“At least 25 percent of families include pregnant women,” Mr. Villarreal said. “Some of them have been traveling for weeks from South America in extremely difficult conditions.”
Families are tested for Covid-19 upon arrival at the Houston shelter and are then given a change of food, water and underwear, in addition to access to showers and beds.
“Some of our families have been traveling for weeks, not bathing, not eating properly, without access to feminine hygiene products,” Villarreal said.
From Houston, many families, who typically stay less than 24 hours at Mr. Villarreal’s shelter, then travel to places in the United States where their loved ones live. Relatives have to pay for the plane ticket, but volunteers have mobilized to do so if this is not possible.
Mr. Isaac, his young son in his arms, left Haiti in 2017, fleeing what he said was a never-ending cycle of violence, poverty and natural disasters. In Chile he met his wife and they had a son, Hans, who was burned in an accident and needs medical attention. There he worked in construction, hospitality and food service, and he said he planned to look for similar jobs in New York City.
He and his wife hadn’t planned it that way, but Hans celebrated his second birthday on Wednesday – at an American airport that was their near the end of what had been a very long trip.
“I felt bad because we all came here for the same reasons,” he said of the many Haitian migrants he met in Del Rio. “I knew not everyone was going to get away with this. We were lucky.
James dobbins contributed to Del Rio reporting, and Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.