MIGRANT FAMILIES By Steve Kozachic, Ward 6

MigrantFamilyRetreat

You haven’t seen any front page, or lead stories on the evening news lately about the families who continue to be dropped off in Tucson awaiting their deportation hearings. As soon as the sexy optics of hundreds of children laying on the floor behind chain link fences, or protestors standing in front of buses disappeared, so did the “story” for much of the media. But this is an issue that’s affecting hundreds of lives each week right here in the Old Pueblo, regardless of whether the media is there to cover it.

Some Medias are still engaged. Arizona Bilingual Newspaper continues to allow me to report to you. In addition, in the past couple of weeks I’ve done interviews with a German newspaper and a BBC radio journalist. Here are a few of the more compelling aspects to this evolving story that the Europeans will hear/read, but are largely flying under the local radar:

The lady who gave birth to her baby here in Tucson, one day after having been processed through ICE, is now living with her next of kin on the East Coast.

Yet another mother who will soon give birth (she’s pregnant with twins), is now en route to her destination.

A man whom I confronted at the Greyhound Bus Station was confirmed by local law enforcement as being a known “human smuggler.” He was traveling with 3 young girls when I had my encounter with him. They stayed under the watch of law enforcement through-out their travel.

This has been an emerging problem, largely involving men from Eastern Europe (commonly Romania) who have smuggled young girls into the States and are using the flood of Central American families as cover to move through undetected.

Last weekend there were 4 families overnighting it at the Catholic Community Service “house” – where food and other provisions are on site 24/7. No longer are there any last minute frantic calls for assistance from the volunteers.

The Catholic Community Service Intake Center is now fully operational, off site from the Greyhound station. Since the change, Greyhound management has adopted a less than hospitable demeanor to volunteers assisting the families at the depot. What was once a welcoming and empathetic attitude has turned into one in which volunteers are no longer welcomed in the facility. Despite that, Project Mariposa volunteers will continue to ensure the women and their children will not run into any snags in terms of boarding their buses for the next leg of their arduous journeys.

There is reason to be concerned. There have been incidents in which, but for the presence of a volunteer to intercede, the women and children may have lost their legitimate seats on their scheduled bus.

In order to ensure the “touch of the community” remains the foundation of this effort, we have formed a broadly based steering committee. The steering committee for Project Mariposa is reflective of the community coordination that continues to be the hallmark of this humanitarian effort. It of course includes CCS staff, but is also composed of several churches, the Jewish Federation, some non-profits and of course the volunteers- who are the life-blood of this project.

There are so many important news stories that get aired every day. None has a more local impact, with an international component of volunteers and non-profit’s work in support of the migrant families as they transition through Tucson. We at the Ward 6 office are continuing to be the mid-town donation site – 3202 E. 1st. Non-perishable foods, shoelaces (Border Patrol takes them when the migrants are being processed – and doesn’t return them upon release,) Snugglies, and children’s backpacks continue to be items in need. Please give us a call at (520) 791-4601 for the particulars of the days’ needs.

Thanks to those of you who are staying engaged with us. The unfortunate reality is that the needs may have left the front pages, but they’re still here on our doorstep.