who we are and what we stand for

By Bella Perreira and Tristyn Thomas

Remember when immigrants in cages were breaking news? When the world’s attention was turned towards the inhumane conditions faced by those forced into detention centers?

Despite the absence of coverage in recent media, these problems haven’t gone away. In fact, they’ve only worsened while the public looks elsewhere.

Even San Diego, a city with close proximity to the US-Mexico border, is paying less attention than it should be. The Otay Mesa Detention Facility in southern San Diego used to process around 100 asylum seekers per day; now, due to a recently implemented policy known as Metering, that number is down to 20 as seekers are essentially 'waitlisted'. Around 11,000 people are currently still waiting for their cases to be heard, many of which have been cast out into Tijuana due to the Migrant Protection Protocol policy. The Otay Mesa detention center has, in recent years, received one of the highest volumes of sexual assault complaints in the country. These issues are extremely close to home and affecting many of the people who live in our communities.

Youth for Border Aid is a non-profit organization founded by San Diego youth that want to make a change. We are made up of students who are tired of watching human rights continuously being overlooked and violated in the name of nationalism. We want better living conditions for detained immigrants; better medical, psychological, educational, and career resources; better adherence to legal provisions for those seeking asylum. Most of all, we want better from and for our community. We want to show policymakers and the world that we value humanity and compassion over borders.

Our goals are not only grounded in direct action. Youth for Border Aid commits to mobilizing the youth and providing educational resources on such a pressing, vital topic. We want to set our peers on a path of lifelong activism because we are most powerful when we constantly advocate for change.

As we join alongside other local organizations such as Border Angels and MEChA, we implore you to fight with us. Regardless of your political orientation, this is a human rights issue that cannot be ignored. We have the power to create the future we want to see. Don’t just wait to see change- become it.

Youth for Border Aid was founded in 2019 by Tristyn Thomas, Elena Itzcalli-Medina, and Isabella Perreira. We currently operate in the South Bay area of San Diego, and are focused on expanding their volunteer base as well as planning local events. Follow our social media accounts to stay updated on upcoming opportunities to get involved!

Instagram/Twitter: @youth4borderaid

Facebook: Youth for Border Aid

Website: youthforborderaid.org