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Nogales Migrant Aid Group Changes Protocol To Avoid Spread Of Coronavirus

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

Kino Border Initiative has been providing meals, legal assistance and other aid to migrants in Nogales, Sonora, for more than a decade. But with the spread of the coronavirus, it's moved to only the most essential services.

"Which is making sure that people are fed," said Katie Sharar, KBI's communications director.

She said student and long-term volunteers will no longer be helping at the soup kitchen. And they’ve moved from serving migrants sit-down meals twice a day to a take-out model — migrants line up one by one at the door to be served meals to-go.

“This is the work of the hour to be treating the people in the margins with dignity and care and respect," Sharar said.

Though they've cut back on other services like legal assistance and education programs, she said they are still providing some other aid to migrants when possible.

“It hasn’t been stripped away entirely, but because we need to focus on the most, most essential of services, meals are our priority at the moment,” she said.

Changes to migration policy and the closure of the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the coronavirus pandemic are creating a lot of uncertainty for migrants and the organizations that support them, Sharar said. But they are responding to changes one day at a time.

"That's all we can do," she said.

KBI inaugurated a  new, larger shelter and soup kitchen last month, and had started to move services to the new building. But with the spread of the virus, she said that's been put on hold.

But she hopes people on both sides of the border will remember that vulnerable populations, including migrants, will have the hardest time protecting themselves and their families during this coronavirus crisis.

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease  

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.