“At least 25 percent of the families include pregnant women,” Mr. Villarreal said. “Some of them have been traveling for weeks from South America in extremely challenging conditions.”
Families are tested for Covid-19 upon arriving at the Houston shelter and are then given food, water and a change of underwear, in addition to access to showers and beds.
“Some of our families have been traveling for weeks, not bathing, not eating properly, without access to feminine hygiene products,” Mr. Villarreal said.
From Houston, many of the families, who typically stay less than 24 hours at Mr. Villarreal’s shelter, then travel to places around the United States where their relatives are living. The relatives are expected to pay for the airfare, but volunteers have mobilized to do so if that isn’t possible.
Mr. Isaac, his young son in his arms, left Haiti in 2017, fleeing what he said was a never-ending cycle of violence, poverty and natural disasters. In Chile, he met his wife, and they had a son, Hans, who was burned in an accident and requires medical attention. There, he worked in construction, hotels and restaurants, and he said he planned to look for similar jobs in New York.
He and his wife had not planned it this way, but Hans celebrated his second birthday on Wednesday — in an American airport that was their near the end of what had been a very long journey.
“I felt bad, because we all came here for the same reasons,” he said of the many Haitian migrants he met in Del Rio. “I knew not everyone was going to make it through. We were lucky.”
James Dobbins contributed reporting from Del Rio, and Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.