When migrants were bused into Houston, these people stepped in to help

Erica Simon Image
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Houston trans advocacy group turns office into migrant shelter
With a designated migrant shelter in Houston at capacity, a group that advocates for the trans community opened its doors to those who didn't know what to do next after arriving to Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The video is heartbreaking to watch.

Footage obtained by ABC13 on Wednesday shows children and families walking alone in the middle of the night with nowhere to go.

The video was taken last week at the Greyhound bus station on Harrisburg Boulevard in Houston's East End. The people in it were processed at the border and bused into Houston from Laredo.

For many of them, it's been a long, hard journey from Guatemala and other parts of Central and South America.

"We started to talk to them and found out they were recently released from ICE and just really needed to communicate with family so they can get to their next stop," said Jade Flores. "Economically, it's almost impossible to live over there. A lot of Guatemalans lived off of the land, and it's no longer sustainable. Everybody wants a better future for their family and their children."

So when the founder of Organización Latina Trans in Texas (OLTT), which works to provide resources for the Latino transgender community, drove by the migrants, she took them to her office and called in volunteers to help.

The group went on to make a makeshift shelter.

As the days went on, more busses came and more people needed a place to rest. At one point, OLTT was caring for roughly 100 people, including children.

"It's really sad," said volunteer Ingrid Sanchez.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he's spoken to the mayor of Laredo and the bus transports are going to stop for now and may re-route to Dallas.

"We've properly addressed the situation. I think now it's important to work with those cities and towns along the border, along with the Biden administration, to make sure there is a proper system put in place," Turner explained.

Most of the families at OLTT have been connected with family and have been able to make it to their final destination.

At least seven families are still at the shelter, but Houston councilman Robert Gallegos' office and other nonprofits are working to get them into a hotel.

Meanwhile, when ABC13 asked the volunteers how long they'll keep the help going, they laughed and said, "until we die."

Volunteers are also being mindful of the COVID-19 and taking precautions to keep them safe. ABC13 was told its top of mind for everyone involved.

The group said the migrants were processed and tested at the border before being sent to Houston, and thanks to volunteers buying tests, kits and resources from the city, they are able to test at the shelter as well.

If you'd like to donate or help the families, visit OLTT's website.

For updates on this report, follow ABC13 reporter Erica Simon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.