In January 2019, the U.S. government enacted the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which forces asylum seekers to “Remain in Mexico” while their court cases are heard. Asylum seekers live in unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps in dangerous Mexican border towns.

There have been over 800 documented violent attacks on asylum seekers, with countless others going unreported. Thousands of asylum seekers are unable to make it to court because they have been kidnapped, killed, or dangerous living conditions have forced them to abandon their cases and leave the region.

Of 62,000+ people subjected to  MPP, only 6% have an attorney, and less than one percent have won their case.


COVID-19 threatens to worsen this humanitarian crisis – and the Trump Administration is using the pandemic to further erode US asylum law. For Houston resources on COVID-19, visit our Living Document.


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In January 2020, a delegation of Houston nonprofits and pro bono counsel went to Brownsville to witness the humanitarian crisis and provide pro bono services. Watch the video to learn more about what is happening in Matamoros, Mexico and how humanitarian and legal services organizations are responding


Brownsville / Matamoros

Project Corazon

  • Project Corazon, run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation in partnership with nearly 40 top law firms, was created to help reunite families separated by the administration’s inhumane “zero-tolerance” policy. Since the launch of Project Corazon, they have mobilized thousands of lawyers to defend the rights of immigrants and their families.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

  • The Project Dignity Legal Team, based in Brownsville, takes on full representation of asylum seekers going through the MPP process.  They provide direct representation at no cost to those who cannot afford it. Project Dignity also handles appeals for those who do not win their cases.
  • To donate, select “donate for a project” and select “Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley”

Justice for Our Neighbors: San Antonio Region

  • JFON’s Border Project focuses on removal defense, assisting immigrants required to wait in Mexico for their asylum and immigration hearings in the United States and outreach to those living in the colonias in an effort to help residents apply for residency, if a legal path exists.

Global Response Management

  • GRM has treated over 3,000 patients and provide emergency medical care for conditions such as appendicitis, third degree burns, pneumonia, influenza, severe acute malnutrition, and more, Their teams of high trained medical volunteers work in the camp seven days a week to help families facing acute and chronic medical conditions get the medical care they need.

To donate, select “Matamoros” from the drop-down menu

Team Brownsville

  • Team Brownsville operates three relief programs in Matamoros, Mexico, immediately across the Gateway International Bridge. They serve breakfast and dinner to the over 1,800 people living in camps and shelters in Matamoros.

Angry Tias and Abuelas

  • The Angry Tias and Abuelas’ mission is to provide basic necessities for health and safety and support for human dignity and justice to individuals and families seeking asylum at our borders and as they embark on their journeys to designated destinations in the US

El Paso

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center

  • The mission of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center is to provide high-quality legal services to low-income immigrants, and to advocate for human rights.  Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center is dedicated to combating the Remain in Mexico program as it continues to violate due process.

Diocese Migrant Resource Service of El Paso

  • Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. (DMRS) is the largest provider of free and low cost immigration legal services in West Texas and New Mexico.  They provide a comprehensive range of immigration legal services including representation in family-based immigration matters, Citizenship/Naturalization matters, matters related to benefits for survivors of domestic violence and other crimes, removal proceedings before the Immigration Courts, and services for adults and unaccompanied immigrant children detained in the local immigration detention centers and shelters.


  • HIAS opened an office in Juarez and plans are already underway to expand to Monterrey, Tijuana, and Mexicali. The Juarez office provides people with legal services and information, including legal assistance for asylum in the US and Mexico, legal representation to stay in Mexico, and Know Your Rights workshops.
  • HIAS has also launched an emergency response program to ensure that asylum seekers have access to legal representation. They places Border Fellows with partners Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, and the El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC); and one fellow is working with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) in Brownsville, Texas.


  • CLINIC’s Estamos Unidos Asylum Project relies on volunteers from across the country to provide legal assistance for migrants who fled persecution in their home countries and wait at the U.S.-Mexico border in Juarez to apply for asylum in the United States. Launched in August 2019, the project responds to the urgent needs of forced migrants, thousands of whom wait in Mexico while their asylum requests are processed in the United States.
  • In addition to legal representation and guidance, volunteers provide regular Know Your Rights presentations, case preparation and referrals, as well as various tools for migrants to obtain information and protect documentation needed for asylum proceedings. The asylum process is complex and difficult. The project focuses on helping people prepare for it and connect with legal representation. CLINIC also works with legal service providers, mental health experts and other professionals to support waiting asylum seekers.
  • To donate, select “Estamos Unidos Asylum Project” under “Donor Campaign” drop-down menu.

Annunciation House

  • Annunciation House is a volunteer organization that offers hospitality to migrants, immigrants, and refugees in the border region of El Paso, Texas. Since its founding in 1978, it has provided shelter, clothing, food, and other basic necessities for hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America. It also participates in advocacy and education around immigration issues and seeks to be a voice for justice and compassion, especially on behalf of the most marginalized of our society.

Contact Congress

Call your representative and two senators. Find them here

​Sample Script

My name is _______ and I am a constituent from Houston, Texas (give zip code). I urge Representative/Senator ________ to defund and terminate the harmful Migration Policy Protocols (MPP) policy.

DHS must be held accountable for violations of the rights of migrants due to their policies.

Asylum seekers should be allowed to wait for their asylum hearings in safety within the United States, not be sent to harm in Mexico to wait for months. I am alarmed that they are being returned to dangerous Mexican cities where they are at risk for kidnapping and extortion.

I implore you to speak out against these policies. My community welcomes and values immigrants & refugees, and as someone who represents my community, I urge you to do the same.

Project Corazon

  • Project Corazon, run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation in partnership with nearly 40 top law firms, was created to help reunite families separated by the administration’s inhumane “zero-tolerance” policy. Since the launch of Project Corazon, they have mobilized thousands of lawyers to defend the rights of immigrants and their families.

HIAS works with a generous network of pro bono attorneys to provide legal services to asylum seekers, asylees, and others who are seeking humanitarian relief.

HIAS engages lawyers across the country to engage in pro bono legal work through volunteer delegation trips to the US/Mexico border, and in remote representation of asylum seekers in appealing the denial of their asylum claims. Pro bono attorneys receive ongoing support from HIAS in the form of mentoring and access to a library of resources. As part of our effort to provide wraparound services, HIAS also provides pro bono attorneys with connections to its wide network of social services partners so that their clients can benefit from other vital resources while their cases are pending.

They are actively recruiting new Pro Bono Attorneys! 

In early 2017, Jones Day created the Laredo Project, a full-time presence providing legal information and representation to women refugees detained on the border. The Laredo Project now includes a full-time trial site operation in Laredo, Texas; hundreds of trial teams working remotely across the country; and a team of talented appellate lawyers.

Each week, they bring in a volunteer team of six to eight lawyers and two translators on the ground in Laredo, supported by a full-time staff of four paralegals and two lawyers. These teams conduct “Know Your Rights” presentations and provide information about the asylum process to women refugees fleeing gender persecution, gang violence, or political persecution in Latin America. In addition, they prepare detainees for their “credible fear” interviews with asylum officers and represent refugees with colorable claims for protection under U.S. asylum laws. This continued presence requires an ongoing commitment from Jones Day lawyers, and we are delighted that retired partners and Firm staff have joined the effort as well. Jones Day has educated thousands of detained women about the asylum process and their legal rights and has helped more than 300 clients as part of the Laredo Project.

The Laredo Project has shifted its work to focus on providing legal representation for those in MPP since 2019.  Email Laura K. Tuell directly if you are a pro bono attorney with a law firm who wishes to volunteer with the Laredo Project.

Project Corazon

  • Project Corazon, run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation in partnership with nearly 40 top law firms, was created to help reunite families separated by the administration’s inhumane “zero-tolerance” policy. Since the launch of Project Corazon, they have mobilized thousands of lawyers to defend the rights of immigrants and their families.

Remote Volunteer:

HIAS is looking for Spanish-speaking volunteers to support our Border Response Team on providing services to asylum seekers in the US-Mexico Border of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico.

The tasks include the translation of documents and interviewing asylum seekers for potential representation. The volunteer candidates will require a short telephone interview and background chack: