When Santa Claus arrived at a migrant shelter in El Paso, Texas, to bring presents to the children, one migrant only asked for a photo with him.
The photo that Geovanny Caripaz, 39, took was quickly sent via WhatsApp to her 7-year-old son in Venezuela.
“I told him Santa is in the United States, so his gift might be delayed to get 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 dad he liked the photo and asked if it was really Santa Claus who was with him.
Caripaz, broken down, told CNN the bike would come after he found work in the United States.
“I told him it would happen on Three Kings Day or sometime in January,” he said.
Caripaz plans to travel to Dallas, where he has family and friends. But for now, he is sleeping on the streets near the Sacred Heart Church migrant shelter, which is currently overcrowded.
El Paso temperatures have turned freezing due to the winter storm that has swept across the United States, 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 for thousands of migrants living in unsafe conditions as a Trump-era border policy barring migrants from entering the United States remains in flux amid legal proceedings.
Many migrants arriving in El Paso aren’t looking to stay, city officials say, but the local infrastructure is struggling to support the crowds streaming in and out.
The Sacred Heart Church shelter said it was prioritizing women and children during the cold front and was open to all migrants regardless of their immigration status. Hundreds of people continue to wait outside the church.
Many migrants told CNN that sleeping in 20 degrees was very difficult, but it’s being away from family that’s particularly difficult at Christmas.
“I do it for my kids,” Caripaz said. “I came to work, I have faith…[My son] wants his bike and I told him that Santa couldn’t bring it yet, but he will bring it in January.