SIERRA VISTA - A resource center in Naco, Mexico that helps illegal immigrants who are deported from Arizona has now opened a shelter where migrants can rest for the night.
The Migrant Resource Center opened a year ago to offer food, drinks, clothing and advice to migrants freshly dropped off at the border by the U.S. immigration agents.
The new building that opened in early December was needed because deportees are often dropped off late at night and need to quickly find a place to stay, said Cecile Lumer, director of the Migrant Resource Center. Others arrive during the day and don't have a place to sleep.
Returned migrants are often confronted by immigrant smugglers who won't let them go to a hotel if they decide not to try to re-enter the U.S., Lumer said. Others are simply afraid of the smugglers or can't afford a room.
There are currently seven beds in the new facility, but mattresses for seven more people are available and the site is expected to be expanded to house 25 or more.
About 8,000 deported illegal immigrants have sought help at the resource center since it opened on Jan. 5, 2008. Volunteers provide services such as food, water and clothing and help migrants find medical care or arrange a bus ride back home.
The new shelter is about a half of a block from the resource center and has two bathrooms and a hot shower. A family lives there to welcome guests and keep away smugglers, Lumer said.
The center is a bi-national effort of Citizens for Border Solutions in Bisbee, Ariz. and Iglesia del Camino in Naco.