Volunteers help bused suspected undocumented immigrants

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX-- Hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants have been bused into Phoenix from Texas this week.

Volunteers have been helping them out.

George Mendoza and his volunteers have been housing some of them until they can get to family who, for the most part, live out of state.

Maria Pineda is one of the people Mendoza and his volunteers have helped.

She said she left Honduras because she was getting threats from drug dealers who wanted to use her 10-year-old son as a drug mule.

She said it got to the point where she didn't feel safe sending him to school for fear that the drug cartel would kidnap her son, so she decided to make the trip to the United States.

She said she wasn't too far from the border in Laredo, Texas, when she and her kids were arrested. They were taken to southern Arizona where she said conditions in the detention center were horrible.

She said she and her two sons slept on the floor wrapped in tin foil.

Then after about a week they were brought to Phoenix by bus, and although she expected the worst, she said she was greeted by saviors.

"I thought my sons and I were just going to be abandoned at the bus terminal without a cent on us, but no. The volunteers were there," Pineda said. "They gave us water because they knew we were parched and then they helped us figure out what to do."

Mendoza and several volunteers have been collecting donations and housing some of the families who were dropped off at the bus stop with no money and nowhere to go.

They said they've been told there are enough donations in Nogales for now for the unaccompanied children who have been dropped off there this weekend, so they are on standby for when another wave of suspected undocumented immigrants are dropped off in Phoenix.

"I hope that soon this can be fixed and they can have a better way to be in the country and that Homeland Security can protect them a little more," Mendoza said.

They said they will make sure to greet them at the bus stop and hand out water, clothing and help them find a place to shower until they can make their way to their final destination.