A cascade of right-wing migrants in the United States inspires volunteers to act | Migration

The Cuban man got off the bus wearily after the long journey to Washington DC, expecting to see an official or volunteer with information on next steps for him and his fellow passengers.

Instead, he was greeted by TV news crews. Texas officials had informed conservative media — but not anyone who could offer practical assistance — that the latest batch of asylum seekers they were controversially unilaterally sending from the US-Mexico border would be dropped off outside the vice’s residence. -US President Kamala Harris.

“Our usrons hear? he later said in frustration about volunteering for Claudia Tristán when she caught up with the people she was trying to help, she told the Guardian. This translates to “so they used us?”

Tristán is the immigration campaign director for the advocacy group MomsRising/MamásConPoder, but she also volunteers in a self-help group.

Members rushed to the nation’s capital before dawn to meet the busloads of asylum seekers that the governors of Texas, Arizona and now Florida have sent north without any connection to the places where they find themselves in a deepening political, legal and ethical scandal. .

On an early fall morning earlier this month, volunteers waited at 6 a.m. where the buses normally ran. They waited and waited, but no bus. As 7 a.m. approached, some volunteers reluctantly had to leave for their day jobs.

Then Tristán received a tweet showing that a bus had suddenly arrived miles away at the vice president’s official residence, the US Naval Observatory on busy Massachusetts Avenue, where buses had never been. presented before.

She jumped in her car and raced through town. Fellow volunteers from the self-help group Sanctuary DMV, an organization focused on helping migrants in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, also rushed there.

“It was the morning rush hour. The streets were filled with regular commuters heading to work,” Tristán said.

When she got there, she was the first to arrive with help, and the first person she met was a bewildered mother holding her baby in a Red Cross blanket.

“Everyone was completely confused,” Tristán said.

Once she excitedly announced “welcome to our nation’s capital” to passengers, there was a moment of visceral relief as they gravitated towards her, she said. It was “almost a breath they let out, because someone was going to give them answers,” Tristán added.

“One of the most important things is to be there to greet families with a smile and a ‘buenos días’ as soon as they get off the bus,” she said. “Many told us we were the first friendly faces they had seen in days or even weeks.”

But she lamented her organization’s belated response: ‘We weren’t there because Texas politicians chose to put on a show for TV crews instead of showing humanity to asylum seekers. by alerting volunteer networks to the change of location. [They] left people like this mother having to hug their babies tightly during those chilly morning hours, all the while hoping that help would come.

Normally, self-help groups give a formal welcome to newcomers about who they are and what they do. They offer provisions such as food, water, clothing, breastfeeding products and assistance with communication and further travel. If needed, groups such as MomsRising/MamásConPoder, which typically focus on strengthening family economic security and women’s rights, will provide additional advocacy where they can.

“Unfortunately, many boarded the buses with little or no information about where they were going, where Washington DC is and what will happen when they get here. They told us they were parked like animals,” Tristán said.

Typically, asylum seekers are given a hot breakfast and a chance to rest in a group respite center after being on a bus for two or more days, then volunteers speak with each family or party individually to begin an admissions process, explaining rights and options. .

Tristán often picks up bagels for newcomers on the way to the buses. She also takes to Twitter to protest.

Or explain what an asylum seeker is.

🗣️Scream into the void: Immigrants bused in from Texas and Arizona are asylum seekers. They were processed by ICE and received documentation, so you can say they are documented immigrants and/or asylum seekers.

— Claudia Tristan (@tristan_claudia) September 15, 2022

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a temporary emergency earlier this month due to thousands of people being bussed without consultation in the district. New York, Chicago and Martha’s Vineyard have also more recently become unannounced destinations.

Tristán noted that nonprofits and self-help groups are working around the clock to fill the loopholes of authorities. Volunteers settled asylum seekers on their sofas or in a guest room or basement, or raised money to fund bed and breakfast stays, especially when the city’s shelters are full .

“The community stepped in when no one else did,” Tristán said.

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