Colectivo de Casas Santuarios:
On the ground in Tijuana we are helping to build a support network for a cooperative of refugee-run autonomous safe houses called “Colectivo de Casas Santuarios.” The safe houses in this cooperative include:
Casa de Luz-
A LGBTQ+ group of refugees that formed while walking north from Honduras in order to protect and support each other from rampant homophobia in Mexico and their home territories alike. The group has also taken in families with special needs kids that were traveling at the very end of the caravans and in dire need of a group to travel with and housing support at the border. Casa de Luz is in a safer neighborhood of Tijuana father away from immediate danger and hostility which provides security and support to the most vulnerable populations within the refugee community. Donate to Casa de Luz.
Casa Contra Viento y Marea-
A group of refugees and accomplices whose roots began while traveling north in the November caravan together and continued as they did their 6-day occupation in which hundreds of refugees refused to be evicted and placed in insecure and corrupt shelters administered by the Mexican government and against the interests of those who lived there. Once the occupation ended many members from the warehouse stayed in Tijuana to organize within the refugee community or were rejected asylum. The particular group from the warehouse that organized this collective living space can also be found working at El Comedor Contra Viento y Marea in Zona Norte, Tijuana on a daily basis.
Casa Hombres Centroamericanos (HCA)-
A group of male refugees who came up with the Fall Exodus and have gone through the legal asylum proceedings but have all been returned to Mexico to wait for their court hearings in the US due to the new “Remain in Mexico” or “Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)” policy. The house is organized by the guys themselves and is acting as a safer space for them to live while they are in the asylum process. Every member of the house has a full-time job in Tijuana and consider each other not just a safety network but also a family.
Casa Hogar el Puente-
Casa Hogar El Puente is a place for asylum-seeking migrant women and children who have been returned to Tijuana under the Migrant Protection Program (MPP), where many of them have to wait for months in Mexico for their cases to be resolved. It is a space where migrant women and children from Central America and other parts of the world can come and receive housing, loving community, clothing, and information about the asylum process and other resources in Tijuana. It will serve as an example of autonomous shelters in Tijuana and a model of small scale safe houses in the city that can be generative centers to build a life in common.
This project is being birthed from the visions and learnings of three Honduran caravan members in Tijuana, who have been moved by the immense need for safe housing options for refugee families. As the Central American community in Tijuana is becoming more established because of MPP and continual migration, Casa Hogar el Puente hopes to shift the perception of Central American migrants here in Tijuana so they can be respected for their contributions to the city. The space has capacity for 25-30 women and children, who will be rotating through on a ~2 month basis. During this time, they will be resourced with information about next steps, and connected with local job opportunities. There will also be food vending and other events based out of the space to help with creating purpose, building community, and fundraising.
Donate to Casa Hogar el Puente.
Colectivo de Casas Santuarios is a cooperative of refugee houses that unite on the basis of centering refugee independence/decision-making and being autonomous from the government and non-profits. The casas work together by sharing donations, resources, knowledge, skills and community events. By working with other grassroots organizers we hope to build a support network for the casas in this cooperative by organizing a team of medics, attorneys, psychologists and detention support that can be on call at any given moment for the members of these houses.
As Hecate Society we believe in horizontal decision making which is why we have chosen to invest our resources and energy into alternative and autonomous refugee safe houses as opposed to government, church and/or non-profit run houses that have a top-down decision making structure. With thousands of refugees currently stuck in Tijuana for an indefinite amount of time due to new polices like the “Remain in Mexico Policy” refugees are at extreme risk of being caught and killed by their perpetrators from their home territories while remaining here. More than ever with thousands of migrants in this extremely vulnerable position, we believe it is important that safe houses start being organized autonomously from the government. In a way that is safer to refugees and actually organized by refugees themselves. As crossing the so-called border into the “United States” becomes harder and harder everyday, Tijuana is becoming more refugees’ final destination or years long waiting point. Communal housing projects and centers such as those that are apart of Colectivo de Casas Santuarios are ways for refugees to support themselves, their community and get involved in creating safer spaces for refugees to live in as long as they need while in Tijuana.
Comedor y Jardin Contra Viento y Marea:
After the closing of the Contra Viento y Marea, Benito Juarez Warehouse, refugee shelter, organizers from the collective desperately needed to find a way to feed people. Impromptu kitchens in apartment complexes, street corners and tent cities was not sustainable and people were starving. Organizers of the collective worked together to find and rent an industrial kitchen in El Centro, Tijuana. The space opened early February, just two weeks after the warehouse occupation ended. The center is run by Contra Viento y Marea collective members, refugee organizers that are committed to keeping the kitchen running and thriving for the following years as more caravanerxs come to live or pass through Tijuana. The kitchen serves around 200 people a day for both lunch and dinner. Refugees and anyone else who could not afford to eat otherwise is welcome in the space to eat and take donations from the rooftop donation center that generally has clothes, toiletries, medicines, blankets, tents, childrens toys and shoes available. Amongst the kitchen and donation center, we have a rooftop edible garden that has been growing for the past couple of months as the compost system, worm bins, vegetables and herbs are beginning to thrive. Contravientoymareatj.com.
Art & Media:
We aim to create a revolutionary paradigm for building collective power and healing trauma by using art and media. We hope to use Hecate Society as a platform that can bring decentralized support to refugees, particularly LGBTQ+ femme and youth voices to produce their own narratives and bring their own voices and stories to the forefront. We hope to acknowledge and raise awareness around how the exodus is directly intertwined with indigenous sovereignty and climate change. We believe that media and art can be used not only to reframe problematic narratives and build alternative ones, but also, as a form of therapy, to heal identity and community based trauma. The content we produce is created through a mutual exchange of ideas, using casual interviews that also serve as therapeutic and healing moments that can help us and the interviewees process traumatic experiences and beautiful experiences alike. When we build our content, we are building deeper friendships. We aim to capture the totality of people’s humanity, suffering and most importantly, their resistance. We try to bring awareness to the militarized US + Israel fueled and funded genocide of refugees . We also like to lend our skills and knowledge around art and media to help refugee organized collectives build platforms to fundraise off of and build momentum with.
Our detention support team was birthed out of a huge scarcity of support for refugees while they are being processed in detention centers. As our team in Tijuana supports the construction of refugee-run autonomous spaces and works tirelessly on mutual aid projects with LGBTQ+ and political and activist refugees there is a huge need for the mutual-aid to be continued once folks are able to cross the border. To continue the support of refugees in which our collective builds deep relationships with in Tijuana after they cross the border, our team in Oakland is building a detention support and legal aid project. For this project, our team works in collaboration with lawyers in nation wide. The four areas of support that this project offers for people in detention is 1. Legal Aid– having pro-bon or low-bono lawyers sign G-28’s for people’s cases, paying for low-bono lawyers, prepping for Credible/Reasonable Fear Interviews, doing appeals if needed, helping connect people to bond loans 2. Sponsorship– Helping people get in contact with family or friends in the US that could potentially sponsor them, connecting people to organizations that help find sponsorship for refugees with their specific identities in cities that they want to be placed in 3. Commissary Money– When there is no available monetary support from people’s friends or families we fundraise money to put money in people’s commissary (Even though we do not want to support privatized jails and detention centers, it is necessary for people to be able to speak to their lawyers).
We are currently supporting many trans and queer refugees in detention and are seeking to help build lgbtq+ support/sponsor teams in most large cities for these compxs in their post-detention life. Please reach out to us if this is a kind of support you would want to help with.
While some of the above initiatives and spaces were started by Hecate Society, some of them were not. This project section acts more as a consolidated list of projects that we engage with and spend all of our time, energy and resources on while working in conjunction with numerous other grassroots organizers and wonderful refugee activists.