Trump admin dumped thousands of asylum seekers in San Antonio. The city's response has been beautiful.
Photo by Mario Tama / Getty Images

Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers from Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” comprised of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, have fled to America over recent years to escape the region’s corruption, drug trafficking, and gang violence.

After these families are processed and detained at the border, they are scheduled a court date at their final destination in America, which is usually with a friend or family member.

Last March, hundreds of these immigrants began showing up at a Greyhound bus station in San Antonio, Texas. Since then, the stop has seen around 200 or more people on a daily basis. Most of the families have only what they can carry in their hands and are in serious need of food, money, and sanitary supplies.


“The migrants arrive only with the clothes they are wearing and what they can carry, and what they can carry in most cases is their young children,” Colleen Bridger, the city’s senior public-health official, told Mother Jones.

“We get no help or funding from Washington even though we are, in effect, acting as an extension of the federal government by processing and providing vital services to these asylum seekers," Bridger continued.

So, San Antonio and its citizens have banded together to help America’s newest arrivals.

The city opened up a resource center at a shuttered Quiznos sandwich stop by the station where it has served as a haven for the weary immigrants. Here, they can call family members and are provided with a new backpack, a Red Cross blanket, soap and toiletries, a bag of 20 snacks, a small stuffed animal, crayons and a coloring book, a used English-Spanish paperback dictionary, and a reusable water bottle.

They can also enjoy a hot meal served by the San Antonio Food Bank.

Catholic Charities has been spending around $14,000 each week to pay for bus fair for the refugees to help them reach their final destination.

The immigrants sleep at nearby Travis Park Church, a Methodist congregation, with a history of serving the homeless.

The response in San Antonio stands in stark contrast to that in Washington where lawmakers have stumbled at putting together any plan to alleviate the immigration crisis.

Recently, White House advisory Jared Kushner briefed Senate Republicans on a potential plan, but was greeted with skepticism even from his own party.

While the recent arrivals have put a strain on city resources, the people of San Antonio are putting the politics of the situation aside and providing humanitarian aid however they can.

“It’s easy for things to go political when you don’t have a name and a face to go with the problem,” Bridger told Mother Jones. “We have names and faces of families who are here, so I think when it’s up close and personal, people do a better job separating the politics from the people.”

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.