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Appeal for support as immigrant buses arrive from southern U.S. border

donation closet.jpeg
Venezuelan Alliance
/
Submitted
Volunteers sort clothing donations for recently arrived immigrants at Hickory Grove United Methodist Church.

Thousands of immigrants in recent months have been loaded onto buses at the southern border and sent north to cities such as Washington, D.C., and New York.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, began ordering the charters in April, as a part of a national dispute over immigration policy.

Now cities like Charlotte are experiencing increased demand for emergency assistance for immigrant arrivals.

Around the time Abbott launched his migrant busing policy, Charlotte’s Latin American Coalition noticed a trend. More people, many from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, were arriving in Charlotte directly from the border.

Coalition director Jose Hernandez Paris said many of them had no local connections and didn’t know where to go to find assistance.

I would say probably about 5% are coming almost in a homeless situation when they arrive here. They hadn’t received any support out of Texas when they were told to leave,” Hernandez said. “In the six years that I've been here, I've never experienced someone with a child calling us and we're picking them up from a park. That's very unusual.”

Since May, Hernandez says the coalition has assisted about 1,400 people, including more than 500 children, that arrived from the border. Charlotte has become an alternative stopping point for migrants en route to Washington, D.C., and New York.

“Immigrants share that other places are running out of space. I think they figure that we are a good destination. So, you know, we want to be proactive,” he said.

For now, the coalition is relying on local churches and families within its network to provide temporary housing. But Hernandez said these locations are not a viable solution to address long-term housing needs.

“We want to prepare because I think if we are able to work with the ones that are coming in, place them and integrate them as quickly as possible, that will help us avoid the potential of this becoming a bigger crisis,” he said.

The Latin American Coalition has launched a GoFundMe to raise donations for items such as baby formula, food and personal hygiene items. Hickory Grove United Methodist Church is also accepting food and clothing donations.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte.