Director’s Message for Summer 2023
This quarter’s newsletter makes me think about two ProBAR values: Resilience and Adaptability.
Together, ProBAR finds a way forward in the face of adversity as we zealously defend the rights of our clients. Since my last message of introduction as director, I have witnessed ProBAR staff live out our values of resilience and adaptability in response to two horrific tragedies in our community and a major border policy change. In early May, an eight-year-old girl tragically died while in CBP custody in Harlingen. Just days later, eight of our new neighbors were killed by a man who senselessly drove through a group of migrants waiting at a bus stop outside the Ozanam Shelter in Brownsville, Texas. In between these tragedies, we welcomed the ending of the harsh Title 42 policy but also prepared to adapt to uncertainties of new policies limiting access to asylum at the border.
I was able to see a reflection of ProBAR’s true self in our response to the horrific tragedy in Brownsville. ProBAR staff lived out our values of resilience and adaptability by turning our sorrow into zealous advocacy for the victims and their families. Staff rushed to the survivors’ legal aid by showing up to the shelter the day after the tragedy to conduct intakes, provide legal information and access to services for many people who might have been victims of a crime in the United States.
For weeks following the tragedy, ProBAR partnered with several organizations including Border Workers United, United Way, Together & Free, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the Victims Assistance Program at the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, La Unión del Pueblo Entero, several Rotary Clubs, and many caring residents of the community to provide support to grieving families who lost their loved ones and injured survivors at the hospital.
Some ways in which ProBAR staff helped included accompaniment to the police department, securing temporary housing, temporary funding for medical needs, advocating on behalf of clients with immigration agencies such as ICE, legal assessments for U visa applications, and more. Most importantly, we worked together to ensure people were treated with dignity, respect, and compassion.
Of course, we could not do this alone, and it was incredibly meaningful to band together with other caring residents of the Rio Grande Valley and key community organizations.
About four months into my tenure, I could not be prouder to work alongside such passionate colleagues who rise to the occasion in the face of adversity. For this, and so much more, I am ever grateful to share this reflection and some key updates about ProBAR in the last quarter.