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ONLY ON ABC-7: Congresswoman addresses volunteer burnout amidst migrant surge in Deming

After sheltering thousands of migrants applying for asylum, volunteers in the New Mexico community of Deming say they have become overwhelmed.

“This is an unprecedented time,” said U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who represents southern New Mexico. “We have to be able to adapt to constantly changing circumstances.”

For the past two weeks, the federal government has been releasing migrants in the small community. Volunteers, city employees and the New Mexico Department of Health staffers have worked day and night to provide the migrants with shelter, clothes and food.

“It’s exhausting, but rewarding: both physically and psychologically,​​” said Dr. Laurence Shandler, a pediatrician from Santa Fe.

“I just felt like I had to help,” said 12-year-old Aaron Grado from Deming.

“I just wanted to help as much as I can,” said 13-year-old Adriel Porras.

The community houses the migrants in green cots set up in two previously abandoned buildings near the southern New Mexico state fairgrounds. The building has no electricity or plumbing, but a large fan keeps the building cool as temperatures climb into the 90s.

Some residents oppose any use of taxpayer dollars to help the migrants.

“We are a very, very poor county,” said Russ Howell, the chairwoman of the Luna County Republican Party. “We have no resources. We’re just very economically depressed.”

Torres Small acknowledged the difficulties in passing legislation with a divided Congress. She told ABC-7 she introduced a bill to support Customs and Border Protection, made multiple bipartisan efforts to get money and guided members of Congress on visits to the border.

“The federal government as a whole is not doing their job,” Torres Small told ABC-7. “We’re seeing the administration not getting resources that are needed, not putting them in the right places to address this existing situation. Congress is not doing its job to address it either.”

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