'Just doing what we’re supposed to do': Fire department helps refugees

How one N.M. fire department handled its sudden involvement in the southern border immigration crisis


Mother’s Day 2019 started out like any other Sunday in Deming, New Mexico – a sunny, cool late-spring morning in the desert. Then someone noticed something unusual.

A group of people were milling around in the vicinity of the downtown McDonald’s. They didn’t look like locals. A good Samaritan directed the strangers to St. Ann’s Catholic Church. Calls were made and the city manager went to investigate.

What he found was a rapidly growing group of people who had recently come across the southern border as refugees to the United States. Claiming asylum, they had been held in detention at the border until their status could be verified, and then, according to protocol, they were released to reside with family or sponsors in the United States until their immigration hearings were held.

But instead of facilitating the travel for these people directly from the detention facilities where they had been temporarily held, they were transported to the Deming McDonald’s, which also serves as the town bus station, and left there to fend for themselves.

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