El Paso groups house Central American immigrants, but the stay may be short
POSTED: Monday, June 9, 2014 - 11:22pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 10:33am
EL PASO (KTSM) — At a news conference Monday, advocates who took the lead in coordinating aid for the hundreds of undocumented immigrants flown to El Paso told reporters most of the border crossers are trying to reach relatives in other cities.
"At this point, 100% of the families we've served have all wanted to move on to other places in the United States as soon as possible," said Taylor Levy of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center.
Though many of families were expected to begin leaving El Paso on Tuesday, the advocates assured no matter where the immigrants end up, all of the adults would have court dates.
"Everybody is under deportation proceedings," said Ruben Garcia of Annunciation House.
Garcia said 310 undocumented immigrants arrived in El Paso over the weekend, most of them fleeing violence from Central American countries like Honduras and El Salvador. The families were caught at the South Texas border but sent to El Paso by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to overcrowding at detention centers in the Rio Grande Valley.
"They just ran out of space," Garcia said.
A separate group of unaccompanied children, ages 5-17, remain in ICE custody.
Garcia said cots and beds had been set up at Annunciation House for the families brought to El Paso, as well as at Casa Vides and Magoffin Hall, all near Downtown.
El Paso's Salvation Army Shelter told NewsChannel 9 it was also preparing to house 10 to 12 families.
"As far as we're concerned, this is just business as usual," said Major Mike Morton. "If any family walked in and said they had no place to stay, no money, I would take them in."
Monday evening, more than 100 of El Paso's faithful came together at St. Pius Catholic Church to help Annunciation House organize meals, clothing assistance, and the booking of bus and airline tickets for the immigrants.
"They're our brothers and sisters," one volunteer told NewsChannel 9. "God didn't create borders."
Eligible undocumented immigrants were given paperwork by ICE allowing them to travel.
All of the aid for the immigrants, including travel tickets, is being paid for by the various advocacy groups and through church donations. St. Pius reported collecting $7,000 in special collections at its Sunday masses.
El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D) said it should be the government picking up the tab in the Sun City.
"I really don't want the citizens to have to pay for that," O'Rourke said. "That's not right. We're going to make sure that the federal government covers the costs for its responsibility in El Paso."