How One Church Became A Migrant Processing Center
Speaker 1: 00:00 Customs and border protection used to make travel arrangements for asylum seekers when they released them from detention. That stopped several months ago. Nonprofits have been picking up the slag, including churches. Kcrws Benjamin Godttlieb recently spent some time at one church in the southern California desert that's become a de facto migrant processing center. Speaker 2: 00:22 What'd he can hear me loud, roughly? It's lunchtime. Our Lady of Solidad Catholic Church in Coachella, just south of India, that two dozen people sit patiently as volunteers. Makeup plates of Chicken Salad, tostadas student Turkey and Pasta with Marinara sauce. I believe with the spirit to Santo. For most of the people at the table, this is the first real meal they've had in days like Alberto Chubby. Speaker 3: 00:50 Oh, I Miss Cynthia [inaudible]. Speaker 2: 00:59 [inaudible] say Chubby says he didn't eat because he spent what little money he had on his daughter Isabel. They are seeking asylum in the United States and their journey began in El Salvador. Speaker 3: 01:15 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 01:18 Chubby says, yeah, he needs a silent because in his hometown, a local gang told him he had to join. He refused. His story echoes those of tens of thousands of central Americans who have been processed by US officials since December of last year. Customs and border protection says it can't manage all the needs of all the people requesting asylum. And so the agency has turned to busing folks from the border to inland California, including our lady of Solidad in the Coachella valley. Father Guy Wilson is the pastor here. We receive mothers who have little infants and they hold on to him so tight, and the reason is they're fearful that the government's going to take their children from them. Wilson says he's received more than 4,000 asylum seekers since last October, dropped off by county officials or by volunteers. The church feeds them, close them, and then helps them by a bus or plane tickets. Most of the asylum seekers here are headed to the east coast where they have relatives that includes shabby and Isa Bell Speaker 3: 02:22 [inaudible] [inaudible]. Speaker 2: 02:27 He's headed to Manassas, Virginia to stay with his brother in law as he awaits his immigration court dates. It could be waiting anywhere from six months to several years. Speaker 1: 02:37 That was kcrws Benjamin Godttlieb reporting.