Casa Alitas Program - Aid for Migrant Families

Since 2014, the Casa Alitas Program has been serving Legally Processed Asylum Seekers (LPAS) – including migrant families, women, and children – who have fled their home countries to escape violence and persecution.With a small staff and over 250 active volunteers, we provide hospitality and humanitarian aid, including food, clothing, medical services, short-term shelter, and assistance with travel planning to reunite with family members in the U.S., ensuring LPAS can await their asylum hearings in safety.

Program Overview

The majority of Legally Processed Asylum Seekers (LPAS) arriving in our community are parents, children, and pregnant women escaping wars, droughts, gang violence, starvation, religious persecution, terrorism, economic collapse, and modern-day slavery. They seek safety and a better life from various parts of the world. In recent years, Casa Alitas has assisted LPAS – including migrant families, women, and children – from countries such as Guatemala, Syria, Afghanistan, Honduras, El Salvador, Romania, Nicaragua, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, Ukraine, Russia, Chad, Sudan, South-Sudan, Colombia, Venezuela, China, India, Mauritania, Mexico, and many others. Most have traveled through Mexico to reach the United States, with journeys lasting from a few weeks to several months.

In Arizona, Customs and Border Patrol provides asylum seekers with documentation and orders to report to an immigration hearing.For many, these hearings are scheduled months or even years later. At the start of 2018, more families were released into the Tucson community, requiring our assistance. This led to the use of the old Benedictine Monastery as a shelter, accommodating up to 350 LPAS per night, and later, a new Casa Alitas Welcome Center was established.

Currently, Customs and Border Patrol drops LPAS off at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center several times daily. Our hospitality centers often receive as many as 850 guests in a day, and by the end of 2023, this daily average more than doubled, with more than 1,800 LPAS assisted by Casa Alitas on some days.

Our dedicated staff and volunteers greet the travelers, providing a basic orientation session to help them understand their current situation and what to expect next.Given the diversity of our guests, with more than two dozen languages spoken daily at our Welcome Center, this orientation is crucial. Casa Alitas offers essential services, including:

  • Food: Guests are provided a simple meal upon arrival, often chicken soup and tortillas or bread, with meals served three times daily. For many, these are the first regular meals they've had in weeks since fleeing their home country.
  • Clothing and Shower Facilities: LPAS are given a chance to shower (bathing for the first time in days or weeks) and clean clothes (often donated by community supporters). Many have walked through the bottoms of their shoes, and their clothing may have been worn for weeks at a time and is falling apart. Some LPAS are released wearing little more than paper hospital gowns – their clothing may have been too ragged or dirty to survive.
  • Medical Services: Volunteer medical providers offer expert and compassionate medical support as needed, ensuring guests are healthy enough to continue their journey to their U.S.-based families and await their asylum hearings.
  • Short-term Shelter: LPAS who cannot travel immediately are accommodated in one of our shelters or an overflow facility staffed by volunteers and Catholic Community Services. Many stay for just one night before continuing their journeys, but some may stay longer if they need to raise money for bus or plane tickets or require ongoing medical attention. For many, a night on a shelter cot is the safest sleep they have had in weeks.
  • Assistance with Travel Planning: Casa Alitas staff and volunteers assist LPAS in contacting family members living in the U.S. who sponsor them during the asylum process. Staff also help coordinate and explain travel plans, often securing a confirmation number for a plane or bus ticket purchased by their family members.

Casa Alitas offers LPAS a safe environment in which to rest and care for their children. Before departure, families receive travel bags (sometimes donated backpacks, but more often reusable grocery bags) containing food, water, toiletries, hygiene items, diapers, and baby food as needed. We also provide blankets and small toys or stuffed animals for children to accompany them on their plane or bus ride, with bus journeys typically lasting 2 to 3 days.

Donations support up to 25% of our annual operations, and we sincerely appreciate gifts in any amount – THANK YOU! Learn more about how you can help.

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  • Oct 16, 2019, 16:37 PM