Community, government leaders meet to help immigrant families - Tucson News Now

Community, government leaders meet to help Central American immigrant families

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The federal government has told Tucson officials that undocumented immigrant families are no longer being flown or bused in from Texas, but there are still undocumented families, with their children, being dropped off at the Greyhound Bus station in downtown Tucson.

They are families who are being caught in Arizona.

Now that families are not being shipped in from Texas, the number of immigrants needing assistance in Tucson is much smaller but there's still a need, according those who met Wednesday at the offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

Representatives of local and federal governments, including the U.S. Border Patrol, along with representatives of religious groups and non-profits met Wednesday to continue coordinating efforts.

Roman Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas called the meeting--the second one as Tucson and Pima County deal with the families, mostly mothers and their children, coming from Central America.

They discussed how to help these families as they pass through Tucson.

Once they're processed, they are being taken to the Greyhound Bus station in downtown Tucson.

Some move on immediately. Others might have to stay a few days.

There are many issues, including transportation and coordinating the collection of donated items for travel bags so the families have food, water and other supplies for their trip from Tucson.

There's also the issue of transitional housing.

"So it's really a need for very temporary shelter kind of thing--overnight that we're trying to develop, a system to make sure these folks get taken care of. Particular concerns about the long holiday weekend coming up with July fourth," says Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias who attended the meeting.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild also was there.

"Now most of those families are coming in. They are then immediately going out to wherever they need to go. But in the course of a day, there may be anywhere from three to six, eight families who we simply need to get temporary housing for, resources and then they are generally moved out of the community in a day to three days," Rothschild says.

Bishop Kicanas says, "Some of the people coming are not acclimated to the culture and they don't speak the languages of our community. So they speak neither English nor Spanish, but indigenous languages.

The mayor calls that yet another challenge.

Bryan Davis, of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, calls it a fluid situation.

"It sounds like there's some advocacy work that has to be done for individuals as they arrive at the Greyhound station. There's possibility for hospitality needs at certain facilities and also material items that we might be able to provide," Davis says.

"I know there are some who feel that this is an invasion, that this is something that is troubling. But every nation today faces the fact that there are people coming to their country out of very desperate situations. And so to look upon this as what it is which is a humanitarian crisis in our community," Bishop Kicanas says.

The bishop says there is housing available for families, and it should be ready very soon.

Another meeting was to take place Wednesday afternoon at the Jewish Community Center in Tucson.

Representatives of non-profits, many of whom were at the earlier meeting, met to coordinate their efforts.

Bishop Kicanas says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be calling soon to perhaps see how local groups can help that federal agency deal with, what the bishop calls, this humanitarian crisis.

The group has agreed that Catholic Community Services will be in charge of donations of cash and other needed items for the families.

CCS of Southern Arizona is located at 140 W. Speedway, Suite 230.

The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

CCS has released a list of the items needed:  

Requested Donations for Central American Immigrant Women and Children:

Food for bus trips:

  • Bottled water
  • Gatorade
  • Pedialyte
  • Ramen noodles in cups (chicken)
  • Snacks like granola bars (non-melting ingredients)

Travel size toiletry items such as:

  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Hair combs/brushes
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitary pads for women

Baby/Child care items:

  • Diapers, sizes 3 and 4
  • Diaper cream
  • Wipes (in travel packs)
  • Socks for children
  • Underwear for children

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