Volunteers Help Recently Arrived Migrants Endure First Winter

Danna Matheus, MA Latino News

MA Latino News produces and amplifies stories focused on the responses to the social determinants of health. Social and Community Context is the connection between characteristics of the contexts within which people live, learn, work, and play, and their health and well-being. This includes topics like cohesion within a community, civic participation, discrimination, conditions in the workplace, and incarceration.

Over the last month, thousands of migrants have crossed into the U.S. at the Texas border ahead of the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic policy that allows the U.S. to expel migrants in order to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Cities and states led by Democrats are expecting an influx of migrants — and they’re worried they won’t be able to handle the surge.

“We have been navigating this all year,” said Denise Rincon, president of the Venezuelan Association of Massachusetts. “People are arriving without any resources. So we have had to deal with this the best we can. With our own money, our own resources. We’ve tried to do magic.“

Video by Danna Matheus

Volunteers like Arianny Ramirez welcome children and family members, many of whom like herself, are Venezuelan, bussed to D.C. from the southern U.S. border since April.

“Even though we’re far away from our country, Venezuela, we feel at home,” said Ramirez. “With that warmth, that love, the gaitas, the pan de jamón, the hallacas, and everything together. It’s very beautiful.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis infuriated Democrats and immigration advocates when he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly about 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.

That happened in September. Now, only five out of those 49 remain on Martha’s Vineyard, and others have started new lives in different towns throughout Massachusetts — some in government housing and shelters and others in private homes. Nearly all of them have moved to other cities across the U.S.

The migrant issue hasn’t gone unnoticed in Congress. Special funding in the federal spending bill released this week could take the pressure off of cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, as they try to handle the rise in immigrants and the challenges to provide shelter, food and other basic needs.

Danna Matheus, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, is a first-generation immigrant; currently residing in the Washington DC area.

She is a Communications graduate from Frederick Community College and a Journalism student at the University of Maryland. Danna has experience as a news reporter for “The Commuter,” a student-run newspaper, and as a producer for “Discovering your Future,” a podcast that helps students to find their passion.

Publisher’s Notes: Danna is an Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) fellow in the 2022 class, Journalism Camp: covering race, ethnicity, and culture.

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Please consider making a donation to HZF: Support Journalism.