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Q. What is a refugee?

A. A person who has been forced to leave their country because of fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, political opinions or a natural disaster. 

Q. What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

A. People seeking asylum have applied for refugee status but have not yet been declared a refugee by the state. During this period individuals are forbidden by the state to hold jobs. There is no predetermined time frame for the asylum process and individuals often find informal work to get by. This makes individuals vulnerable to exploitation and other dangerous occupations. 

Q. What motivates people to migrate?

A. Every individual, or family has their own reason for migrating to a new place. Of the people migrating through Mexico it is estimated that about 69% of them have left their homes due to economic factores. Another 11% of them are specifically escaping violence and roughly 3% have left to search for family members or to reunite with family.


Q. How do migrants travel to Celaya, Guanajuato?

A. Most often migrants traveling through Celaya often ride on top of freight trains that travel from Central America to the United States. This train has many names including "The Beast and the "Death Train" because it often takes the lives or injures those migrants who chose to ro ride on it. Travel by train allows migrants to skip migration checkpoints which is often desirable. 

Of migrants traveling through Mexico about 34% travel by foot, 26% travel by train, 19% travel by bus, 16% travel using a variety of methods and 5% travel in another way. 

Q. What’s a typical day like at ABBA?

A. Everyday at ABBA is different. The staff at ABBA do not know ahead of time how many migrantes will be needing their services on a day to day basic so they have to be prepared for anything. It is uncommon for the shelter to have less than 20 migrants on a given night and in some instances they provide services to hundreds of migrants at a time. 

Q. Who maintains ABBA?

A. ABBA is run solely on donations and volunteers. They rely on the goodwill of individuals to keep the shelter open and to provide services to migrants. 

Q. What is the client intake process like and how does it work?

A. All migrants are required to go through an intake process when they come to ABBA. This is to both for safety and to assess the needs of each individual. During this process, clients are told the rules of the facility and what services are available to them. Then they are taken individually to meet with a staff member. Staff follows the national migration network's system to account for each person. They also work with the migrant to better understand their needs and what they have been through. This can simply be that they need a safe place to sleep or can be greater such as a need for medical or physiological care. 

Q. What are ABBA’s most pressing needs?

A. ABBA is in constant need of food, clothing, and bath products for individuals. Below you will find list of key items that ABBA house needs:

  • Food (beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, etc.) 

  • Men's pants sizes 28-34

  • T-shirts

  • Long sleeve shirts

  • baseball hats

  • Warm hats

  • Gloves

  • Socks

  • Men's and women's underwear

  • Women's jeans and leggings

  • Jackets

  • Shoes that are good for walking

  • Backpacks

  • Shampoo

  • Toothpaste

  • Soap

In terms of clothing, we specifically need clothes that are functional and  in good condition. We want to be able to provide migrants with clothes that will serve them throughout their journey. 

Q. I don’t speak Spanish, but I want to get involved. What can I do?

A. Both monetary and in-kind donations are greatly appreciated. Please contact us to find out what our most pressing needs are at the moment.

Q. What do I do if I know someone who is currently migrating or considering migrating through Mexico? 

A. Migration through Mexico can be dangerous. The Red Cross provides some basic tools on how to stay safe and be prepared throughout the journey. The link to their site can be found             in English and             in Spanish. 

Q. Where can I learn more about migration in Mexico and Central America?

A. Below you can find links to more information about migration migration:

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