Catholic Charities working to learn fate of smuggling victims after hospital release

22 remain hospitalized

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SAN ANTONIO – While the future of the 39 people smuggled and found in an 18-wheeler in a San Antonio Walmart will be in the hands of federal authorities, one local attorney said some of them may be allowed to remain in the U.S. with visas.

Evelyn Huron, director of Legal Services with Catholic Charities, said it’s a complicated process and immigration officials will likely evaluate each case to determine who is sent to a detention center, deported back to their home country or who gets to stay in the country legally.

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“The government is going to need them to prosecute. They are witnesses of (a) crime and they will need them to prosecute (suspects) and anyone else that continues to do this,” she said.

Huron believes some, likely those who are very ill, may be allowed to stay with family. Four out of seven victims taken to University Hospital remain there the hospital said on Tuesday.

A total of 22 others remain hospitalized.

Catholic Charities CEO Antonio Fernandez has been meeting with law enforcement agencies and the hospitals to offer assistance. “If they are allowed to stay here, we will do what we can to help them, with legal help and counseling and housing,” he said.

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But this has been an ongoing topic of concern, he added. “Some people think this is a one-time thing. This is happening every day,” he said. “We just don’t know it. We just don’t see it.”

The agency is getting ready to launch a campaign to get volunteers to provide more education to the community about the services available to victims of trafficking and smuggling.

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