TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The number of refugees passing through Casa Alitas and Catholic Community Services has more than tripled since last October.
At that time, it would see as many as 30 refugees on a busy day. Now, the service may have 120 a day dropped off by ICE and Border Patrol.
A majority are from Central America “about 70 to 80 percent are from Guatamala,” said Teresa Cadvendish, Director of Operations at Catholic Community Services.
Most are fleeing violence, extortion and threats to their children, even from the police who are supposed to protect them.
“We’ve had folks come to us who make what would be considered a good income in their country,” Cavendish said. “But they can no longer make enough money to pay the extortion to keep themselves and their children safe.”
They believe they have no choice but to flee the country.
"They know what will happen if they stay," she said. "There is a possibility that they will be okay if they come here and as a parent, that's enough of a chance."
There are 100 volunteers who come to the Benedictine Monastery every day to take care of the heavy load.
"These folks who want nothing more from the people their helping, who want nothing from the other volunteers but just fulfilling what they think is the right thing to do," she said. "They are the ones who are the strength of this."
Without the volunteers, the organization would likely fail for lack of money.
They rely exclusively on donations, financial and otherwise. Basic staples are always welcome.
One woman, who was unloading food from her car, said, “I’m from Kansas and I have people who are sending me checks from Kansas to shop for them and bring food here and whatever they need.”
It’s a miracle things work because there is so much that’s in doubt day to day, such as the number of asylum seekers who will be arriving and the number who will be leaving.
At one point the monastery held 380 people, which strained the capacity. Right now there are about 250 in the monastery, with about 120 arriving every day and another 120 or so leaving for places all across the country.
“Every time I think we’ve reached a point that we can’t overcome, I tell people we’re looking for miracle today,” Cadvendish said. “And something happens that we make it and so every day is another day to look for that miracle.”
The Ward 6 and the Ward 1 Tucson city council offices are also collecting donations which are then dropped off at the monastery.
The Ward 6 office is at 3202 E. First Street, while the Ward 1 office is 940 W. Alameda Street.