The issues plaguing the Southwestern border are moving north, with some 300 migrants now in the Albuquerque area because border shelters are too full of people seeking refuge in the United States.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, representatives of faith communities, nonprofits and other government officials met Wednesday to discuss how Albuquerque will gather resources to help families here legally in search of asylum.
“Our city has always been a crossroads,” Keller said. “These asylum-seekers are not staying here permanently. They’re usually here for a few days and they’re going on to the next stop.”
Keller and the others wanted to share how citizens can help to provide food, health care and other services, which are being assembled for the refugees. It’s important to put systems in place because more groups will be coming to Albuquerque, likely on one or two days’ notice.
“We want to be ready,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we are gathered here today.”
The mayor said Albuquerque has stepped up in the past when migrants arrived in the community; in fact, so many donations were made that the city became overwhelmed. Keller said he wants to avoid that in the future, asking those who want to help to donate to the local Catholic Charities or to Annunciation House in El Paso. More than cash is needed, though.
Volunteers are required, and the mayor asked people to reach out to Catholic Charities and the Albuquerque Interfaith organization for specific tasks. There is much to be done, whether driving people around, providing medical assistance or organizing supplies.
Donations can be taken to St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Albuquerque; children’s clothing, shoelaces and hygiene products are among what’s needed, the mayor said. For more information, 505-768-3336 is the hotline number to call with specific questions. He warned that it is better to bring only donations that are requested. Again, the city of Albuquerque and volunteer groups are setting up a structure to be prepared for the months ahead. The smaller groups that already have been processed in Albuquerque and moved on in recent months are only the start.
What was clear from the news conference Wednesday: The flow of migrants is not stopping anytime soon. This is not because there is an “emergency” at the border, as President Donald Trump likes to trumpet. There is a humanitarian crisis, with situations in home countries so violent that mothers and fathers are willing to walk hundreds of miles through dangerous terrain in hopes of a better life.
The migrants coming through at this time are mostly from Honduras and Guatemala, with some from El Salvador. Spanish-speaking volunteers are helpful, but many refugees speak indigenous languages or even Portuguese when Brazilians arrive.
With the current administration making it more difficult for asylum-seekers — who are using a legal process — to cross safely, shelters in cities such as El Paso are overwhelmed. That’s why locations in Albuquerque are being used, as well as other places in the country. Now, the community will gather to help, including Santa Fe and points north.
These migrants are our brothers and sisters. They need support and shelter. And they deserve political muscle, too, in the form of Congress focusing on aid that helps their home countries become safer, ways to process asylum-seekers that do not exacerbate suffering and, finally, creating an immigration policy that works.
Where to help
u Catholic Charities, www.ccasfnm.org
u Annunciation House, annunciationhouse.org
u St. Therese church, www.littleflowerabq.org