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Refugees in Tucson - Christmas 2019

December 16, 2019
By Sister Eileen Mahony, CSA

Carols this Christmas season remind us of Mary and Joseph’s seeking hospitality (posada) in Bethlehem as Mary was ready to give birth. They experienced “no room in the inn” but were offered a humble animal shed.

Families desperate to leave their homelands (primarily Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) journey perilously for days, weeks, months with their children and infants to the Arizona border. Along the way, they encounter inclement weather, police barricades, bribing, hunger, dehydration, illness. And this is the part of the story they chose to share! Once at the US border, if not turned away (sent home), they are given a number (metered) and told to wait. Some wait days or weeks in crowded detention centers; others outside in the elements.

Shortly after arriving and experiencing the hospitality of Casa Alitas, adults cry and children begin to run and laugh. In their 48-72 hour stay, they receive medical exams, food, clothing, and shelter as well as phone opportunities to speak with family back home and at their destination. Because of Washington’s restrictions, only about 50 asylum-seekers receive this welcome in Tucson daily. They are relieved. We the staff are blessed to welcome them.

Since January 2019, Casa Alitas volunteers have received more than 15,000 asylum-seekers.

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