How migrants bused to DC months ago celebrated the holidays

A SAMU volunteer embracing an immigrant child on Christmas Day. (Managing Director at SAMU Tatiana Laborde)
Christmas presents being rolled in to the hotel where hundreds of immigrants are being housed. (Managing Director at SAMU Tatiana Laborde)
Presents for immigrants being gathered ahead of Christmas. (Managing Director at SAMU Tatiana Laborde)

On Christmas Eve, three buses full of immigrants were dropped off outside the Vice President’s residence in Northwest D.C., and six more busloads of people came through earlier in the week. For months hundreds of migrants who were bused in earlier this year — from Texas and Arizona — have been living in hotels, and an organization helped them celebrate the holidays.

Tatiana Laborde is the managing director of SAMU First Response, an organization that helps migrants when they arrive in the region. She said it’s their first holiday away from home for many of them.

“As a migrant, I remember the first Christmas was extremely hard as well, and for them, being able to just feel loved and welcomed while connecting to their traditions is very important,” Laborde said. That’s one reason why the organization made sure the migrants had food and gifts for the holidays.

“Our team distributed individual gifts to each and every one of the kids in hotel rooms here in the district and in Montgomery County,” she said.

They also had live music and other activities for the families to enjoy. Laborde said it was also essential to keep them connected to their traditions.

“It’s one step into keeping those traditions alive as they adapt to this new reality,” she said.

Laborde also highlighted that the migrants living in hotels are limited in what they can do to celebrate the holidays.

“They’re limited because they live in a hotel, so they can’t cook, or they can’t make their meal.”

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