When migrants arrived in droves, this poor New Mexico city opened its arms

Over the last several weeks, U.S. authorities, unable to house a surge of asylum-seekers at the border, have dropped off thousands of immigrants in this city, one of the poorest municipalities in one of the nation’s poorest states.

The migrants, mostly Central American families, have arrived by the busloads to find a shelter that has become the focal point of tiny Deming.

The deluge of migrants prompted the international humanitarian group Save the Children to come to Deming and set up a “child-friendly space” at the city’s migrant shelter. It’s the only emergency humanitarian operation Save the Children has ever set up in the U.S. that wasn’t in response to a natural disaster.

The group is also working with local law enforcement to spot and support children who’ve been trafficked or are facing trauma, leveraging their years of experience providing assistance in disaster situations.

“They’ve been away from their home. They’ve been in detention. They don’t know where they’re going,” said Jennifer Garner, the actress and Save the Children board member who was touring the shelter on the day NBC News visited.

“They don’t speak English. They’ve been ill. They’ve gone without baths, without food, without medical care, but they’re here, happy to hear me butcher ‘Goodnight Moon’ because they’re children.”

The support Save the Children provides is multipronged, but entirely funded by private donation.

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