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Carolers Sing To Children Held In Tent City At U.S.-Mexico Border

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

More than 150 miles south of Alamogordo, N.M., Christmas carolers and protesters gathered near a migrant shelter in Tornillo, Texas. More than 2,000 children are in custody there, living in tent-like structures. The carolers wanted to send a message.

JOSHUA RUBIN: No estan solos is you're not alone.

SHAPIRO: That's Joshua Rubin, an activist from Brooklyn. He has been living out of an RV at the Tornillo port of entry since October. This week, he gathered people to bring Christmas cheer to children inside the shelter.

RUBIN: We want the kids to know that there are people outside that care and are struggling to help them get out, help get to their families.

SHAPIRO: And it seems the music did reach the other side of the fence.

RUBIN: I heard from a Homeland Security officer that our sound was so loud that, everywhere on the campus of that port of entry, the music was being heard.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing in Spanish).

SHAPIRO: Today, Rubin took a group of activists across the border to the town of Caseta, Mexico. Locals welcomed the activists with food and more music.

RUBIN: My favorite moment, really, are the moments when local people got up, and they sang traditional Spanish songs for the season.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Singing in Spanish).

RUBIN: They sang a whole bunch of them, and I started getting to know the melody and started to get to know some of the words.

SHAPIRO: Rubin says he plans to stay at the U.S.-Mexico border until every child in the Tornillo shelter is released.

RUBIN: We're going to make sure that these vague promises that we've heard about this place closing down are actually true. And, if they're not, we're going to make a lot of noise. And we might do some more singing, too.

SHAPIRO: The government's contract with the nonprofit managing the shelter is set to expire next week. Officials with that nonprofit say they will extend the contract each day until all the children have been released to sponsors or family members. They expect that to happen around January 15.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) Feliz Navidad. Feliz Navidad. Feliz Navidad. Feliz Navidad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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