EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A “significant” number of refugees from Del Rio have been brought to El Paso for processing since Thursday, according to Ruben Garcia, the executive director of the local refugee center, Annunciation House.
Garcia says 1,203 migrants arrived from Del Rio, where nearly 15,000 Haitian migrants were camped out under an international crossing.
The group comes from various countries, he added. Almost 800 migrants were from Haiti, 144 from Chile, 43 from Brazil, 26 from Cuba, 23 from Venezuela and 179 from others, including one from France.
Garcia said the profile of the migrants they’re seeing continues to be that of family units with young children rather than single individuals, however, he did say some single refugees have also been seen.
The refugees typically stay in El Paso for 24-48 hours, Garcia said, before they leave to meet their sponsors, which are other family members, across the United States.
Garcia said refugees coming are staying at sites overseen by Annunciation House along with a few churches in Las Cruces and El Paso. However, he said while they have the capacity to accept 600-700 migrants in a single day, what makes it challenging is the lack of advance notice.
“I got a call this morning telling me they would release 325 individuals, I didn’t know that last night,” Garcia said.
He added the Salvation Army was providing meals for the refugees along with assistance from other groups including the City of El Paso and the Office of Emergency Management.
“We have the help of Project Amistad that does a lot of its transportation through its shuttles helping take groups of people to the airport, to the bus station, we requested and received services from Sun Metro to pick up and take groups of families over to El Paso International Airport,” Garcia said.
The Office of Emergency Management has been testing individuals for COVID-19. Garcia said all those over the age of two are tested before entering refugee sites. The City said so far 59 individuals have tested positive and are quarantined for 10 days at a hotel maintained by the office of emergency management.
Three men housed at the Annunciation House who identified themselves as fathers spoke with media on Monday at their experience in Del Rio.
One man said it’s been a difficult journey, traveling through the jungle and then not having a place to sleep other than the floor once in Del Rio. He said he was traveling with his family and was grateful to be in the United States at the Annunciation House.
“It’s worth it because we are in the United States, one of the largest countries in the world where one can look for a better life for our kids, so it’s worth it,” a man identified as Jimmy, said in Spanish.
Garcia said they are offering the COVID-19 vaccine for those who would like to receive it, however, he said many decide not to because they don’t want to experience side effects as they travel to their sponsors across the United States.