Local organizations come together to help illegal immigrants

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LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) - The surge of illegal immigrants being released into the country hasn't slowed down. Local non-profit organizations and volunteer groups have joined together to make sure those traveling a long way to get to family members have the essentials to get there.

They call themselves the Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team. The Bethany House, the Holding Institute, and Catholic Social Services have teamed up to form a system. This system helps these immigrants on their journey to their family members here in the United States.

Jose Luis Hinojosa plays an important role to this newly formed system; he drives the bus that transports these undocumented immigrants to the different stations the volunteer group has set up. The different stations provide essential services.

"Bottom line, there is a big number of people coming in."

Twenty, sometimes 30 trips are necessary a day. Catholic Social Services is the group that uses their bus to pick them up. The first stop when they get off the bus is right here at Bethany house, the Laredo homeless shelter. They help provide a meal. On Monday’s menu, chicken, a salad and some fruit will be served.

After, the bus will take them to the Holding Institute. Here, each person is allowed to pick out a change of clothes. Then, they take a shower.

A youth group from San Antonio is here, helping organize bags for the undocumented children and parents to take on the road.

"They have basic hygiene items in them, some soap, toilet paper, toe nail clippers, band aids. We are putting tooth paste in them, so they will be soon delivered to the bus station where the immigrants are coming in."

The Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team also lets them use cell phones, to make contact with the family members they are going to live with. The family members then provide the immigrants with the money needed for a bus ticket to get back home. This system works for now, but long term, they are still trying to figure out answers.

"But at some point, you've cleaned out your closet, what are you going to provide? At some point, you've worked an entire 40 hours, what more can you give? So that is the difficult part that we have now. We are taking a look at different ways of coordinating amongst ourselves because the impact is being felt."

This volunteer group has also been meeting with federal agencies to coordinate drop offs.

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