Volunteers prepare “wish list” for Haitians entering US

By Alex Segura Lozano

Del Rio, Texas, Sep 20 (EFE).- Pasta, cookies, backpacks, disposable diapers and shampoo are some of the items that a refugee gets each day in Del Rio, Texas, thanks to a “wish list” on which hundreds of anonymous volunteers are collaborating to help refugees who have recently arrived in the United States.

On Monday, the immigration center received almost 50 packets in a single hour containing useful items to give to migrants, most of them Haitians, who arrived suddenly in vans belonging to US Customs and Border Protection after spending several nights under the international bridge in the Texas border city.

Without the help of so many people, Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition director Tiffany Borrow said, her organization would be unable to help the migrants, who are arriving in the US after a very tough journey.

In recent days, the volunteers with the organization have worked tirelessly to be able to take care of hundreds of migrants who have arrived after a mass border crossing between Mexico’s Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio, on the northern side of the Rio Grande.

Even so, the numbers are “similar” to those seen in August, when there was also a huge increase in border crossings by undocumented migrants, according to Pastor Shaun Young, with the City Church of Del Rio.

“The flow has been typical of what we normally receive. So that doesn’t mean we’re not going to see a spike in the next day or two,” said Young, who added that during August his church helped some 4,000 migrants who had just crossed the border.

While he was talking to EFE, the second shipment of “wish list” packets arrived, packets which these organizations have been using since late 2019 and which the pastor called a “blessing from God.”

Nearby was the father of a Haitian family, a man about 30 who looked with curiosity at the packets and asked in correct Spanish if there were any little baby bottles for his young son.

In remarks to EFE, the man, who preferred not to identify himself, said that the treatment he and other migrants had received from these organizations had been “magnificent,” adding that the shelter “has everything.”

He slept for the past few days in an improvised camp under the international bridge in Del Rio along with some 13,000 other migrants, although last night he spent in the detention center with his wife and their two children.

With the aim of trying to control the border situation, the US on Sunday started deporting dozens of Haitians apprehended in the improvised camp under the bridge and transferred others to different sites along the border, including the city of Eagle Pass, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) to the southeast.

On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at a press conference in Del Rio that the aim of the Joe Biden administration is to increase the capacity of the three daily deportation flights to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.

Regarding this situation, Pastor Young – who has been with the local church for almost 35 years – said that “I know the Border Patrol. They have a difficult job and they have a big feat in front of them. It’s definitely a big problem that they’re trying to address. They’re going to go through whatever’s in their legal means to strategize to minimize the people underneath that bridge.”

On Monday, the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition expected to receive some 100 migrants at the shelter who, after getting settled and eating, will have to buy bus tickets to get to San Antonio, the nearest large city.

From there, these mostly Haitian migrants will take other buses or flights to the cities where they have immediate family members, who will help them get established and start their new lives in the US.

EFE asl/pamp/cpy/bp

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