Migrant Aid Group Opens New Shelter In Nogales, Sonora

By Kendal Blust
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 3:28pm
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 4:36pm

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KBI inauguaration
Katie Sharar/Kino Border Initiative
Kino Border Initiative inaugurated its new migrant aid center in Nogales, Sonora, on Feb. 12, 2020.

For more than a decade, migrant aid and advocacy organization Kino Border Initiative has provided meals, first aid and other services to migrants in a tiny building just south of the Mariposa Port of Entry.

Now, the organization is moving its operations to a new, 19,000-square-foot center, said Katie Sharar, KBI communications director. The expansion means more space to provide food, legal aid and medical assistance. It also has added shelter spaces for men, women and children, and transgender individuals, and classrooms for job training, English and computer classes, and courses for migrant youth, Sharar said.

"It allows us to better respond to the current needs of migrants in Nogales," she said. "And of course those will shift. There’s nothing that’s true about the border, but that it’s constantly changing.”

She also hopes it helps provide migrants with the dignity they deserve.

“I hope it sends the message that they deserve to be comfortable, and they deserve shelter, food, education, medical care," she said. “I hope it’s a continual reminder of their worthiness and their dignity.”

KBI raised close to $1.5 million from donors on both sides of the border to purchase and remodel a former factory building into the new aid center, according to a press release. It took the group nine years to find the right location. Services will gradually move from the old building to the new shelter in the coming weeks.

"It's a mix of emotions. Mostly excitement," Sharar said. "But I think the comedor (old building) has meant a lot to a lot of people.”

KBI has served close to a million meals in the last 10 years at the smaller building, she said. And the move to the new center also signals permanence.

“At the old comedor, there was just a sense that maybe whatever is happening at the border is going to pass eventually. There will be fewer deportations or there won't be so many people who have to leave their homes," she said. "With the expansion, it's, you know, this border crisis, we’re it for the long haul.”

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