Hundreds of migrant families were dropped off by federal immigration officials in the Phoenix-area churches this week.
Ana Sofia, 5, arrived Tuesday night with her gray T-shirt dirty around her neck. Her frizzy blonde hair was tied in a ponytail with a long silver piece of plastic. She and her mother, Patricia, spent several days in government custody after traveling from Honduras.
Asylum-seekers who show up at official port of entries and immigrants caught crossing illegally usually spend time at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol holding areas that aren’t designed to hold people for long periods. There are limits to how long children can stay in these facilities. While there, their belongings are confiscated, including jewelry and shoe laces, and they’re commonly given a silver Mylar blanket for warmth.
Many of the mothers, fathers and children that arrived Tuesday had tied their shoes together with pieces ripped from those thermal blankets. At the church, some began putting the shoe laces back on and others picked new pairs of shoes donated by churchgoers.
Migrants interviewed by the Arizona Mirror said their only meals at the holding facility were lukewarm soup with uncooked noodles, three times a day. Churchgoers Tuesday welcomed the migrant families with warm plates of fried chicken, black beans, rice and tortillas.
Late Tuesday night, after taking a bath at the church, a yellow hair tie held back Ana Sofia’s ponytail. She wore a clean dress, purple leggings and a new purple sweatshirt.