News / USA

Texas Border Towns Help Immigrants

FILE - Cloths for detainees are sorted at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, June 18, 2014.
FILE - Cloths for detainees are sorted at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, June 18, 2014.
Greg Flakus

Thousands of immigrants from Central America have crossed over the Mexican border into the U.S. state of Texas in recent months, and federal agents have stepped up efforts to process those with no criminal record and allow them to stay with family members in the United States while awaiting their court date. Local communities are providing these weary and hungry immigrants with humanitarian assistance.

This week the Hidalgo County, Texas Sheriff's Department found the decomposing body of a boy in the scrub brush near the Rio Grande River, which delineates the border with Mexico. 

Using information scribbled on the boy's belt, deputies contacted a man in Guatemala who identified himself as the boy's father. Sheriff Eddie Guerra said he provided information that helped identify the body.

"A part statement was obtained from the presumed father of the deceased male, who provided the specific clothing description," said Guerra.

The dead boy was 11-years-old, according to his birth certificate, but family members say he was 15.

In recent months there has been a surge of immigrants from Central America arriving in south Texas. Federal authorities have detained minors who are not accompanied by a parent, but have processed and released hundreds of people with children to travel to other U.S. locations where they have family members.

Many of them end up at the bus station in the border town of McAllen, Texas, which is struggling to deal with the large influx.

McAllen spokesman Teclo Garcia said local government, nuns, and local volunteers are providing services in the parking lot of the Sacred Heart Catholic church.

"The county has put up some tents and the sisters are all working to make sure people get fed and they are looked after, and the county health folks are doing some screenings and things of that nature, and then they move along and catch their bus and go wherever," said Garcia.

Garcia said the city has spent about $58,000 on this emergency operation, but he said it could end up spending $500,000 dollars by the end of this year if the situation does not improve.

"While we are handling it now, our preference is that the feds (federal government) take responsibility. We did not cause this situation, we just want to treat people humanely. But we wonder and we are concerned about how long this is sustainable. We do not want to spend $500,000 of taxpayer money on this operation annually," said Garcia.

The operation at the church in McAllen and another one that opened a few days ago farther down the river in Brownsville are managed by Catholic Charities, whose representative, Brenda Riojas, said it started with local citizens.

"They noticed that there were people at the bus station arriving who needed help, so on their own, from the trunks of their cars, they were providing assistance and then when the numbers grew too large, the bus station said this is not the space for this," said Riojas.

Riojas said the church shelter provides immigrants with food, a chance to bathe, a bed to sleep on for a few days and other assistance before they join family members, sometimes in far-off places, like New York or California. She said the volunteers also give them something for the road.

"We provide them also with travel packets. We want to make sure that they have diapers for their children, baby food, water," said Riojas.

Some people have decried such assistance as aiding lawbreakers and encouraging more people to cross the border illegally, but Riojas said the church and other charities in south Texas are only providing humanitarian aid for people already here who are in need of help.

Some members of Congress are also critical of the process of releasing undocumented immigrants and have called for returning them quickly to their country of origin in order to discourage others from coming.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs