Border Patrol has apprehended a record number – 77,000 in the last year alone – of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, many of them fleeing from violence in Central America. Federal officials are preparing for another surge of immigrants crossing the border by diverting funds to pay for housing and care of unaccompanied minors. Customs and Border Protection is building a tent city near the international bridge southeast of McAllen to house those coming into the state.
Against this backdrop, Sen. Ted Cruz arrives in McAllen Friday for an invitation-only meeting on border security. Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, accepted his invitation.
The city of McAllen has spent upwards of $1 million trying to deal with the influx of people, without reimbursement. With such a slim safety net, many families end up at the Humanitarian Respite Center at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, run by Catholic Charities.
Over the past year, Catholic Charities has stepped in to provide basic humanitarian services – food and shelter – to those crossing the border. The center prides itself on providing “a place for the countless men, women, children, and infant refugees to rest, have a warm meal, a shower, and change into clean clothing as well as receive medicine and other supplies, before continuing on to their journey.”
Pimentel says she wants Cruz and other leaders to hear her message:
“I beseech the leaders of this country to always make decisions with not overlooking the fact that [immigrants crossing the border illegally] are human beings, are people,” she says. “We need to treat them with that respect that any human being deserves to be treated, and to be given an opportunity to look into the possibility whether they have a right to be here or not.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.