Supporting the Humanitarian Needs of Migrants

A new wave of legally paroled migrants are being released from detention each day to local church-run shelters in El Paso. In the past two weeks, numerous temporary shelter sites have opened to accommodate the increase in released migrants. These shelters have collectively served 2,400 per week for the last several weeks with no signs of slowing down. Those staying in these shelters are mostly parents with young children seeking to reunite with their family members throughout the U.S. while awaiting their court dates.

Catholic Extension is releasing an initial $25,000 in emergency funding to the Annunciation House in the Diocese of El Paso to provide relief with the humanitarian crisis taking place at the border. We are also planning to make subsequent grants to other migrant ministries in the months ahead. 

Migrants seek shelter at Centro San Juan Diego in the Diocese of El Paso.

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 visited the diocese last week and saw the need firsthand and the suffering being felt by people seeking legal asylum in the U.S.

Area shelters such as Centro San Juan Diego have collectively served 2,400 per week for the last several weeks with no signs of slowing down.

“Most of the people we met were parents, clinging to their children,” said Fr. Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension.  “They told us stories of the extortion, kidnappings, and threats of violence to them and their children that they endured in their home countries.”

“We could see the terror and pain in the eyes of the parents, many of whom were escaping criminals who promised to kidnap, rape, or disembowel their children,” added Joe Boland, Catholic Extension’s vice president of mission.

“As a Church, we must do our part to help these parents protect the innocent little ones,” Boland said.  “We thank God for the ready hospitality provided by these church-run shelters, which sprang into action to help restore hope and human dignity among these migrants who have been through so much.”

Veronica Rayas receives text messages each day informing her of migrants arriving to her shelter.

“Our whole purpose here is to provide hospitality knowing that, as Jesus comes to our door as an immigrant in need of food and shelter, we provide that,” said Dr. Veronica Rayas, director of the office of religious formation for the Diocese of El Paso, who has been running the temporary shelter out of Centro San Juan Diego, which normally functions as an after school center for children.  

Veronica Rayas greets migrants arriving at Centro San Juan Diego in the Diocese of El Paso.

The funds from Catholic Extension are being granted as part of the Family Reunification Fund, created earlier this year in response to the human tragedy unfolding on the nation’s southern border, where recent family separations and policy debates have exposed the profound misery of those fleeing their countries and coming to the United States.

Subscribe for weekly stories sent to your inbox