By Emily Drooby
The U.S. southern border with Mexico is in crisis.
While migrants are hoping to find refuge in America through asylum, some immigrants are trying to enter into the country illegally.
There are so many people flooding the gates at the border that some are being released while their cases are still being processed.
Left on their own, these families are getting help from Catholic Charities.
This summer, a team from the Brooklyn Diocese went to Arizona to assist in setting up a new facility called “Casa Alitas” that would make a difference for the migrants.
“They were not offered hygiene products, they were not offered showers, they would take their shoelaces off, kids were barefoot coming out of essentially these buses that would look like something out of Rikers, these were not criminals,” said Richard Slizeski from Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
“They were being treated like criminals,” added Richard, who along with fellow volunteer Belkys Checo, made the trip from New York to work alongside others at the border.
Now back home, they’re sharing what they’ve heard from asylum seekers who endured dangerous journeys.
“In the night they had to do fire bombs to keep the coyotes and snakes away from them, many of them didn’t sleep,” explained Belkys.
The Casa Alitas center is a place of solace after those difficult trips.
Artwork filled the walls and toys filled the floor at the center. There, families are given everything they needed — from a hot meal, to a change of clothes or car seats.
“It was beautiful being able to just say, ‘Come here, I’ll give it to you. What else do you need?’” said Belkys.
As Monsignor Alfred Lopinto of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens explained, the caring Catholics are giving asylum seekers the things they need to feel welcome and at home.
“It’s giving them another experience, and it’s an experience of real welcome, showing them that opportunity is going to be here for them because there is a caring community that is willing to adopt and embrace them,” Msgr. Lopinto said.
Following the teachings of Christ to always welcome the stranger, these volunteers are helping others have faith in the future.