SAN ANTONIO – Immigrants by the hundreds seeking asylum in the United States are being bused into San Antonio by U.S. immigration authorities.
But their sheEr numbers -- perhaps as many as 1,500 men, women and children -- are severely straining the system set up to help them on their journey.
Catholic Charities has been helping large groups of immigrants that began arriving by bus Thursday night.
The organization's director, Antonio Fernandez, said as many as 300 immigrants at a time have been coming and all come with virtually nothing.
"They come with almost nothing, and it's really so sad," Fernandez said. "We're trying to provide them with all the clothes they need for a two- or three-days ride."
But while the immigrants wait for a bus to their next destination, arrangements have to be made for them, including many families.
Fernandez said the federal holding facility in Dilley, south of San Antonio, is reportedly full, and a center in Karnes County is being converted to hold adult immigrants.
Fernandez said the immigrants will eventually head to Chicago, Baltimore, Houston, Orlando, New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and other destinations.
Until that happens, Catholic Charities is working to provide food, hygiene and housing, including hotel space, in San Antonio.
Fernandez said the organization desperately needs donations of food and other items, but one thing stands out.
"An important thing that we don't have right now are toys. These kids are crossing the border with nothing, and for a kid, a toy is everything," Fernandez said. "Anyone with toys or a teddy bear, please send them to Catholic Charities, because that's one thing we need the most."
Fernandez said toys, food, clothes, hygiene products and cash donations can be brought to the Catholic Charities office at 202 W. French or at the Guadalupe Community Center at 1801 W. Cesar Chavez.
Fernandez said he expects more immigrants -- possibly as many as 1,500 -- to arrive in San Antonio over the weekend.