AZ immigrants fleeing violence, seek asylum - KPTV - FOX 12

AZ immigrants fleeing violence, seek asylum

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Daisy Castillo said she took a risk leaving her native country of Honduras just to reunite with her brother - and the son she hasn't seen in 10 years. (Source: CBS 5 News) Daisy Castillo said she took a risk leaving her native country of Honduras just to reunite with her brother - and the son she hasn't seen in 10 years. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Daisy Castillo said she is taking a risk leaving her native country of Honduras, but it's worth it, she said, just to reunite with her brother.

"She's very blessed, very glad to be here," Castillo said through an interpreter.

But arriving in Phoenix Friday morning also allowed her to see the son she hasn't laid eyes on in 10 years.

"She missed him a lot," Daisy added through the translator.

Like most of the immigrants dropped off in Phoenix this week, Castillo was first detained in Texas and rode a Greyhound bus to Phoenix to live with her brother.

"It's hardship over there so that's why they're coming over here," Castillo said. "[She was}...looking for more opportunities, more safe environment, a life for her family."

Good Samaritans, both average people doing above average things and the Phoenix Restoration Project, immediately clung to immigrants as soon as they arrived. By the time they made it to the U.S., one of those volunteers, Esperanza Felva, said most of the children and adults were sick.

"Primarily from the immigration holding tanks," Felva said. "They were in a room that was about 50, 40 degrees, all together, hundreds of people just sardined in. And of course, when one gets sick, they all get sick."

The immigrants could have just been left at the bus station ill with absolutely no idea where to go next. But instead they were closely cared for by people like Felva until they continued on to their final destination.

"I'm not a doctor. I'm not a nurse," Felva said. "But I do have first aid. I can basically just look at symptoms and give them medicine."

Without warning from the government, Felva says the volunteers stepped in as ambassadors.

"We would contact their family members throughout the U.S., New York, Louisiana, and make sure that they got their tickets and confirmations," she said. "We rented a hotel room, make sure they take showers. We would check them in. We would check them out."

In the past week, the Valley has been inundated with immigrants fleeing rising violence in Central America and hoping for asylum in the U.S.

"They're treated as an arriving alien and detained until a credible fear interview can be performed," explained immigration attorney Benjamin Wiesinger. He has an idea about why so many immigrants were seemingly "dumped" outside the Phoenix bus station.

"The immigrants overwhelmed the asylum system," he said. "There are not enough asylum officers to perform those credible fear interviews so they're paroling them before the credible fear process."

Wiesinger says even if an immigrant is lucky enough to pass that step, it doesn't mean they're done. They then get an asylum hearing before a judge. But asylum courts are backed up and getting that hearing can take years.

"We have made asylum very difficult to obtain in this country," Wiesinger said. "Furthermore, when people have to be detained while they're going through this process, it's even more difficult to obtain it."

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) All rights reserved.

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