EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – One of the largest immigration advocacy organizations on the border is changing its name but not its mission.
Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services will become Estrella del Paso beginning Jan. 1.
“We wanted to have a name that people would hear, would remember and, especially for El Pasoans, a name that would stay with them,” said Melissa M. Lopez, executive director of DMRS.
The organization provides legal and immigration services to 30,000 people each year in El Paso, Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, Ward and Winkler counties. It also serves detained migrants at the El Paso Processing Center and the Otero County (New Mexico) Processing Center.
It opened its doors in 1986 and is a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. Since then, it has served more than half a million clients.
The name Estrella del Paso has multiple meanings, all in line with the organization’s mission. It is allusive to El Paso’s iconic Star on the Mountain and represents a beacon of hope to the thousands of people fleeing persecution, crime and economic oppression and finally make it to the U.S. border. It also refers to the Pass of the North, the name given to the region by Spanish more than three centuries ago.
“We are all familiar with the star. We love the star. It is so emblematic of who we are as El Pasoans. Having a name like that is something that will stay with people and help them remember we are here to help as many (migrants and immigrants) as we can,” Lopez said.
The organization not only assists newly arrived migrants with credible fear (asylum) interviews and represents them in immigration court and with appeals to deportation, it also helps legal immigrants prepare for citizenship applications and exams and puts on “Know your rights” presentation to the community at large in the Latino majority city.
The name change announcement came Friday evening during a fundraiser event at the Starlight Event Center near El Paso International Airport.
Jesus de la Torre, a native of Spain who moved to El Paso earlier this year, attended the fundraiser to show support for like-minded individuals who value the contributions of immigrants. He said the people of El Paso have welcomed him and he is eager to do the same with newcomers.
“We celebrate the diversity and inclusion of this community. They (DMRS) are doing the same thing with migrants and asylum seekers, not only providing them with assistance but also ensuring that their dignity is respected,” De la Torre said.