|Thank you to everyone who has offered their support as we work to provide emergency services to families who have been reunified at the Otero County Detention Center, New Mexico. Within 24 hours of being contacted by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), our refugee office in Albuquerque along with members from our Denver and CO Springs refugee offices, were ready to provide hospitality and transitional services beginning Saturday 7/21. Prior to July 24th we had not received any families at our Albuquerque location. However, we began receiving families yesterday evening which included 57 children and adults. Services included temporary housing, food, clothing, legal/health referrals, and transportation to their final destination in the U.S.
During this transition, families are in our care for only 24-32 hours. Most of the families we served have since departed via Albuquerque International Sunport and are in route to join family and friends across the country. All of the families served by LFSRM staff and volunteers have expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support from our communities.
In addition we have been blessed with endless support from the City of Albuquerque, Albuquerque Fire Rescue Station 2, medical and behavioral health physicians from the the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, and spiritual care services provided by many members of the clergy including Archbishop of Santa Fe John Wester, Bishop Jim Gonia Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA, Rev. Guillermo Yela of Camino De Vida, Pastor Judith Van Osdol Director for Evangelical Mission ELCA, Deacon Robert Vigil Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and Pastor Cruz Botello of New Covenant Worship Center.
Fundraising has been phenomenal with more than 1,000 individual contributions; plus donations of hundreds of gift cards, phone cards, and backpacks filled with travel comforts.
This has been a profoundly stirring time for all who have been privileged to be on the front lines of this reunification ministry. To see the doors open on the vans and buses with very tired, hungry and anxious families stepping down to the applause and cheering of our team; and then watch the tension and stress melt away as they are welcomed, fed fresh Salvadoran food and interact with team members, clergy, doctors and behavioral health professionals – all speaking to them in Spanish and Portuguese. Trust is built as they are loved and served; provided new clothing, Spanish-language bibles, and rosaries; treated for ailments and then transferred to hotels where they can be alone as families for the first time in months. Hope has been restored even though their futures remain uncertain. But for this time, in this place, they feel loved and valued as neighbors and fellow children of God.
Thank you for walking this path with them and with LFS. Through your gifts and your prayers you were with us and these families could not have been more humble and grateful for your love and generosity.