South Texas churches house migrants released from detainment: 'They are at a loss for words'

Mycah Hatfield Image
Thursday, March 18, 2021
South Texas churches house migrants released from detainment
The most one church has gotten in a night is 230, but typically it's about 100. It's where they stay for the night before their next destination.

Texas (KTRK) -- Early Wednesday morning, border patrol agents drove up and down the Rio Grande. It's a waiting game, but one they said can be quite active.

A group of about 20 migrants were captured near Granjeno just as the sun came up. Agents gave them what appeared to be bags with masks, food and water. The group was put in vans and would likely be detained for days or sometimes weeks.

Not far away, a van pulled up to the Catholic Charities respite center in McAllen. About 20 people, including men, women, expectant mothers and young children, filed inside.

The center allows them to stay for the night before they head to their next destination. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Mission serves as an overflow facility for the respite center. Pastoral assistant Alberto Solis said they typically receive about 100 people a night, but they did take in 230 one night.

READ ALSO: Border Patrol stopped illegal crossings 100K times in 4-month span

Eyewitness News reports from the Texas border in the midst of a growing immigration crisis involving minors. In the video, a startling statistic illustrates the surge happening at the southern border.

Most are families with children, according to Solis. He said the youngest to spend the night was a 2-month-old. They have only been used as an overflow facility for the last month, because Solis said that is when the need arose.

Classrooms typically used for Sunday School are lined with mats. Each has a blanket on it. That is where the families sleep. Their main building is where the migrants are fed.

Solis said the community has come together to provide them with food, hygiene products, over-the-counter medication and baby supplies. They also have two classrooms full of clothes.

"When they get here, they are kind of at a loss for words, because they aren't expecting this," Solis explained. "Their whole journey they are expecting another tragedy, another tragedy, another tragedy. They finally get here and, 'We get here to a cooked meal. We ask for something they've got it.'"

WATCH: Reporter Notebook: Covering the border crisis

In the video above, ABC13's Mycah Hatfield shares insight about covering the border crisis from the Rio Grande Valley. Hear her take on meeting with migrants, border patrol agents and what she says was the biggest challenge.

The migrants arrive at 6:30 every night and leave by 9:30 in the morning. Our Lady of Guadalupe has brought in clowns to entertain the children and their families at night. They allow the children to play with their animals and play on the playground.

READ ALSO: Teens who escaped Honduras recall being detained at border for 2 months before reuniting with mom

A 17-year-old boy forced to either join a gang or lose his brother found himself detained at the border while trying to escape the gangs in Honduras. Hear what he says happened in those months he was detained before being reunited with his mom.

"Even some of the parents of the kids they may be mid 20s or early 20s... They even ask, 'Is it OK if we play on the playground, because we didn't have childhood like this?'" Solis said.

Once they arrive, the families do not talk much about the details of their journey to get to U.S. soil. Solis believes it is because it was difficult and they do not want to relive it.

Follow Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.