Haitian priest, local churches come together to assist and shelter migrants arriving in El Paso


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As hundreds of migrants continue arriving in El Paso for processing, local churches in the Borderland are opening their doors to receive them.

Mark Chatterton, a volunteer with the El Paso Baptist Association, said with the help of volunteers and donations, they’ve been able to receive migrants at a local church.

“We’ve had donations to make this a living environment it wasn’t always easy but definitely worth carrying that cross,” Chatterton said.

On Monday, the Annunciation House told reporters it received about 1,200 migrants who were living at the camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Executive Director Ruben Garcia said about 798 were from Haiti.

Chatterton said on Tuesday they had initially received about 50 migrants at their church but about 20 remained there by the afternoon. However, he said it’s hard to determine how many may come on a given day.

“We had upwards of 100 at a time so it just depends what gets brought to us, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we show Christlike love,” Chatterton said.

He said they test all migrants for COVID-19 and those who test positive go to a hotel for quarantine. Those at the church are provided with food, clothing, showers, and other items they may need before heading off to travel to their sponsors across the U.S. typically staying 24-48 hours at the church.

“We recognized there was a need given what was happening on the border so the El Paso Baptist Association gathered churches and decided on a facility this one suits us best has the size and capability for the load of volunteers,” Chatterton said.

Father Wilbert Colas, a local priest with the El Paso Catholic Diocese, is originally from Haiti. He said he has been speaking and meeting with migrants to see how he can help.

“It’s very important for me to do my best and see what I can do,” Colas said. “Now I’m in El Paso I feel like it’s a blessing, the fact that I’m here to see the way I can support them because many of them arrive here, they are sick, they need things.”

He said migrants tell him they are grateful to be in El Paso and appreciate the treatment they’ve received in the Borderland.

“Sometimes not all people leaving or fleeing the country are bad people, there’s always a reason to leave the country,” Colas said.

He said his home country has been experiencing dangerous issues such as gang violence which is what he said many families are fleeing from.

“It hurts me a lot because I could have my sisters, brothers, in the same situation or maybe myself if I was in Haiti right now maybe I’d be doing the same thing as them,” Colas said. “Whenever you see someone, not only immigrants from Haiti but from all over the world, receive them because we all belong to the same God.”

For anyone looking to assist with donations, the groups encourage the public to contact the El Paso Baptist Association or the Catholic Diocese of El Paso.

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.