Friday, April 19, 2024

Asylum Seekers Face Homelessness As They Wait For Their Immigration Hearings

Adri Fernández’s only possessions are his cedula (Venezuelan ID card), recently donated shoes, and some clean clothes. He’s trying to start his own American Dream but is alone.

Migrant families and unaccompanied children have been the main groups coming to the U.S. this past decade. However, Fernández is a single adult arriving without family to turn to or contacts willing to help him get back on his feet after his release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“When I arrived, they started asking me at Immigration where I am going. With all sincerity, I said I had no relatives here and that I had nowhere to go. So, they gave me an address and told me: Does San Antonio work for you? I told him yes.” Fernández, 26, recalled.

Asylum seekers awaiting their scheduled hearings usually arrive in cities like San Antonio with documents from ICE that say, “currently residing at” and an address. Noticias Telemundo Investiga found that the addresses generally belonged to nonprofit organizations or U.S. contacts provided by the migrants; some contacts did not want to take responsibility for them.

Fernández, the Venezuelan asylum seeker, said he was given the address of an office building that housed a nonprofit group, which told him it could not provide him with shelter or help. “They tell me — they don’t have any help for Venezuelans right now,” he said. He found his way to a plaza in central San Antonio, where he found a church that offers migrants a place to sleep at night.

Meanwhile, waiting for a shower at the Christian Assistance Ministry, Venezuelan brothers Jordan and Mendoza Alvarado were trying to get to their assigned address. They needed to raise about $20 to travel to Houston, their first stop, where they would need to raise money for the next ticket.

When they found a phone, they tried to contact the phone number provided by officials, but the brothers could not get past the automated messages in English. They didn’t know if they’d have a place to sleep when they made it to Orlando, their final destination.

Regardless of what happens next, Mendoza Alvarado said they would keep making their way.

“I have no problem. We keep fighting,” he concluded.

NBC News