The Alitas Program serves migrant women and children who have left their home countries to escape violence and poverty. We provide care, short-term shelter and help to reunite with family members in the U.S.
Alitas also provides short term transitional housing to unaccompanied minors who are turning 18 and aging out of youth shelters.
Most migrants arriving in our community are mothers, children, and pregnant women from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. Most have travelled from their homes, through Mexico, to reach Arizona, a journey of several days to weeks.
In Arizona, the Border Patrol turns them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE provides them with documentation and orders to report to an immigration hearing.
Then ICE drops them off at our Hospitality Center. Volunteers greet the travelers and help them contact family members in the U.S. They may also help them to get a confirmation number for a bus ticket, which family members have purchased.
We provide a safe place to rest, rehydrate, eat, and care for their children. We also provide a change of clothes, hygiene items, and a chance to wash up.
Women and children receive travel bags before they leave. Bags may include food, water, toiletries, hygiene items, diapers and baby food, if necessary. We also provide blankets and small toys for the children for the bus ride. Bus rides typically last 2 to 3 days.
Travelers who are unable to leave immediately spend the night at Casa Alitas, a small home in Tucson staffed by volunteers and Catholic Community Services.
In addition, we provide a short-term transitional home for youth who have crossed the border as unaccompanied minors and are aging out of youth shelters. By coming to stay at Alitas, they are avoiding being sent to adult detention facilities. At Alitas, they are provided with all of their basic needs, and volunteers engage the youth in educational and fun activities.