As newly-arrived asylum seekers struggled to contact relatives and friends via cell phones Tuesday, volunteer groups and individuals at the Del Rio, Texas border town tried to keep up with the high demand for help.
Volunteers with Val Verde Humanitarian Border Coalition were helping some people contact family members and coordinate bus transportation out of town. After arriving in Del Rio over the weekend, Guerline Jozef of the Haitian Bridge Alliance helped families board the busses and stepped in to purchase plane tickets for migrants in a bind.
“Most of them didn’t have money to buy tickets, so I didn’t want them to stay here,” Jozef said Tuesday morning.
Carole Berotte Joseph, who lives in Houston part-time, is volunteering with Houston Haitians United (HHU) to raise funds, cook food for the migrants and translate for them at a local shelter housing asylum seekers. Run by National Association of Christian Churches, the shelter is transporting asylum seekers from Del Rio and providing temporary housing until they can leave town.
“At least people can get some respite when they get here,” said Joseph, a retired past president of CUNY’s Bronx Community College. “Some families are saying they really don’t have the money to fly two or three people.”
Financial donations are one of the best ways the diaspora can help groups serving asylum seekers, Joseph said. “It doesn’t seem like they need more hands on deck,” she said.
In the Stripes parking lot, volunteers like Pastor Greg Yeum have alleviated the uncertainty of migrants’ material needs. Although he is affiliated with Grace Mexico Mission, Yeum said he does his work independently and comes twice per day to pass out provisions like water, and baby food for newborns. Like other volunteers, he faces limited resources.
“We don’t have enough funds,” said Yeum, a Korea-born resident of Del Rio. “I hope the Biden administration sends some fiscal support, not just talk about immigration policy.”
To reach Houston Haitians United, call 832-945-1448 or email email@example.com. Paypal donations are being accepted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach the Haitian Bridge Alliance, call 949-295-1253 or email email@example.com. Donations to HBA can be made via Paypal.
The Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition can be reached online. Donations to the group can be made here.