HOUSTON, Texas–Numerous churches and charity groups have started collecting donations to benefit the thousands of migrant children that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months. But in Arizona, where many of migrants are being housed, such donations have an uncertain fate.
A Border Patrol agent told Green Valley News that donations of clothing or toys are not being accepted because the agency does not have time to inspect such items to ensure they are safe and clean. The agent said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might accept donations in the future, but that right now the migrant children are being fed and taken care of properly.
State Sen. Andrea Dalessandro added that the holding facilities for the children are so packed, that there is no space to handle donated items, including clothing. Indeed, children and families from Central America are flooding the border at such a rapid rate, that authorities are resorting to makeshift camps and military bases for housing.
A spokesman with the Tucson Border Patrol Sector told Breitbart Texas that the officer responsible for dealing with donations and their fate is out of the office at this time.
Eric Cazares, office manager at San Felipe de Jesus Parish, told Nogales International that during a meeting with county emergency services, local church groups were told to stop soliciting items for the migrants. Despite this, charity groups continue to collect toys and clothing.
“There are about six ladies helping my wife, sorting more stuff. We are going to be giving it to them as they need it. We are just going to cut back on them a little bit,” Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino reportedly said as he packaged up donations at City Hall.
The mayor’s wife, Cathy Garino told Nogales International that a lot of the collected items will go to Child Protective Services–not directly to the migrant children or Border Patrol. She also said that any stuffed animals will not be accepted by Border Patrol for safety concerns; all such toys will go to the local police department to use during incidents where children are involved.
In this case, it is unclear why a higher safety standard seems to have been set for the Central American migrants than for local Arizona children.
Regardless of where donations for the thousands of immigrants end up, the involvement of charity and faith-based groups has been critical in handling what has been labeled a “humanitarian crisis.” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said during a press conference last week, “We called upon non-government and charity organizations to assist in this effort.”
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.