Central American Families Surprised When ICE Sends Them To Arizona

June 05, 2014

(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
ICE officials drop off Central American mothers and children near the Greyhound Station on 24th Street in Phoenix.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Guatemalan consulate representative Juan Carlos Santos Calderón assists one of the mothers transported to Phoenix by ICE.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez - KJZZ)
Central American immigrant families combs through the piles of clothing for their families. They were brought to a labor union building to eat, shower and change before traveling to their final destination in the U.S.

Another group of Central American families apprehended at the Texas border were dropped off Thursday at the Phoenix Greyhound Station. Most are women and children, and many are surprised they’re not returned to their native country.

By lunchtime Immigration and Customs Enforcement made at least two trips to the Greyhound Bus station on 24th Street, dropping off undocumented immigrants. Since late May the agency has released hundreds of border crossers in Phoenix because of overcrowding in Texas detention centers. Among the group of people transported today are Araceli Garcia and her daughter Rocio. 

“Thank God I was no longer fearful. I was so happy when they gave me the paper that game me permission to stay," Garcia said in Spanish.

Garcia says after they were apprehended, she thought they were being sent back to El Salvador.

But was surprised when she got off the bus and was told by pro-immigrant groups waiting for their arrival that they were in Arizona and were given temporary papers, pending a final decision by immigration authorities.

The more than 80 people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, were brought here to a labor union building in Phoenix. Community volunteers greeted them. The women and children were fed, given a place to shower, clothing, and toiletries.

In the back of the room sat Juan Carlos Santos Calderón, a Guatemalan consulate representative.

 Santos Calderón explains to one woman that the papers she received shows when she has to appear in a federal court. He’s also working with her family in Nebraska to secure her transportation to Omaha.

“Most of the families are not staying in Phoenix. Some go to North Carolina, other are going to Denver. In other words, to other states," Santos Calderón said in Spanish.

Santos Calderón says most of those brought here don’t stay in Phoenix. That includes Garcia and her daughter. They will make their way to Houston.  She says she’ll stay there for about three years to help her brother who’s suffering from kidney failure — and then she’ll go back to El Salvador.

Volunteers in the meantime say they will continue to greet and help every migrant who is brought here.