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First Thanksgiving for immigrant families who took the bus to DC

“The most important thing is that we are alive and we are grateful for that,” said Yusvely, an asylum seeker from Venezuela.

WASHINGTON — Migrant families who rode buses from Arizona and Texas to the nation’s capital spent a disappointing first Thanksgiving in the United States.

The asylum seekers, who are staying at a northeast DC hotel, told WUSA9 there was no special dinner or celebration on Thursday, but they were grateful nonetheless.

“I also thought we were going to get something special because today is Thanksgiving, but glory be to God,” said Yusvely, a migrant from Venezuela who arrived in DC in October with her husband and three of their sons. “The important part is that we’re alive, and we’re grateful for that.”

An estimated 11,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela or Colombia, were dropped off in the district after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott launched the program in April.

For the first few months, buses would arrive at Union Station, but later people would be dropped off in front of the National Observatory, the official residence of Vice President Kamala Harris.

We met Yusvely in front of one of the hotels. She says a recent policy change prohibits asylum seekers from bringing guests into their rooms.

“They take care of us. If someone gets sick, they take them to a doctor. I’m grateful to the government of this country, and here in Washington, DC, they treated us well,” Yusvely said.

Most migrants who arrived in DC moved to other areas, but an estimated 700 stayed in the DMV region, according to advocacy groups.

Yusvely says her life so far has been far from the “American Dream” she expected. With her work permit pending, she and her husband took odd jobs to earn some money to support the basics of their family.

“What I can potentially earn here in a week, it would take me a year to earn $700 to $800 in Venezuela,” says Yusvely, who was unable to send money to her family in her home country.

She admits she gets impatient at times, but she remembers one thing: “Not everyone makes it here, you know? We arrived here after crossing eight countries. Not everyone can do that, many have died and I know that because I saw it with my own eyes. But God brought me here because I had a goal to be someone in life and to help my family.”

At the moment there is no word on when this family will be leaving the northeast DC hotel.

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