Catholic Charities of SA needs volunteers to assist asylum seekers

Diocese of El Paso sees more are being released from detention

SAN ANTONIO – The Diocese of El Paso, in need of more volunteers over the coming weeks, has asked for help from Catholic Charities of San Antonio as more asylum seekers are released from detention facilities.

Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of San Antonio, said he believes the federal government will have to make room for families who are still coming from Central America but are not part of the migrant caravan.

Fernandez said he was told 2,800 asylum seekers arrived at the shelters in El Paso over the past two weeks. He said 90 percent of them were from Guatemala, and the rest were from Honduras, but none were from El Salvador.

They were given food, clothing and information, as well as access to satellite phones to call home.

Fernandez said volunteers also tried to help them get their bearings before they boarded on a bus or plane for their destination.

The adults, wearing ankle monitors, and their children must appear for their asylum hearings at some point in the future.

Many of the Guatemalans speak in different dialects. 

“You can’t understand what they’re saying, but the feeling is the same, the emotions are the same and you can see that," Fernandez said.

“It was a humbling experience,” Fernandez said, and a blessing as well.

Fernandez said he hopes the migrants, whose fates are uncertain, remember the smiles of the volunteers, whose core mission was to “give them love and dignity as a human being.” 

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.