Phoenix nonprofit has given medical aid to almost 7,000 migrants this year
PHOENIX — Phoenix-based nonprofit One Hundred Angels has provided almost 7,000 migrants released from federal detention with medical assistance since it began working with churches in December.
Cecilia Garcia, the group’s founder, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday that the nonprofit was founded in August.
“We are just looking to transform the physical, mental and spiritual health of humanity,” she said.
Arizona and other border states have been overwhelmed with the number of migrants seeking asylum who are detained at the border then released from federal detention into the U.S.
Numbers released by Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday show that more than 15,000 migrants were apprehended in the Yuma and Tucson sectors in March alone.
One Hundred Angels CEO Yadira Torres told KTAR News that the group works to do as much as it can to improve the migrants’ condition.
“We take medical supplies and with medical help … we triage the immigrants and look for any emergencies or nonemergencies,” she said.
“Sometimes they have coughs, foot fungus, they have diarrhea, dehydration … and sometimes they have injuries from jumping the border — ankle sprains to broken bones to lacerations from the wires at the border.”
Garcia said their outreach is much needed.
“They all come in very weak conditions. They have … stomach issues, pain, allergy issues,” she said.
“They’ve been traveling for many, many days. They’ve been in custody for many days. They haven’t been eating well, they are dehydrated.”
She said from Jan. 1 to March 31, the group served 6,551 migrants, and she estimated that more than half of those were children.
Torres gave the example of a mother who was carrying her child when she jumped the border and got her foot stuck in the wire. She fell backward, protecting the child, and fractured several ribs.
Torres said border agents gave the mother an X-ray and a brace but released her without medication, which is where One Hundred Angels stepped in and provided her with pain relievers.
Some of the immigrants are afraid to receive medical treatment because they think they will get in trouble, Torres said.
“We try to explain to them that they’re safe now,” she said.
“Nobody’s going to take their children away, they’re not going to be put in prison. It’s for their best and the best for the child.”
She said the group tries to treat immediate issues but also helps immigrants stock up on resources they may need while traveling.
“We get donations of over-the-counter medication and that’s what we provide to them,” she said.
“We try to give them comfort for that day, and if they’re traveling we try to provide it for three to five days for their travel.”
Garcia said about 50 medical professionals volunteer with One Hundred Angels, and the group is always looking for more.
She said the group also benefits from donated prepaid gas cards because members drive hundreds of miles daily, trying to be on the scene of three arrivals per day.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.