Editor’s note: Quotes have been translated by the reporter from Spanish to English.
The Annunciation House is asking for volunteers to transport refugees to the airport or bus station in hopes of being reunited with their loved ones across the country.
According to the Annunciation House website, as of the end of February 2019, about 400 to 700 refugees per day were being sent to Annunciation House.
The Paseo Del Norte Border Patrol station has fencing constructed under the overpass to hold migrant families in temporary camps due to processing centers reaching capacity.
“I believe there (are) at least 1,500 refugees in El Paso, but we’ve processed over 800 within the last week with an influx of refugees at the border,” said volunteer Jessica Grijalva.
Grijalva, who is an organizer for the Women’s March of El Paso, believes it is crucial that our community contributes to the matter at hand by helping migrants get sponsors. Sponsors are normally someone refugees may have known from the past, a friend or family member who provides them with short-term housing, transportation services, food and basic toiletries, up until their court date.
During their trial, migrants await to see if they are granted a possible year residency or if they are sent back to their home country.
“Most of the migrants have their sponsors and we help get them to their bus stop or flights in order for them to report to their already set court date that is usually, within a month. Their sponsors are expecting them to arrive within three to four days,” Grijalva said.
The refugees are currently scattered across El Paso in shelters hoping to exonerate the views society has on families such as Carlos Osorio, a 16-year-old boy with wishes to get to San Francisco with his family.
Carlos, along with his two younger brothers and parents, have traveled from Honduras to El Paso with dreams of having a chance at a life here in the states.
“I really want a better life for my children. I don’t care about myself or what happens to me—I just want my kids to have a chance at a better life,” said Ronal Osorio, Carlos’ father, speaking in Spanish.
Before coming to El Paso, Osorio and his family lived in Santa Fe Ocotepeque, Honduras, where many families are surrounded by drugs and gangs.
“My oldest son, Carlos, is taller, leaner, and growing, so the gangs over in Honduras wanted him to join and if he denied, they would kill him,” Osorio said.
In Honduras, Osorio had what one would believe is an easy-going life, but wanted to escape the violence outside of their materialistic life.
“I abandoned my house, my car, my motorcycle, my job. The only thing I regret is crossing illegally,” Osorio said. “I did it for my kids. I did it so that my kids can have a secure life – not to harm anyone or cause trouble, but for my boys.”
Carlos and his siblings have hopes to live the American dream and now they might have the chance to fulfill that dream.
“To come to this country was a surprise. It was a surprise to me and my brothers because to stay in my country is horrible. The poverty is extreme and the cops from my country are extorting people once they get pulled over,” Carlos said.
Families like the Osorios hope people within the community will help get them transported to either the airport or the bus station and send them in the right direction.
“It doesn’t matter what situation we’re in as long as my family is united, I’ll get through. If I was by myself, I couldn’t imagine how I would get through any racial turmoil,” Osorio said. “We just want a better life because where we’re from it’s not easy. All we can do is have faith in God and hope that people will unite and see us as their brothers and sisters, as equals and want to help.”
Refugees need help not only with transportation, but with food donations, clothes and hygiene items. There is a minor background check for the volunteers to keep refugees and volunteers safe.
“I think it’s imperative for us to come together as a community. We’re all humans. We never earned our citizenship. We got lucky and were born here. They weren’t born here and we should come together as humans to help one another,” Grijalva said.
To learn more about volunteering and transporting refugees send an email to [email protected] or visit The Annunciation House website at annunciationhouse.org