"Necessity often results in unexpected relationships, and that's one
way to describe the connection between U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement and Annunciation House in El Paso, a shelter for
Ruben Garcia, the shelter's director,
said that as the federal government's El Paso-area detention center
swells with immigrants, particularly those seeking asylum, there is a
desperate need to house those whom officials have decided not to detain
but who still must navigate what can be a daunting bureaucracy until
their plight is determined.
For 34 years, the Catholic-run center
has been a respite for immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a
scant 10 blocks away. Garcia said the unlikely relationship between
Annunciation House and ICE -- and its precursor, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service -- has been going on for more than 25 years.
ICE is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; INS was folded into the department several years ago.
(federal agents) used to drop immigrants off a few blocks away and
point in our direction for them to walk to," Garcia said. "Our doors
are always open and they know it."
He said on one particularly
cold El Paso night, a U.S. Border Patrol agent tapped on the house
window and motioned to a van of immigrants who were just picked up and
had no place to go.
"Of course we took them in," Garcia said.
"Annunciation House has been privileged to bear witness to the
evolution of immigration."
Through the years, the relationship with ICE has evolved from covert to more overt referrals." - CNS, Feb. 14, 2012.