Sending a photo with Santa Claus, a migrant father waiting in El Paso tells son in Venezuela his Christmas gift may be delayed


When Santa Claus arrived at migrant shelter in El Paso, Texas, to bring presents for the children, one migrant asked for just a photo with him.

The photo Geovanny Caripaz, 39, took was quickly sent through WhatsApp to his 7-year-old son in Venezuela.

“I told him Santa is in the US, so his present may be delayed getting to Venezuela,” Caripaz said.

His son, Carlos Santiago Caripaz, desperately wanted a bike for Christmas, according to his father, who left Venezuela three months ago.

Responding in a voice memo, the child told his father he loved the picture and asked if it was really Santa who was with him.

Caripaz, breaking down, told CNN the bike will come after he finds work in the United States.

“I told him it would come on Three Kings Day or at some point in January,” he said.

Caripaz is planning on traveling to Dallas, where he has family and friends. But for now, he has been sleeping on the streets near the Sacred Heart Church migrant shelter, which is currently over capacity.

El Paso’s temperatures have turned frigid due to the winter storm sweeping across the US, and amid a recent surge in migrant arrivals, many like Caripaz have struggled to find shelter.

The city declared a state of emergency last weekend over thousands of migrants living in unsafe conditions, as a Trump-era border policy keeping migrants out of the United States remains in flux amid court proceedings.

Many of the migrants who are coming into El Paso are not looking to stay, according to city officials, but the local infrastructure is struggling to support the crowds pouring in and trickling out.

The Sacred Heart Church shelter said it is prioritizing women and children during the cold front, and has been open to all migrants, regardless of their immigration status. Hundreds of people continue to wait outside the church.

Many migrants told CNN sleeping in 20-degree temperature has been very difficult, but it’s being away from their families that is especially hard on Christmas.

“I do it for my children,” said Caripaz. “I came to work, I have faith…[My son] wants his bike and I told him Santa can’t bring it yet, but he will bring it in January.”

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