On New Year’s Day, after driving 2,000 miles, we arrived at the McAllen Respite Center to volunteer for several weeks. We found the center running a well-organized, caring facility that was quite self-contained.
The center’s clients are all “refugees,” fleeing their homes because their lives had been credibly threatened by gang violence, war or government corruption.
“Refugees” are in the USA legally through treaties signed with the United Nations and other individual nations of the world, and these all have “sponsors” to whom they are traveling. After preliminary immigration processing the Border Patrol delivers them by bus to the Respite Center, where they receive badly needed rest, food, a shower, shelter, rudimentary health care and help organizing their onward journey to their sponsor.
Most are partial families, many with small children, but they all seem uniformly pleasant, friendly, polite and surprisingly upbeat given the situations that drove them from their homes, extended families, language and culture and into the further abuse that they suffer during their travels to our southern border.
Their travel plans arranged, the Respite Center transports them by van to the McAllen bus station, where they obtain their printed tickets (purchased by their sponsor) and then patiently wait for their bus. They know that if they cross law enforcement for any reason, they will probably lose their hope for a safe life for their families and will be sent back to the dangers that they have endured a long and dangerous trip to escape.
We can’t imagine any better behaved people on American soil. Once they get oriented, they will be excellent, productive citizens. We wonder at the complaint that was presented to the McAllen City Commission, which certainly has little basis in fact and does not represent traditional American or Christian values.
Stephen Schuck, Santa Rosa, Calif.