Ariana Saludares, her daughter Kim Taylor, Tyler Taylor and Morgan Schaller, Courtesy photo
Over 70 boxes of much-needed supplies donated by generous Los Alamos County residents for legal asylum seekers in Deming. Courtesy photo
Donated supplies from Los Alamos residents are loaded into this mimvan and a larger van for transport to Deming for legal asylum seekers. Courtesy photo
By TYLER TAYLOR
On October 25, those in Deming who assist legal asylum seekers felt the generosity of Los Alamos County residents. That afternoon, two vans delivered approximately 70 boxes of much-needed supplies to their center—run by Colores United, a group of determined and compassionate local people.
The delivery men were Kim Taylor, Morgan Schaller and myself. With Ariana Saludares, the Executive Director of Colores United, the three of us toured the facility, met staff, enjoyed the smiles on various guests’ faces, and watched children enjoy a playroom and a playground.
We learned that each guest previously spent 3-7 days in a federal detention center, was designated a bona fide asylum seeker, and then released to the Deming program. Most people then stay in Deming for 2-7 days before traveling to a sponsor’s home community – usually in a remote state. In some cases, no sponsor can be easily identified and the shelter staff makes calls in the US to find a sponsoring entity, often a process of more than one week. With around 200 guests arriving per week, this is a massive and amazing undertaking for a small team in a town of around 14,000!
For now, the “shelter” appears to be a highly structured program in which people are provided a room at a nearby Days Inn, but spend the entire day at the secure community center (a renovated bike shop). There they can safely rest, hydrate, eat community meals and make their future plans. Even a small clinic – of a borrowed fifth wheel – is on site for occasional minor medical needs.
On our delivery day, about 50 new people arrived, mostly from Ecuador and Nicaragua. But sometimes home countries are outside the Americas and have Russia, Turkey, Senegal, etc. included. How in the world do the staff communicate with everyone? Google Translate! Plus impersonation and autographs as needed. Smiles, kindness and persistence seem to make it work somehow.
While Ariana was delighted by the large amount of clothing, food, shoes and toiletries that had just arrived, it was learning that more than $6,000 in monetary donations had been collected that brought tears to her eyes. She explained that her FEMA bailout of monthly funds for the year had run out (as with other shelters), and our new money would allow her to pay her staff for another month. The leave she envisioned could be avoided—at least for a while.
Colores United is establishing a plan to have small groups visit Deming for a week, stay in a comfortable casita, volunteer and learn at the day center, experience regional attractions and “have fun “. A few people are piloting it now; expansion may come soon.
We don’t know how many dozens of people in Los Alamos County made this possible. Six congregations spread the word to their members, and word of mouth presumably helped from there. Next year this collection will likely be repeated, and hopefully on an even larger scale.
For those who wish to provide more assistance to this ever-changing and tired population, please contact Cathy Schaller at email@example.com to request winter clothing, socks, etc. to donate. She will be able to arrange delivery of those items to Deming in Deming. coming weeks. Direct monetary donations can be made at coloresunited.org.
Many thanks to these congregations, who have played a major role in our recent success:
- Unitarian Church of Los Alamos
- The United Church of Los Alamos
- The Church of Latter-day Saints, Los Alamos
- The Los Alamos Jewish Center
- White Rock Presbyterian Church
- Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church
Well done, LA County!! So many of us remembered that “There but for fortune go thou and me”.
Tyler Taylor learns how clothes are organized and distributed. Courtesy photo
The Deming Community Room and Dining Area with Kim Taylor at right. Courtesy photo
Ariana Saludares, her daughter Kim Taylor and Morgan Schaller in a relaxation space. Courtesy photo
The pantry. Courtesy photo
The playroom. Courtesy photo
The playground within the gated complex. Courtesy photo
Toilets at the day centre. Guest hotel rooms have showers. Courtesy photo