BRIDGEPORT—Catholic Charities of Fairfield County caseworker Maria Palacios has joined a humanitarian team working on the Texas border to respond to the needs of families being served by the Humanitarian Respite Center. During her 9-day journey Palacios is working alongside other caseworkers at the request of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
“The arrivals and needs of these families are not new and the dedicated staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley have built an efficient and effective respite center. However, the current volume of needs and support exceeds their current capacity,” said Al Barber, CEO of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.”
Please see her July 25th journal entry below:
A Journal Entry From Maria Palacios in McAllen, Texas:
July 25, 2018—To say that the situation at the border is overwhelming is an understatement. Everything is extremely fast moving because the center is receiving 100 to 200 families each day. Families that have recently been released from ICE custody are left at a bus station where Sister Norma Pimentel and her team pick them up and bring them to the center. There they are housed, assisted with their immigration paperwork, fed, clothed, and helped with arrangements to reconnect with their families members who may be located all over the country. I am the only volunteer who is fluent in Spanish in my group, as well as the only one with a legal immigration case management background. Though there are about 10 different jobs that need to be done by a limited amount of people, my main focus will be helping the families organize their documentation for their upcoming court dates where they will present their refugee cases. As a result of the court order to reunite children with their parents, most of the children here are between the ages of 2 and 10. It is easy to understand why they remain glued to their parents. I attempted to speak to a few of the children gathered in the cafeteria and although I speak fluent Spanish and have the same skin complexion as them, they were very hesitant to respond to me. Another group of volunteers informed us it takes a few days for them to get comfortable with people who are there to help them since they had just been released. A great deal of time is spent driving to the airport and bus station as the families receives confirmation of getting their fares paid for by family members. All meals are donated by the local community. Our group is comprised of three members from Catholic Charities Tennessee, one from Michigan and me. We are not helping at the warehouse sorting donations since the center is understaffed and all attention is needed there. The center is at full capacity.
They are in great need of monetary donations because it’s easier to manage. They are receiving clothes donations but the guests are mostly very skinny and they are swimming in the clothes that are donated. All they want is a t-shirt and a pair of jeans to change out of the ICE detention uniforms as soon as possible.
Donations can be made on the established Go Fund Me Pages listed below.