Santa Fe Dreamers Project, along with our partners, is so proud to introduce our newest venture: the El Paso Immigration Collaborative, or, as we fondly call it, EPIC. EPIC is a collective of legal services organizations from New Mexico, West Texas, and around the country that harnesses TECHNOLOGY, LAWYERS, and LOVE to demolish the detention industrial complex on the border. We are thrilled to announce that after months and months of planning and scheming, on August 1, EPIC opened for business.
What does that mean?
It means that for too long, in spite of the brilliant, hard work of the local advocates here in El Paso, the sheer number of ICE detainees in New Mexico and West Texas and the dehumanizing denial of due process in the El Paso Immigration Courts makes it almost impossible to reach all of the people who need representation. EPIC leverages the existing services in the 4 (soon to be 5) detention centers in the region to collect critical information about each and every detainee. Then, using a tech platform custom built for this project, we will track people through the detention system and, using a nationwide network of pro-bono lawyers, bring representation to everyone who is eligible for release from prison on bond or parole. Tracking cases will not only help us bring lawyers to people who need them most, but it will also help us understand the dynamics of El Paso's detention ecosystem, discover where ICE and the immigration courts are vulnerable to attack, and collect much needed data points to support litigation. We are going to figure those pieces out as phase one and then push further to learn how to bring asylum representation into the equation for all of the people who are ineligible for early release. Technology. Lawyers. Love. It isn't going to be easy and we know it is going to be messy-as-hell but we are going to trust in our partners, in our creativity and big ideas, and in the people who support us as we move forward. Technology. Lawyers. Love.
How can you support EPIC?
Stay in touch with our organization to learn about updates. Below you will find links to all our social media and of course, our mailing list (you are already on it if we emailed you, but maybe tell a friend or family member). Everything is changing and moving fast in the borderlands right now and we try to be an excellent source of accurate, first hand information so that you and your community can stay informed.
Donate to support the agencies working hard on the ground. Of course, this means a donation to Santa Fe Dreamers Project. But the partner organizations involved in this collective are: Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of Southern NM, Innovation Law Lab, the Immigrant Justice Campaign, and the Immigrant Protection Project of the ACLU of Massachusetts. We love all of these people so much and their work is amazing and we are all very much in this together. When your friends ask you, who do you know who is getting it done on the border-- here is one list that you can give them.
Material donations. We know amazon wish lists are easy but here is the thing: Amazon sucks and does terrible things assisting our government in tracking down immigrant and refugee families. It is not a secret. So rather than spend your money there, if you are interested in sending goods, you can email our director Allegra at email@example.com and find out what we need in the moment and send it to our address at 1401 E. Yandell Ave, El Paso, TX 79902. In that spirit, here is what we most definitely need:
Copy paper, white, basic, LOTS of it.
A few large white boards for scheming
Cases of Lone Star Beer
Gonna throw this out here: we need to rent a house in El Paso. We have multiple staff members at SFDP and our partner organizations, including our director, Allegra, who have spent way too much money on hotels and airbnb's over the last six months of trying to get this project off the ground. Sweetheart donors or El Paso property owners, you heard it here first: we need a place for brilliant legal operatives from around the country to crash so that they can be here in the center of it all do what they do best.
Eventually (but not quite yet) we are going to need volunteers-- people who are willing to come to El Paso and be our on-the-ground soldiers for this project. Like we said, we are not quite ready to recruit volunteers but this is on the horizon, keep your eye on it. We will need you.
We hope you are as curious and excited about EPIC as we are. We hope you believe, like we do, that we are always closer to solving our problems when we embrace collective power. You: our friends, supporters, and donors are a part of that collective power. Stay in touch! Get excited! Thanks so much for being there!