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Tucson shelter opens its doors to migrants hoping for a life in the U.S.

casa alitas.jpg
Posted at 12:49 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 15:49:51-04

'Bienvenidos' or welcome, is what hopeful migrants see when they enter Casa Alitas— a shelter located in the heart of Tucson.

“We can process, anywhere from like 20 to 90 people per day. It really depends on our community partners, what DHS is doing, and we get very little notice of what it could look like. So we're always talking to people, making sure we have strong relationships to make sure that we're most effective in responding to the numbers,” said Diego Pina Lopez, coordinator at Casa Alitas.

Pina Lopez and his team at Casa Alitas are seeing the result of what’s happening at our southern border daily— but they are fully equipped to help.

“In our community here in Tucson, are just all over Arizona as I've learned last few months is really motivated, passionate, and supportive, are our brothers and sisters, just south of us, or really around the world as we're seeing," he said.

Dozens of volunteers give their time to help migrants with anything from paperwork to having a good meal.

“Usually it takes about a day to three days for guests to leave us,” explained Pina Lopez.

One of those people is Osladys — noticeably clothed in an ankle monitor.

“I am another immigrant who wants to see the u.S. I want to be a legal immigrant — not an illegal immigrant. I know entering illegally is more challenging in the U.S.," she said.

She and her teenage son are from Cuba. She told KGUN 9 she waited for nearly a year and a half to enter the U.S. in Nogales, Sonora.

The Migrant Protection Program (MPP) and Title 42 could be why they waited.

MPP was instated in 2019, by the Trump Administration. It requires those crossing into the U.S. without proper documentation to wait in Mexico. Title 42 returns people to Mexico due to the pandemic.

For Osladys, coming to the U.S. was about her and her family’s safety.

“I came to have peace of mind with my son because in Cuba we couldn’t have that. We couldn’t have it in Mexico either," she said.

She has a message for President Biden.

“I want to ask him mainly to give immigrants a chance. We are asking for asylum from different countries—shelter and rooms. We all faced lots of problems and lots of situations on our journeys. All we’re asking for is an opportunity— that you’ll help us pass into the U.S. and that it’s done legally," she said.

Her hopes for her future are that her son gets an education and that she gets a job doing whatever is available.

Like many migrants when their stay at Casa Alita’s is over, they are continuing their journey to legal status. She hopes to reach the east coast.

While she ventures on, others will arrive as more and more people are being allowed into the U.S.

Casa Atlias is still asking for volunteers to help out and even donate necessary items.