McAllen church sees immigrant surge

Volunteers with the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen accommodated more than 60 new faces on Monday afternoon.

Men, women and children arrived at the church seeking shelter after fleeing from their countries in an effort to look for a better life.

They had a long journey. They never had a chance to clean themselves off and rest and properly eat," said Sister Norma Pimentel with the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Upon arrival, families were given clothes, food and shelter, as well as advice about getting to their next destination.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, a center that shelters people from all over the world, saw families arriving from Romania, Ethiopia and Brazil on Monday.

"I was with my daughter and I started crying. We suffered very, very, much," said Rosie, an immigrant from Brazil.

She and her 12 year-old daughter made their trek from Brazil, traveling for five days through buses and eventually walking for hours through the Texas- Mexico border.

I want to give a better life to my kids, because I can TMt do that in Brazil. Life is very, very hard. There TMs not enough to eat," she said.

Like Rosie, many women make their trips alone from their home countries with only their children, experiencing extremely difficult circumstances along the way.

Iris Ramos, who TMs from Honduras, said she is fleeing from a dangerous gang who killed her husband.

"My husband was a cop and they killed him. Ever since then I couldn TMt live in my house. My husband's enemies began to threaten me. I couldn TMt keep living there. That TMs when I made the decision to come here, but it TMs not easy, Ramos said.

Fearing for her life, Ramos said she rode in the back of an 18-wheeler for four days with her 16 year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, who she said is disabled.

Along the way, Ramos said she was robbed, assaulted and mistreated by coyotes. Now, she hopes to find a home with her sister who lives in Louisiana.

"Living in Honduras is very difficult because of the crimes by the Maras. It TMs very dangerous. One can TMt have anything because you'll get assaulted, killed or robbed for everything you TMve worked for," Ramos said.

The families who arrived at the Sacred Heart church said they are thankful to find a safe haven, even if it TMs only for a few hours.

"They give you food to eat, drinks and clothes. God bless them," Rosie said.

Pimentel said the church is asking for any clothing, food or toiletry donations, as well as volunteers.

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