award from the El Paso Bar Foundation will support ongoing efforts by DMRS to provide services to immigrants and asylum seekers, including those waiting in Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP program often referred to as “Remain in Mexico.”
“It is DMRS’ pleasure to collaborate with the El Paso Bar Foundation in order to provide free and low-cost legal services to indigent and underserved immigrants through its generous grant of $3,700 to help provide a Legal Assistant for the DMRS Removal Defense Unit through the Loretto Volunteers Program,” said Catherine Hudak, Director of Development at DMRS.
This award also supports a partnership with the Loretto Volunteer Program, a project of the Loretto Community, a welcoming and inclusive Catholic order of sisters with a 200-year history of advocating for peace and solutions to social injustices.
The Loretto Volunteer supported by this grant will serve one year as a legal assistant in the Removal Defense Unit at DMRS.
Meanwhile, the Meadows Foundation award will be utilized to provide legal services immigrants and asylum seekers who are in Immigration and Customs Enforcement Custody (ICE) in El Paso, Texas.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Meadows Foundation for this grant that will allow us to ensure that asylum seekers in the El Paso region receive the representation of an attorney. Statistics show having legal representation increases the chances of winning an asylum case by more than five times,” said Melissa M. Lopez, Executive Director of Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, Inc.
This funding is particularly crucial as immigrants remain in ICE custody amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the ICE website, there are currently 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the El Paso Processing Center as of October 25, 2020.
The facility has seen a total of 283 cases of the coronavirus since testing began at the facility in February 2020.
The Meadows Foundation is based in Dallas, Texas and strives to exemplify the principles of its founder in addressing basic human needs by working toward the elimination of ignorance, hopelessness and suffering; protecting the environment; providing cultural enrichment; encouraging excellence; and promoting understanding and cooperation among people.