Phoenix nonprofit providing phone kits to migrants released by ICE

Apr 8, 2019, 4:15 AM
(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)...
(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)
(KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Churches and local groups have been providing food, clothes and shelter to migrants released by immigration authorities.

Now, a newly formed nonprofit is providing a different type of help.

The Last Mile is putting together phone kits for migrants to take with them on their way to meet with family members across the United States.

The phone kits include a prepaid phone with about 60 minutes of talk time. There’s also a sheet with common English and Spanish phrases to help migrants communicate along the way, and an envelope with stamps so migrants can mail back the phones once they reach their destination.

#thelastmileaz was on the scene again this morning as ICE dropped off more asylum seekers, many children, on the streets…

Posted by The Last Mile on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Jade Duran, president of The Last Mile, said migrants have expressed gratitude for the phones.

“You can see that they just want to make that first contact to their family that’s here in the states and say, ‘I’m here. I’m safe. I’m on my way to you,’” she said.

Duran said the idea for the phone kits came in December. She and a group of friends were at a church helping migrants seeking asylum who were released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That’s when Duran said she met a 19-year-old mother who was planning to travel by bus to Tennessee with her 2-year-old son.

“They were both sick, and it was really terrifying,” she said. “I felt super uncomfortable just dropping them off at the bus station and not knowing if they made it there.”

Duran said she bought the young mother a prepaid phone to take with her on the trip. She and her friends also bought more phones for other migrants.

“We were like, ‘Wait, why don’t we just do this for everyone?’” she said. “This is a key piece that’s missing of this process of ensuring that people are making it safely.”

After that, they started collecting donations and putting together the phone kits. Since January, they’ve provided 85 phone kits. They’ve also connected migrants with translators whom they can call if they run into issues on their way to meet their family members.

Duran said it has made a big difference.

“Everyone has been really happy to have a phone and to have a means of communication,” she said. “You can see it in their faces when we are handing them the phones. They’re just so happy to have this type of support.”

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Phoenix nonprofit providing phone kits to migrants released by ICE