MIRA is visiting Jackson’s downtown transit terminal every day to bring food and water to hungry migrants as they travel from ICE facilities in Texas to locations across the Southeast and East Coast. Families, including babies and young children, are shunted from ICE facilities onto Greyhound buses and are given no food or water for the journey. By the time they reach the layover in Jackson, many of the migrants have been in transit for over 24 hours with nothing to drink or eat. MIRA staff and volunteers deliver bags packed with water, fresh fruit, meal bars, applesauce, crackers, and other portable food items.
There are a few developments in this situation that we want to share with you.
MIRA is working on this effort in conjunction with the Southeastern Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN). Pro-immigrant groups in other cities across the Southeast are also delivering food at Greyhound stations, including sites in New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte, and more. In Jackson, our transit terminal houses multiple providers (Greyhound, Amtrak, and JATRAN city buses), but in some areas, the layover terminals are Greyhound-only. Some aid groups are reporting that they are not given access to the Greyhound-only terminals, preventing them from delivering relief items to the migrants. We’re fortunate to have a good relationship with the Greyhound employees in Jackson – they are sympathetic to the initiative. We are watching to see whether Greyhound as a whole will be more cooperative with relief groups in the coming weeks.
Another issue that’s cropping up is that some detainees are missing their asylum hearing dates because the court appointments are being scheduled too soon after their release from ICE facilities. The bus trips are multiple days long, and in addition, many of the migrants speak only Spanish (but some don’t even speak Spanish – rather, local indigenous languages). They struggle to understand the bus routes and connection cities, and sometimes have a very short turnaround time to make their asylum hearings. The confusion and long travel has meant that some detainees are missing their court dates, and we’re hearing reports of arrests occurring in certain cities because of this.
Lastly, we want to recognize some local restaurants that are donating fresh hot food for migrants – Carnicería Valdez, Restaurante El Sabor, and Jose’s Tamales have been providing food, and our new staff member Luis Espinoza is coordinating pickup and delivery.
Between ten and forty migrants ride on each of the 2 buses that arrive daily, and MIRA is spending about $50 per day to provide for the travelers. This cost is adding up! We need your financial support to continue this program – please donate to help us continue this important work. Please give as generously as you can, but remember that every donation is helpful, no matter how small.