For 114 years Catholic Extension has partnered with dioceses and parishes, religious sisters and priests, and various faith-based nonprofits that offer direct pastoral and charitable care to immigrant families on the southern border. In the last ten years, we have funded more than $20 million in assistance to border regions.
Here are five organizations that are providing compassionate assistance to our brothers and sisters at the border.
This organization in Nogales, Ariz., provides research and advocacy, as well as direct humanitarian assistance to migrants on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Catholic Extension’s funding allowed them to expand the legal aid component of their program.
The center was created to provide a way-station for asylum seekers from Central American countries moving through McAllen, Texas. It has been generously housed in the parish hall of Sacred Heart Church in McAllen. Thanks in part to a Catholic Extension grant of $100,000, a new facility will be built to continue the work of the respite center.
The respite center mainly serves women and children who have traveled together as a family and have been paroled from detention centers while they await their asylum court hearing. This ministry provides welcomed relief and support, especially for those fleeing traumatic and life-threatening circumstances in their home countries.
Sister Zita Telkamp is director of La Posada Providencia in San Benito, Texas. The center provides emergency shelter for men, women and children fleeing from political oppression, violence and poverty and seeking asylum in the United States. It opened in 1989 and now has five full-time employees and 20 volunteers who serve 400 immigrants annually. They offer housing, food, English classes and transportation.
“We teach life skills,” said Sister Telkamp, of the Congregation of Divine Providence. “We don’t preach the Gospel, but we live it by what we do.” The shelter operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has served immigrants from nearly 80 countries. Last fall we delivered $25,000 in support raised through online donations to Sister Zita’s welcoming ministry.
Annunciation House has been serving migrants in the El Paso area since 1978 and has stepped up its efforts in the wake of a recent increase of released migrants from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, who have nowhere else to go for assistance. These funds will help meet basic needs, such as warm meals, clothes, showers, a place to sleep and phone calls to family for the hundreds of migrants being released daily by ICE prior to their immigration court hearing. In court, they will attempt to establish credible fear of returning to their home country, in hopes of eventually receiving asylum.
Catholic Extension donors helped provide a $25,000 grant to help the shelter assist migrants through our Family Reunification Fund last summer.
Sisters of the Assumption
The Catholic Church in and around El Paso has been deeply affected by the surge in migration, with parishes in both the city and surrounding small towns—some themselves poor—all pitching in to help. Just north of El Paso is Chaparral, New Mexico. It is itself a poor colonia, a place lacking in basic infrastructure. Still, its residents, together with the Sisters of the Assumption who have a convent there, have pitched in to make sandwiches for the migrants as they travel to meet family across the country.
More recently, they themselves have been offering temporary housing to the migrants who carry papers from Homeland Security that allow them to travel to meet family in various states. One of the visiting priests observed that “many of those donating their time and resources have little themselves; but they feel called to share the little they have with those with even less.”
Helping Catholic ministries that uphold the dignity of each person is at the core of our mission. Watch our president, Father Jack Wall explains why our support at the border is so critically important: