“Immigrants Find Hope in Laredo”
Hundreds of asylum immigrants seek refuge at the Gateway City of Laredo, Texas every day. They are only permitted to enter the United States, if they have a sponsor. After entering, two to three hundred are taken by bus to La Frontera, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Laredo shelter for further processing to connect them with their sponsors. The shelter has a minimal staff of seven and depends on volunteers to cover the vast amount of work that needs to be done.
On Memorial Day, May 27, accompanying good friends JoAnn and Salo Otero, Sister Rosemarie Goins delivered a check of $500.00 sent by the Provincial Administration of her community in North America, the Felician Franciscans. To her surprise Bishop James Tamayo was working at La Frontera that day and gave her a personal tour of the facility. JoAnn graciously did the photography.
As the immigrants enter La Frontera, the first check is health by the Laredo Department of Health. Next they enter a room to provide their statistics and get cool water and a snack. The next is to present information on their sponsor, so that the volunteers can quickly make the calls to arrange for transportation to their sponsors. In the next room information is computerized, so that a “paper trail” will follow them, wherever they go.
At last, they get clean clothing, a shower and whatever they need for travel. In the meantime dinner is being prepared in the kitchen. The children are provided coloring books and toys. Provisions are made, if they need to stay overnight and are sent forth with a big breakfast. Most of the immigrants usually can leave for their new home quickly, when it can be verified that their tickets are waiting for them at the airport or bus station.
The directors of the Catholic Charities site are Benjamin De La Garza and Joe Barron who work from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. Volunteers are badly needed, as well as, monetary donations and other needed items, such as, clothes, towels, toiletries, etc. There is also a great need to hire workers who can be depended on for daily coverage of every element of Catholic Charities’ ministry at La Frontera.
Sister Rosemarie also hopes to volunteer some of her time this summer. Benjamin said that she can man the snack table or sort clothing or maybe peel potatoes.