Additional Resource

Latter-day Saints and Community Members Assist Asylum-Seekers in Albuquerque

Earlier this year, asylum-seekers came to Albuquerque, New Mexico, by the hundreds for temporary assistance. Many of those who sought asylum came from Central America and entered the United States in El Paso, Texas, an official port of entry. Upon entry, they were detained by the Border Patrol and given an Alien Registration Number.

Then U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) screened them and processed their requests for asylum. If they had a credible fear of persecution as well as a sponsor who would be responsible for them, those with children could be released to go to the sponsor. In these cases, ICE set court dates for asylum-seekers near the cities of their sponsors. The hearings would determine whether they could provisionally remain in the U.S. or be deported.


Albuquerque food pantry

Upon release in El Paso, before traveling to their sponsors, asylum-seekers could go to hospitality centers run by non-profit or faith-based organizations for temporary help. However, when the facilities in El Paso became overloaded, some of these asylum-seekers were sent to Albuquerque. Once in Albuquerque, they typically stayed about two days and then traveled by bus, train, or plane to areas throughout the United States to their sponsors.


Young Latter-day Saints in Los Alamos, New Mexico gathering clothes

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were encouraged by their local religious leaders to assist as needed. Maria Wittwer, as the Albuquerque coordinating council compassionate service leader, was called to be a liaison between the service and faith-based organizations in the community and the Church. She oversaw the resources of seven stakes and the Church in general to help meet the needs of hundreds of incoming migrants.

Wittwer reported, “I met lots of asylum-seekers from Central America, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. When they got to Albuquerque, they were tired. Most had been traveling for a long time. The people were grateful for the help that we gave them.” Wittwer also interacted closely with volunteers and said they were “selfless in their work.”


Lutheran Family Services in Albuquerque

Lutheran Family Services, Catholic Charities, Albuquerque Interfaith and in St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church and Congregation Albert received the asylum-seekers and provided housing, food, transportation and travel coordination. In conjunction with these organizations, volunteers throughout Albuquerque willingly gave their time, expertise (such as Spanish translation and/or medical skills) and resources.

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