L.A. Welcomes Collective, in close coordination with City of L.A. and County of L.A., activate rapid response teams to welcome 37 asylum seekers just hours after tropical storm Hillary hits the region.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 21, 2023
Contact: Alicia Vargas; firstname.lastname@example.org
LOS ANGELES, CA — The L.A. Welcomes Collective, a network of immigrant rights, immigration legal services providers, and faith organizations, in coordination with the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles, responded Monday to the arrival of 37 asylum seekers sent from Brownsville, Texas, just hours after tropical storm Hillary hit the region. A total of 16 families were on the bus which arrived at Union Station Monday at approximately 6: 30 p. m.(Pacific).
Migrants were immediately taken to a receiving site in Chinatown where they were offered urgent humanitarian support services, including food, clothing, hygiene kits, health checkups, and legal immigration orientations. The Collective also facilitated reunions with family members, loved ones, and sponsors residing in the region. Of the 37 asylum seekers, the largest group (20) come from Venezuela. Others come from Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Ecuador. The majority of asylum seekers have relatives, loved ones, or sponsors in California. The Welcomes Collective was surprised to learn that Texas officials had given the green light to send this bus to LA knowing full well that the state, the county, and the city had declared Los Angeles an emergency zone amid the threat of Hurricane Hillary. This arrival marks the 9th bus with asylum seekers sent from Texas to Los Angeles. The members of the LA Welcomes Collective are: Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA), Central American Resource Center-Los Angeles (CARECEN), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO), Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA), and Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef). The following statements can be attributed to each representative from the following members of the LA Welcomes Collective:
"Immigrant Defenders Law Center condemns Gov. Abbot’s reckless decision to send a bus with nearly 40 people onboard, including 14 children and an infant, amid a historic storm in the region. In stark contrast to his cruelty, Immigrant Defenders Law Center is here ready to welcome these families, provide legal information and vital support to people seeking protection in the U.S. We will continue to welcome these families with compassion and dignity," said Lindsay Toczylowski, Immigrant Defenders Law Center Executive Director. "Sending a bus full of women, men, and children into harm's way is not only irresponsible, it's reprehensible. It shows a complete lack of common humanity," said Angelica Salas, CHIRLA Executive Director. "These asylum seekers have followed the rules to seek asylum at a port of entry, and they have spoken to U.S. officials that have conducted a preliminary analysis of their case and determined that these individuals have the basis for a credible asylum claim. It's plain wrong to send people to a zone that had been declared an emergency zone."
"As part of the LA Welcomes Collective, CARECEN continues its commitment to welcome migrants with dignity and respect," said Martha Arevalo, CARECEN Executive Director. "This bus comes only a few hours after Southern California was hit by tropical storm Hilary, the first of its kind in decades. It is an irresponsible political game by Texas officials to send vulnerable migrants and families into an emergency zone. We strongly condemn any actions endangering migrants and refugees, urging dignified and welcoming protections and policies at all governmental levels."
"In the heart of Los Angeles, the Catholic Church stands as a beacon of compassion and refuge, embodying an unwavering commitment to embrace migrants and refugees in their search for a brighter tomorrow. Guided by our faith, we answer the call to exemplify love, becoming stewards of humanity, forging pathways to unity and empowerment," said Michael P. Donaldson, Senior Director Office of Life, Justice and Peace, Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
"Migrants arriving in Los Angeles are human beings – not political pawns. They need our compassion and support – not to be bused into the middle of a hurricane. Sending people into an emergency zone is just shameful. Rain or shine, Esperanza will continue to stand up for migrants in our community," said Kimberley Plotnik, Program Director of Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.
"I was really shocked when I heard a bus was traveling to Los Angeles from Texas in light of the weather situation. Wow, why would they send a bus during these weather conditions, with no regard for the safety of migrants, and others. I pray for safety during their journey." said Guillermo Torres, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice Los Angeles (CLUE) and member of the Immigration Task Force of the Cal-Pac Conference of the UMC Church. ###
Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) is a next-generation social justice law firm that defends our immigrant communities against injustices in the legal system. We envision a future where no immigrant will be forced to face immigration court alone. Our programs are a first step towards the long-term goal of providing universal representation to all immigrants facing deportation. ImmDef is now the largest non‐profit, pro bono provider of deportation defense in California with offices in Los Angeles, Adelanto, Riverside, Santa Ana, and San Diego.