Locals Gearing Up to Assist Travel Savvy Illegal Immigrant TeensOpinion
SAN ANGELO, TX -- All eyes will be on San Angelo and Goodfellow Air Force Base in about four weeks as the first of thousands of illegal immigrant teen detainees arrive here.
Since the Trump administration’s announcement that Goodfellow AFB would house the 13 to 17 year olds, local agencies and organizations have announced plans to assist the teens while they are housed on the base by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services while local citizens have been trying to find ways to provide assistance as well.
The teenagers who arrive at Goodfellow AFB may have traveled thousands of miles and crossed countless fences. They are travel savvy and some may be dangerous gang members. “People who study MS-13 agree that when young gang members travel from El Salvador to the U.S., they are driven by the same economic factors driving other Central American immigrants.” writes Hanna Dreier with Prorepublica.org.
Bishop Michael Sis of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo says Catholic Charities and Catholic Churches stand ready to provide whatever assistance they can. “The Catholic Church of this area stands willing to assist with the spiritual needs of the residents, and we are also willing to offer any other volunteer charitable services that are allowed by the administrators of the detention center. Our clergy and volunteers are able to communicate with the residents in Spanish.”
On June 25, Bishop Sis participated in a prayer vigil on the steps of the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo. The purpose of the vigil was to pray for those families who have been separated after entering the United States.
Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd on June 26 said Goodfellow AFB will house 1,000 detainees initially expecting an increase to 7,500. Floyd says they will be 13 to 17-year-old unaccompanied males and females. They are expected to be at Goodfellow AFB from July 31 to December 18 with a possible extension of time.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible to house, feed, clothe, and educate them. The HHS plan includes one-on-one supervision for a maximum 7,500 detainees.
Outside of local religious groups’ offers of humanitarian assistance, dozens of organizations are soliciting donations to provide legal assistance for the immigrant teens. The Texas Tribune has an extended list of the liberal-leaning organizations.
While compassionate Texans are banding together to help provide for the basic needs of the immigrants, the reasons they have traveled across Central America to cross the U.S. border illegally are complex and muddled in politics. The media and elected Democrats blame the Trump administration for its zero tolerance policy towards illegal immigration at the southern border. Conservatives and President Trump blame Congress and a broken immigration policy that is decades old. The administrations of Central American countries also shoulder much of the blame for economic conditions which cause unaccompanied teens to flee to the United States where the generosity and compassion of the American people is the best in the world.
At least one thing is for sure; should immigrant teens be detained at Goodfellow AFB, Texans will respond with kindness and generosity until elected officials can find a way to work together long enough to reach a humanitarian solution to an inhumane problem.