WASHINGTON — Migrant families who bused to the nation's capital from Arizona and Texas spent an underwhelming first Thanksgiving in the United States.
The asylum seekers housed in a Northeast D.C. hotel told WUSA9 there was no special dinner or celebration on Thursday but nonetheless they were thankful.
"I also thought that because today is Thanksgiving we were going to get something special, but glory be to God," said Yusvely, a migrant from Venezuela who arrived to D.C. in October with her husband and three of her sons. "The important part is that we are alive, and for that we are thankful."
An estimated 11,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela or Colombia, have been dropped off in the District after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott started the program in April.
For the first couple of months, the buses were arriving at Union Station, but later people were dropped outside of the National Observatory, the site of Vice President Kamala Harris's official residence.
We met up with Yusvely outside one of the hotels. She says a recent policy change prohibits the asylum seekers from bringing guests inside their rooms.
"They are looking out for us. If someone gets sick, they take them to see a doctor. I am thankful to this country's government and here in Washington, D.C. they have treated us well," said Yusvely.
Most of the migrants that arrived to D.C. moved to other areas, but an estimated 700 stayed in the DMV region according to advocate groups.
Yusvely says so far their life is far from the "American Dream" that she expected. Without her pending work permit, she and her husband have been picking up odd jobs to earn some cash to supply the basics for their family.
"What I can potentially earn in a week here, it would take me a year in Venezuela to earn 700 to 800 dollars," says Yusvely who has been unable to send money to her family in her native country.
She admits that sometimes she grows impatient, but she reminds herself of one thing, "Not everyone makes it here you know? We got here after passing eight countries. Not everyone can do that, many died, and I know that because I saw it with my own eyes. But God brought me here because with a purpose to be someone in life and to help my family."
For now, there is no word on when this family will leave the Northeast D.C. hotel.