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A look inside one of El Paso's immigrant shelters

By Andrew J. Polk, Multimedia Journalist, andrew.polk@kvia.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:20:43 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 22 2014 08:17:59 PM CDT

ABC-7's Andrew J. Polk reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

     Thousands of immigrants continue illegally crossing the South Texas border. Once caught, immigrant families brought to El Paso and released from official custody are being helped by volunteers and shelters. ABC 7 was given a tour of the biggest one in our region, ready for the next group coming through.

     "They're not going to have any place to go, and we don't want that to happen," said Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia. "We don't want them on the street, we want them to have a place where they can be received and cared for as they take their next step."

     Garcia is coordinating efforts for all the shelters in the region including one in central El Paso. For the past two weeks, it's been offering food, shelter, travel assistance and legal advice to the immigrants brought here by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

      It's one of the biggest shelters that's been set up in El Paso so far, and in the main room alone, about 40 or so beds are set up to accommodate however many immigrants will be staying there for the night.     

     Of the about 2,000 immigrants that have come through local shelters so far, the one toured by ABC 7 has handled 743 of them, from 316 different families. They're are first brought to a station that takes down basic information, then to volunteers who double check the documents given to the immigrants by officials that will allow them to travel across the country - even though they're believed to be here illegally.

     Then comes a new change of clothes, with socks, shirts, shoes of all sizes and types that have been donated and are sorted and at the ready. Toiletries, toys, and diapers are also available on the way to the showers.

     The point of everything at the shelter is to help immigrants reach family members throughout the country and continue their journey.

     "This is people that are leaving and need to go to the bus station or airport," said shelter volunteer Adrian Burciaga at a board used to list upcoming buses and flights. "And we assign drivers to these people so that we can take them and they all have times and dates that they're leaving."

     All of the immigrants who have come to that shelter have since left El Paso. But officials have said that two more plane-loads of immigrants have come to El Paso in the past two days, so more are likely to be at the shelter doors soon.

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