ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – Some of the immigrant families caught crossing the border together illegally will be coming to New Mexico and housed by the Catholic Church, advocates said Friday.
Thomas Baca, executive director of Catholic Charities in Las Cruces, told The Associated Press that close to 300 people will be housed at a parish in Anthony after they are released by federal immigration authorities.
“Right now we are working on raising money, applying for grants and getting the parish ready so people can take showers,” Baca said.
The Diocese of Las Cruces expects to house around 280 people, he said.
Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House in El Paso, said volunteers have help hundreds of immigrants released to the Diocese of El Paso this month find other relatives in the U.S. Around half are from Honduras and most are mothers with children, he said.
“I can’t understand how anyone who is human not wanting to help these people,” Garcia said.
The migrants are being flown in to El Paso from south Texas by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said.
Once they find relatives in other parts of the U.S., those relatives help them with bus tickets and finding them homes, Garcia said.
Tens of thousands of families, mostly mothers traveling with young children, have been apprehended at the border since the start of the federal budget year in October.
The administration has released an unspecified number of them into the U.S. in recent months with instructions to report later to ICE offices. But it won’t say how many have been released or subsequently appeared as ordered.
The Obama administration said Friday it will open new detention facilities to house immigrant families caught crossing the border illegally, amid a surge from Central America.
ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement is handling the unaccompanied minors detained by U.S. Border Patrol and didn’t know if any detention facilities were being set up in New Mexico.