Undocumented Flint residents fear receiving water

Members of Cristo Rey Church in Lansing unload supplies in an effort to help undocumented families in Flint. (Jan. 25, 2016/Courtesy WLNS)

FLINT, Mich. (WLNS) — Members of Cristo Rey Church in Lansing loaded up and hit the road with the goal of reaching a population that still is in need of help.

The church is working to reach undocumented immigrants and spread the word that help is available for everyone who needs it.

“Come on, it’s time to go,” Lupe Castillo said, as she packs the trunk of a truck with baby wipes.

This is all in an effort to help undocumented families in Flint.

“I understand they are asking for documentation. Well those that are (undocumented) have a fear of, oh what, immigration is going to come tomorrow and pick me up and deport me? And that should not happen,” said John Castillo, of Cristo Rey Church.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Flint is the destination for Cristo Rey’s supplies.

Volunteers there have been handing out water, filters and test kits to all families in need, but say there are at least a thousand undocumented residents in Flint, and some are afraid to take any hand-outs.

“They hear the knock on the door or see the police or somebody of authority and they’re afraid to open the door. They’re not even going to open the door. You know, I put myself in their shoes, and I think how I would react. I think I’d be the same way,” said Our Lady of Guadalupe Church member Mary Mosqueda.

Victoria Arteaga, an immigration attorney in Flint, agrees. Arteaga recalls a story a woman told her. The woman was visiting friends who were undocumented, and police officers came to their door to drop off water.

“(The woman) said, they knocked on the door and they said ‘Police, water!’ Well they didn’t hear ‘water,’ all they heard was ‘police’ and everyone went in the kitchen and everyone was arguing and not going to the door,” Arteaga shared. “(The woman) said, ‘Look, I’m just visiting, I’m going to the door.’ She went to the door, gave them her name, they gave her a filter, and off they went.”

According to Arteaga, even though state officials have announced that ID’s are not required and everyone is entitled to resources, that hasn’t always proven to be the case.

“While the policy is that anyone can get a filter, it is not happening in practice,” Arteaga said. “I have been to an office where I’ve said I need water. They said, I need a state ID — a valid state ID — and proof that you are a resident of the city of Flint before I can give you a filter.”

According to Red Cross officials, that’s not the norm and they want all residents in Flint to know, if someone knocks on your door, they are only there to help.

“Red Cross is here to serve everyone — documented, undocumented,” said Red Cross volunteer Yanna Saunders.

According to the Red Cross, the city of Flint is working to get every home a water filter regardless of immigration status, and they’re hoping everyone will open their door and accept the help.

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