Father’s Day Care Packages for Asylum Seeking Fathers
LUPE members have been busy collecting donations and turning them into care packages for new immigrant families recently released from immigration custody at the border.
After spending days or even weeks in cramped, cold, and squalid cells of US border immigration jails, new immigrants get their first taste of freedom when they are released to shelters and bus stations in border towns. LUPE and other border organizations offer a warm welcome and helping had as they ready themselves to continue their journey as newcomers to this country.
This month, we decided to mark Father’s Day by honoring new immigrant fathers for their sacrifices giving their families a better future.
Texas Public Radio and The Monitor joined us for the occasion. We share excerpts from their coverage below.
From Texas Public Radio
Migrant dads waiting at a bus station in the Rio Grande Valley likely weren't thinking about how to celebrate Father’s Day this past weekend. Still, local volunteers tried to make their ongoing journeys more comfortable for them and their families.
Samantha Trujillo, 22, is one of those volunteers working with the group La Union Del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, a local organization in the Rio Grande Valley.
She spent a recent morning packing toiletries like toothpaste, combs, soap and more into little plastic baggies at LUPE’s office in San Juan.
Trujillo and other volunteers gave these care packages to migrant dads at the McAllen bus station. The men were just released from being in the custody of immigration officials, and will head north to wait for their day in immigration court. Some of them are seeking asylum from their home countries.
The day LUPE handed out care packages was actually the day after Father’s Day. However, it was the day of Father’s Day in Guatemala and El Salvador.
“Mother’s Day is so heavily celebrated versus Father’s Day and we really wanted to make a difference and show fathers that they are appreciated and that we do see them and we do hear them,” said Trujillo.
From The Monitor
“It’s a blessing from God. I’m a good person, and I’ve felt God’s hands during this journey,” Mejia said. “I’m grateful for LUPE and honestly very surprised, because in Honduras we celebrate Father’s Day in March.”
Marta Sanchez of LUPE said bringing attention to the struggles Central American migrant parents face spurred the idea to provide care packages to immigrants who had just been released from the detention center.
Sanchez said the gesture is a continuation of other similar efforts the group makes in conjunction with other entities in the Rio Grande Valley.
Also spotted at the bus station Monday were members of the Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, members of the American Civil Liberties Union, and other notable immigrant advocates, who were helping in a myriad of ways to support the immigrants headed to their next destination.
In April and May, respectively, LUPE met with children and handed out materials for them to draw and color with; passed out books and read to them during Children’s Day, or Día del Niño, and then again handed out care packages for women on Mother’s Day just last month.
“The death threats in our home country, daily protests, a lot of corruption, they have privatized education, privatized health care, we are families of low income, there is no employment — all of that makes you look for better horizons,” Mejia said. “And, well my daughter, I could no longer provide her an education. That is why I came in search of an opportunity, maybe not so much for me, but for her.”