Kind words for asylum seekers
Glenwood Springs attorney Claire Noone has pledged to take two trips to the U.S.-Mexico border to provide legal aid and letters of support to families seeking asylum.
Working with the nonprofit organization Al Otro Lado, which translates from Spanish as “to the other side,” Noone said she will deliver letters from Roaring Fork Valley residents to families on the other side of the border in Tijuana, Mexico.
“They will have those notes on hard days and on hard nights to remember that, just because the system is cold, that does not mean that they don’t matter and that they don’t still have a connection to humanity,” Noone said.
For the last year, Noone has traveled to the border on numerous occasions to offer pro bono legal assistance to refugees fleeing from Central America’s violent Northern Triangle that includes El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
According to Noone, the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which returns asylum seekers to Mexico while they wait for their day in court, makes legal representation particularly challenging for attorneys and their clients.
“A big issue is that American attorneys are the experts of the American judicial system and asylum system,” Noone explained. “It is really difficult for American attorneys to travel just to see one client. … As a result, these people are essentially barred from any sort of meaningful help.”
With several Roaring Fork Valley residents wanting to help at the border but not knowing how, Noone thought of the simple letter-writing gesture.
Residents may drop off their letters, cards or drawings in the provided space at 1031 Cooper Ave. in Glenwood Springs ahead of Noone’s trips on July 10 and again on July 31.
“I will be meeting with hundreds of families a day and make sure that those notes get to people who really need to hear some encouragement,” Noone said of the letters, which do not need stamps as she will hand deliver them herself.
“If anyone feels an inclination to reach out and touch someone’s life that feels so separate and isolated from ours, I just wanted people to know that there is a really direct and simple way to connect with someone who is suffering.”
While policies at the border continue to dominate national news, Noone said that her intent was to provide an outlet for Roaring Fork Valley residents — on both sides of the political aisle — that wanted to assist on the humanitarian front.
“I think that people from all spectrums can say this is something that as Americans we have a standard of care that we offer to people,” Noone said. “We are made stronger as a country by the inclusion of the oppressed and vulnerable.”
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Aspen Sister Cities members dedicated a plaque in Sister Cities Plaza to Don Sheeley, who served as president of the organization from 1998 until his death in 2017.