MIRAMAR, FLA. (WSVN) - The Circle of Protection and other nonprofit organizations came together to give children of immigrants something to smile about this holiday season.
Christmas came early at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Miramar, Wednesday, thanks to the holiday celebration and toy drive put on by these organizations dedicated to advocate for immigrants.
“With so much hate and awful rhetoric directed towards immigrants, a few weeks ago — we’re out here every Wednesday doing the water and the snacks — somebody said, ‘You know what? Let’s really show the people who have to report here how we feel about them,'” said Bud Conlin, coordinator of the nonprofit Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees.
Families brought their children through the line to meet Santa after already waiting hours in line for their routine check with ICE agents.
Jackie was among the immigrants who was able to take her son to pick a present.
“When the lady told me, ‘Oh, Santa’s coming, and they got toys. He’s jumping, ‘Yes, yes, yes!'” she said.
Hundreds of little faces lit up as they chose their toy.
“I was excited,” said little Aiden.
“He asked for a soccer ball for Christmas. That’s what he wanted,” said his mother, Toni Cabral.
Cabral, a single mother, was overcome with emotion when she said her son had been separated from his father because of ICE.
“It’s a blessing, it really is. As a single mom, it’s hard,” she said as she fought back tears.
Organizers said they wanted to brighten the holidays of these immigrants, some of whom are facing an uncertain future.
“Today we want to, of course, shine a light on what is happening across the street, but we all want to remind the community that we are a community of love and acceptance,” said volunteer Laurie Woodward Garcia.
“They’re grateful for kindness. It could be a fantastic toy or it could be a chair,” said Conlin.
All of the toys handed out were collected thanks to generous donors. Organizers also raised $2,000 in gift cards.
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