By now, you have probably heard or read about the Department of Homeland Security dropping off immigrants at bus stations in both Phoenix and Tucson. The immigrants are being transferred to Arizona from Texas after federal officials stated that Texas was unable to process the high numbers of undocumented immigrants coming through the state. In efforts to relieve agents in Texas, the Department of Homeland Security started transferring some of these individuals to other states, including Arizona.
However, it seems that the way federal officials are going about transferring these immigrants is cause for concern. As reported, many are being brought here, dropped off at bus stations and told to report to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) offices when required. Unfortunately, these immigrants are not always near family and are not being given sufficient food and water during the transportation. As those living in Arizona know, one cannot make it very far without water in the desert heat.
So, what are we to do? Recently, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson met with local and federal officials along with community leaders to work out a plan that would bring aid for immigrant women and children who are being taken to the bus station downtown.
Immigrants from Central America and Mexico are being taken into custody in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and are being flown to Arizona bus stations. “About 80 women and their children a day continue being dropped off (at the Greyhound bus station), and Casa Mariposa provides shelter for some families and temporary housing, but they are overwhelmed now,” said Kicanas of the pro-immigration advocates. Kicanas went on to comment that transitional housing is needed for some and hospitality, clothing and food should be offered to these individuals. Tucson has become known as a welcoming community when it comes to “refugees and immigrants who are in need.”
In the current situation, Kicanas said that the majority of the immigrants being brought to Tucson and Phoenix are using money from relatives to buy bus tickets and then leaving town. However, there are those that don't have the funds to buy bus tickets, or anything else for that matter, and need help from the community.
City Councilwoman Regina Romero, has also stepped in to offer aid. She announced that she is working with “the city's staff to provide a list of city-funded emergency shelters that can take in women and children.” This list will be available to both immigration officials and Greyhound bus officials.
Another concern is the Nogales facility that is being used to house unaccompanied minor immigrant children who have been apprehended at the border. Kicanas is concerned as to whether the needs of the children are being met. These needs include food, legal representation, emotional issues and pastoral care.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva was in attendance at the meeting with Kicanas and will be working with “officials to determine what humanitarian aid the Tucson community can provide for the children” who are staying at the Nogales shelter.