Migrant Families Reunite At Texas Charity
KORVA COLEMAN, HOST:
The federal government is scrambling to comply with a court order to reunite children with parents separated at the border. The deadline is this week. Dozens of families have reunited in San Antonio at a Catholic Charities facility before beginning the next stage of their journey. Bonnie Petrie of Texas Public Radio visited the shelter and has this story.
BONNIE PETRIE, BYLINE: When the parents and children arrive at Catholic Charities, they only have eyes for each other. Spokeswoman Christina Higgs says even though most of the parents and their children are clearly exhausted from a long and challenging journey, they're happy.
CHRISTINA HIGGS: They're in good spirits. They're back together, and I think that's what's most important to them.
PETRIE: Along with fatigue, Higgs says, there have been a couple of health issues. Two children arrived with scabies, a contagious skin rash that sometimes occurs when kids share close quarters.
HIGGS: If there are any health concerns, we've got doctors as well that we're calling in. And so - and everyone has been for the most part in really great health.
PETRIE: Intake workers then figure out what these newly reunited families need to move forward.
HIGGS: So once the family comes in and they're greeted, they're met with a caseworker, and their needs are assessed immediately. So these are questions like - besides, like, how are you and welcome, phone calls are made.
PETRIE: The first phone calls are to their home countries. They need to tell their families that they've been released and reunited. If the families at Catholic Charities have families in the U.S., they'll then call them and let them know they'll join them soon. Before they go, they'll have a hot meal; they'll pick out new clothes, toys and books for the kids; they'll get a good night's sleep in a hotel, and then they'll take a bus or fly to their destination. Catholic Charities is paying for all this with donated money. Higgs says ICE asked them to be ready to take in 400 people. By midweek, they'd helped five dozen. Higgs says these last few days have provided her with quite an education.
HIGGS: To see these children come in, to see these families, these moms who are just like me with my child, my husband - they're trying to find each other. They're trying to get somewhere permanent so that they can start anew, and it's what everybody wants.
PETRIE: The Trump administration said in court Friday it's so far reunited 450 children with their parents. It's up against a court-ordered deadline to reunite or account for all 2,500 of the children in custody by Thursday. For NPR News, I'm Bonnie Petrie in San Antonio.
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