Undocumented immigrants face challenges, fear getting resources - WNEM TV 5

Undocumented immigrants face challenges, fear getting resources in water crisis

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

A group of people has been hit especially hard by a city’s water crisis, but the city’s mayor said it doesn’t have to be that way.

"It's been tough because a lot of them are under low income. And some of them just don't have the funds to buy the water," said Juani Olivares.

Olivares said there are about 3,000 undocumented immigrants in Flint. And many of them are having problems getting help during the water crisis because of the language barrier.

Many of them don’t speak English and, out of fear, they have stayed away from the water distribution center designed to help them.

"They see someone in an uniform and think 'Hey if I go back and they know I don't have an ID they're going to hold me there and deport me,'" Olivares said.

Mayor Karen Weaver said the situation is disappointing, but she said no identification is required to get bottled water and filters.

"People should not have to show any ID whether they're coming to a water distribution site or if someone is coming to their home. They are not required to show ID," Weaver said.

Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser agrees.

"We also remind people that they don't need a valid ID, or a valid driver's license, or a valid address to get this drinking water," Kaiser said.

Kaiser said he is aware of the problem undocumented immigrants face, and is looking for ways to solve it.

"We have heard there have been some issues. We're actually reaching out to the local advocacy groups to get the people that are maybe under-served to get them the help and resources that they need," Kaiser said.

Olivares said she is doing her best to make sure no matter where people are from, or what language they speak, everyone gets water.

"We're going through a crisis and that needs to be taken care of," Olivares said. "We need to make sure that everyone has water. Especially the ones that have kids. Because those are the ones that are being affected, the kids."


Un grupo de gente que ha sufrido mucho por la crisis de agua en la ciudad de Flint. Pero que la alcaldesa de la ciudad dijo que ésa no tiene que ocurrir.

“Ha sido difícil porque muchos de ellos están debajo ingresos. Y algunos no tienen el dinero para comprar el agua,” dijo Juani Olivares.

Olivares dijo que hay 3,000 inmigrantes indocumentados en la ciudad de Flint. Y muchos tienen problemas con ayuda durante la crisis de agua a causa de la barrera idiomática.

Muchos no hablan inglés, y por temor, se han alejado de los centros de distribución del agua que se diseñó para ayudarlos.

 “Ellos ven alguna persona en un uniforme y piensas que si yo vuelvo y ellos saben que no tengo identificación, van a detenerme y deportarme,” Olivares dijo.

A alcaldesa Karen Weaver dijo que la situación es decepcionante, pero ella dijo que la identificación no es necesaria para recibir el agua y los filtros.

“Gente no debe tener que mostrar ninguna identificación si se llegan a un lugar de distribución del agua ni si alguien se llega a su casa. Nadie necesita mostrar la identificación,” dijo Weaver.

El oficial de policía del estado de Michigan David Kaiser está de acuerdo.

“Nosotros les recordamos que no necesitan una identificación legítima, ni un permiso de conducir legítimo, ni dirección legítima para que reciba esta agua potable”, dijo Kaiser.

Olivares dijo que ella se hace lo mejor que se pueda para que se asegura de todos reciben el agua, independiente de dónde eres, ni que lengua hables.

“Vamos a través de una crisis y tiene que encargarse de la crisis,” dijo Olivares. “Tenemos que asegurarnos de todos tienen el agua. Especialmente las familias que tienen niños. Ellos son los que están afectados, los niños.”

Special thanks to CJ Stone for his translation of the story into Spanish.

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