Ep 72: Seeking Asylum is a Human Right with Bay Area Border Relief’s Belinda Arriaga

Ep 72: Seeking Asylum is a Human Right with Bay Area Border Relief’s Belinda Arriaga

I’m honored to share this episode, the first I’m releasing after our lives have changed in immense ways due to this global pandemic. At a time when we realize how interconnected we all are, I’m honored to bring you a conversation with Dr. Belinda Arriaga, a leader at Bay Area Border Relief, about the incredibly important work she does championing families seeking asylum at the United States Mexican border.

In addition to her advocacy through Bay Area Border Relief, Belinda is Founder and Executive Director of Ayudando Latinos a Soñar, a non-profit which stands for Believing in Latinos to Dream, dedicated to working with Latino rural youth, families, farmworkers, asylum seekers, and seniors living on coastside in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bringing her training as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco in the School of Education, as Co-Founder of the Half Moon Bay Latino Advisory, and founder of the Latino Trauma Institute. She’s beloved by those who know her as being a fierce advocate with a heart of gold.

In this episode, Belinda (originally born in Texas) shares about her own childhood experiences journeying back to America from Panama, how despite her mother’s instruction to keep her head down she learned to speak out and fight injustice, about our country’s history of honoring asylum as a human right, and now the ways in which our current immigration policies increase trauma for families fleeing violence instead of providing our protection, shelter and support. Belinda tells her firsthand accounts of the devastating conditions that families experience living in encampments on the Mexican side of the border now and also about miracles and community rising up to literally open doors. 

With faith in our collective generosity and hope for more miracles, Belinda and I spoke this week about what the families at the border need now. We want to invite you to say “yes” to the challenge of writing love letters in Spanish especially to the children there and also to send along children’s masks that can provide some protection from the spread of the coronavirus if it reaches their encampment. As we are sheltering in place, Belinda, the Bay Area Border Relief team and I invite you to follow the information in the show notes to take action within your homes, to send care packages that let these families know that they are not forgotten.

Much appreciation,

P.S. Know someone who would love this conversation? Pay this forward to a friend who may be interested.


This Episode is Dedicated by:
Vickie Giambra of ABA’s Children’s Immigration Law Academy

Vickie Giambra is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ABA’s Children’s Immigration Law Academy. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and twice-exceptional daughter. She has been practicing immigration law since 2009. She began her nonprofit immigration law career when she joined Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in January 2017. 

As a Managing Attorney, she led the General Immigration Program at Catholic Charities, which encompassed family immigration matters and provided a full range of immigration services for refugees and asylees. With a B.A., cum laude, in Latin American Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, Vickie began her career working in HR and recruitment for a large international law firm in New York and London. 

This sparked an interest in employment and immigration law, which led Vickie to enroll in the University of Houston Law Center, graduating in May 2009. She’s also a member of the Texas Bar and is also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach.

ABA Children’s Immigration Law Academy

Connect with Vickie:



 Vickie’s Suggested Resources: 


In This Episode We Talk About:

  • How Belinda’s painful experience leaving her native Panama for the United States connects to the work she does now supporting immigrants. 
  • An explanation of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), a policy that stopped asylum seekers from entering the United States since November
  • A discussion of asylum-seeking as a basic human right
  • Belinda’s firsthand experience and observations about children’s suffering under our current immigration policy and the ways we can support them
  • How Belinda finds the personal strength and faith to persevere in the challenging work she does
  • Belinda’s belief in miracles and a powerful story about community rising up to support a family seeking asylum 


This Week’s Challenge:

For this episode’s challenge, Belinda encourages us to write love letters to the children who are seeking asylum (especially after the government’s latest announcement to shut down all asylum efforts right now) and to support an effort to bring 1,000 children’s masks to the families at the border. With this simple act of love and care, we can empower them to have strength especially when they are scared or lonely.

You can send your letters and masks to 4 Windsor Drive, Hillsborough, CA 94010
If you’re interested in contributing to the larger project, you can go to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/bayareaborderrelief to make a fully tax-deductible donation. 

And/or order masks for your family & friends with proceeds supporting the campaign visit 👉 bit.ly/BABRmasks


Learn More About Belinda Arriaga

Belinda Hernandez Arriaga is a Faculty Coordinator for the Masters In Counseling MFT program at USF’s South Bay location. She co-founded and is part of the Latino Advisory Council in Half Moon Bay. Belinda has done extensive work on the coast working with farmworker families and their children, in her community practice her focus is on immigration trauma, u-visas, asylum and has worked with refugee children of San Mateo County.

She is Founder and Chief Executive Director of Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (www.alashmb.org), a Latino cultural arts, education, and social justice program dedicated to working with rural youth and families living on the coast side. Her current research is focused on understanding the emotional, psychological, and traumatic experiences that impact undocumented and mixed-status Latino youth.

Belinda’s work also focuses on understanding the cultural arts as a healing space for this community of children. Belinda is committed to social justice advocacy and multicultural practices in counseling that gives voice to underground communities and expand indigenous cultural practices in the field of counseling. She and her husband have three young daughters and live in the coastal community of Half Moon Bay.

To know more about Belinda and the work that she does, you can read her full bio 👉here


Follow Belinda on Social Media


Resources Mentioned:


Additional Resources featuring Belinda:



There are 3000 people hoping for a chance at a better life for themselves and their families. They are also at risk of being exposed to the virus. A joint project between ALAS and Bay Area Border Relief has been launched which is a mask making effort and it’ll include the families at South Texas border, all across the Rio Grande from Brownsville.

Join me in my efforts to support them. If you’re interested in contributing to this project, you can go to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/bayareaborderrelief to make a fully tax-deductible donation. 

And/or order masks for your family & friends. Proceeds support the campaign 👉 bit.ly/BABRmasks

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Vickie Giambra
Casey O’Roarty of Joyful Courage
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