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NFL Players Cheer For McAllen Volunteers Who Help Migrants Rebuild Their Lives

The football stars passed out backpacks, supplies and toys in front of Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen.
Reynaldo Leanos Jr. | Texas Public Radio
The football stars passed out backpacks, supplies and toys in front of Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen.

Two NFL players made a stop in the Rio Grande Valley this week to learn first-hand what is going on at the border and to provide some help to migrant families in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints and Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins visited the Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen.

The facility assists migrants when they're released from custody. The migrants can enjoy a shower, eat a meal and gather some supplies before they head to their final destination, where they’ll await their day in immigration court.

Volunteers do much of this work, and Norman and Davis met some of them on Thursday.

"We put together these snack bags and put some sandwiches in there," one volunteer told the NFL players, "so the families have something to eat on their trips.”

“It’s really honorable what you guys are doing, man,” Davis said.

Norman was deeply affected by what he saw. “It’s depressing, it’s depressing. It really got me in a funk right now. It’s so depressing.”

Davis said he and Norman weren't looking at the situation from a political standpoint, rather from what he called a right-versus-wrong standpoint.

“We just put ourselves in the people’s shoes," he said. "But we haven’t just been here. We also went to Flint [Michigan], and a lot of the same oppression that’s happening here is happening in Flint. It’s sad, but that’s what’s happening to people who don’t have wealth and don’t have power to speak out for themselves. Their voices get silenced.”

Communities in the Michigan town are dealing with a water crisis.

Norman hopes more people visit the border region in Texas and see for themselves what’s really going on.

“I’m going to try and do everything in my power to see if I can change something," he said. "This is just inhumane. It’s not right. I wish politicians, or whomever the case may be, would just walk two steps within this place, and they’ll see for themselves.”

Davis and Norman also stopped by the National Butterfly Center and the McAllen bus terminal. They crossed into Mexico to assist migrant families waiting to come into the U.S. to claim asylum.

This wasn't the first time they visited with Central American migrants. Last summer Norman and Davis traveled to San Antonio and distributed backpacks, toys and other items to migrant children who were separated from their families.

     View this post on Instagram          3am!!! San Antonio, Tx!!! Truck maxed down w/ book bags for the kids separated from parents at the border!!! #Humanity A post shared by Demario Davis #56 (@d56davis) on Jun 27, 2018 at 1:33am PDT

Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos

Copyright 2020 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

Reynaldo Leanos Jr. covers immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border for Texas Public Radio.