As Flint, Michigan’s water supply remains contaminated with high levels of lead, an estimated 1,000 undocumented immigrants were either denied water due to ID requirements or didn’t ask for help for fear of being deported. Even after the city said it stopped requiring driver’s licenses for free clean water distribution – something undocumented immigrants cannot get in the state of Michigan – on January 22, many undocumented immigrants were still uncomfortable with drawing attention to themselves.
It’s especially troubling when you take data released by The Flint Water Study Team at Virginia Tech into consideration. The average blood lead levels across Flint is 10.656, according to Latino Rebels. For zip code 47506 – a Latino neighborhood – the average level is 12.173. (Anything above 5 is cause for concern.)
Flint’s Latino immigrant population was the last to find out about the toxic water. And thought his crisis has been in the news for more than a year, it has only recently begun to get attention in English-language media. Latino Rebels writer Christina Saenz-Alcántara did some calling around to Flint’s fire stations, libraries, and hotlines, and she was told the city was too poor to afford translators. So the children of immigrants – kids in elementary school in some cases – are left to navigate a complicated system essentially on their own.
Many undocumented immigrants probably don’t know where to turn, but they do have St. Mary’s Church and Deacon Paul Donnelly – who is fluent in Spanish – on their side, Vice reports. And now Donnelly and St. Mary’s Church are also making it possible for others to step in and help this community. According to a Facebook post by Xicanisma, they are accepting bottled water from anyone who is able to drop it off to them at 2500 N. Franklin St.
The church does not currently have a way to accept money online, but in a follow-up post, Xicanisma said St. Mary’s is working to change that. The church does accept checks and said they would use the money to buy filters and more water.