WACO, TX — The Waco Immigrant's Alliance had to scale down operations during the pandemic, but they say the need to help make Waco a safe place for every immigrant is bigger than ever.
"Our community mainly Spanish speaking and Hispanic really recoiled during COVID because they felt so afraid and there was just another layer of unknown. when things like this happen and so we're really just trying to say hey you know we were gone for a little bit but we're back and if you need us we're here and advocating for whatever changes might be happening advocating for making sure they know they are welcome," said Jessica Jimenez with the Waco Immigrants Alliance (WIA).
Because of COVID-19 protocol the WIA had to work remotely and advocacy efforts became more difficult, but this week the WIA held it's first in person meeting.
"The major difference is that our physical presence can be heard, and so we're gonna start jumping back into attending coalitions and meetings that speak specifically to the issues that we feel are important around immigration," says Jimenez.
That includes school board meetings, city council meetings and more where the Hispanic community needs a voice.
"I would hope that they see glimpses and glimmers of people here that are welcoming of everyone no matter what your status is or what you look like or anything like that. But I can understand if people don't feel that," says Jimenez.
Jimenez says many Hispanic families lost their jobs during the pandemic and those that are undocumented felt a fear to find aid for fear of being deported.
"Not to make it sound trivial but documentation and paperwork control every aspect of your life even if you've been here for years and years. They're afraid that all of the things that they've built all of the things they've become accustomed to and their children have become accustomed to can be ripped away," says Jimenez.
Events like a new presidency and issues at the border also left many families with more uncertainties.
"I know there are people that can argue the pros and cons, at the end of the day, our main priority and concern is that people feel safe and welcome and unfortunately the wall is the antithesis of that," said Jimenez.
Jimenez says during the pandemic WIA lost grant funding and has returned to a grassroots effort and are now putting the call out for volunteers of all skill traits to help join the cause.
"Literally anything.There's so many aspects in community organizing where people can get involved and so we're just kind of hoping to come together as a community to keep this organization going," says Jimenez.