By Audrey Payne
SILVER SPRING, Md.– Every day, a group of local volunteers wait at a Greyhound bus station to greet newly arrived refugees from the border, ready to help them begin the transition into life in the United States.
In recent months, nonprofit groups working with these refugees have noticed the declining amount of immigrants and migrants coming into Montgomery County as a result of President Trump’s immigration reform policies.
Organizations like the Immigration Alliance (TIA) and Direct Support for Immigrants (DSI) work to promote a welcoming, inclusive environment for incoming refugees by offering support regardless of immigration status.
“Our objective was to demonstrate to immigrant community members that despite Trump’s portrayal of immigrants as criminals, rapists and gang members, that the actual community of people in our area viewed them as humans,” said Lisa Seigel, current president and founding member of DSI.
In 2017, Direct Support for Immigrants formed under Takoma Park Mobilization to provide aid to immigrants coming to the Silver Spring area with everything from legal consultation to food and clothes.
The Immigration Alliance, another facet of Takoma Park Mobilization, meets Greyhound buses coming from the border, providing new arrivals with connections and resources as well as food and hygiene bags.
Though these groups provide much needed help to families in the area, the decreasing amount of immigrants coming into the area adversely affects their functionality and effectiveness, causing an excess of donations and volunteers.
“People have stopped coming on the buses because of administration policy to stop them from coming over the border…I can’t remember the last time we met somebody at the bus station,” said Roxanne Weiss of TIA’s branch in Silver Spring, who noticed the decline in refugee arrivals.
TIA has since been struggling to find new immigrant families to help, collaborating with DSI to access a wider range of adjusting refugees and continuing to support immigrants in need.