In the spirit of the season, help a refugee

December 6, 2018

For all who have wondered how best to help the families and children caught on the border of the United States and Mexico, we have some answers. Charities are working hard to care for these refugees and immigrants, in the spirit of the season.

All along the border, shelters are being flooded with people needing a place to stay. Volunteers at these charities told the Associated Press that they expect a new surge of migrants seeking refuge in the United States. (See story on Page A-6.) The more help, the better, when it comes to such things as cash, diapers, cots, clothes and housing. The charities who do this work are scrambling to keep up with the need.

The Trump administration, which had been detaining asylum-seekers from Central America, is now releasing them more quickly. These tired, hungry and frightened people need places to stay and help getting settled while they await word on their applications for asylum.

According to AP reporter Russell Contreras in his article on the need for assistance on the border, the demand fluctuates. Sometimes shelter workers pick up migrants at bus or train stations. Occasionally, a bus will stop outside a shelter and refugees with no place to stay will pile out. Somehow, all the people are accommodated.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which used to assist refugees with travel plans, now is just handing them off. The newly elected governor of California, Gavin Newsom, called it a crisis “in real time.”

Refugees are being released all along the border. In Phoenix, church leaders told the AP that ICE had released some 5,000 people in two months to local churches. Most migrants leave within a day or two, but in the meantime, they need food, clothing and diapers.

In New Mexico, volunteer coordinator Sylvia Corona — with the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral in Las Cruces — believes the demand is going to grow. For that reason, her group has set up Amazon.com registries so people can shop, select and send needed goods.

“I think we’re going to see hundreds of families needing places to stay,” Corona told the AP. “We’re opening up two more shelters soon. We’re letting them stay in our own homes if we have to, but we’ll find something.”

Helping refugees is surely what the spirit of this giving season demands.

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