With the expiration of Title 42 quickly approaching, faith-based organizations in Douglas are teaming up to provide food and shelter for asylum seekers.
We care about people and this is a humane town, said reverend of First Presbyterian Church in Douglas, Peggy Christiansen.
Because it’s unknown how many people will seek asylum through the Douglas port of entry, the local churches are staggering out when they will open as shelters. First Presbyterian Church will be the first to open as a shelter.
Christiansen said they are approved to host 50 people. Once they are at capacity another church will open. She anticipates people only staying for a short time because they will catch buses to Pima County.
The church chose to be involved because they want to be helpful and take care of those who need.
Thats who we are. We believe that we are all children of god and, um, that the welfare of all people is connected, Christiansen said.
Cochise County gave the church cots and limited resources, making it the church’s responsibility to have what they needed to feed and support those who stay.
It kind of seems like its in our hands,” Christiansen said. “Were hoping that maybe there will be some governmental organizations that can step up with some resources.
Currently, the state is providing buses and transportation of asylum seekers to shelters in Tucson. It’s not certain where they will take people if Tucson can’t take in any more people, or how long they will continue to aid in transportation.
Members of the First Presbyterian Church congregation are volunteering to support the effort. Susan Kramer is in charge of the meals when and if they have people staying at the church. She said their main concern is making sure these people who have been processed and approved have a place to go.
Kramer said Customs and Border Protection will be processing people through the night and leaving them stranded by the port of entry. Rather than let them find their way around, church members will welcome them at the port and transport them to the church where they can have a meal and a place to sleep. Kramer expects they then will take the next bus out of town.
People who are crossing and who are seeking asylum, they dont want to stay here,” she said. “They have a goal to be somewhere else, and were helping them get there.
Because Cochise County doesn’t typically see many asylum seekers, local governments and nonprofits are figuring out the plan as they go.