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‘We felt a real burden to help’: Border advocates seeking donations for new shelters to house asylum-seekers

Thousands of migrants are staying in Mexico camps near the border, where they risk the threat of kidnappings or worse.

REYNOSA DÍAZ, Tamaulipas — By some estimates, 2,000 to 3,000 migrants are living in tents this week in Reynosa, on the opposite side of the border from Hidalgo County. 

Advocates have said people at the camp come from all over the world. Some have tried to cross into the U.S. and were removed via Title 42, a CDC rule that allows Border Patrol to expel people because of the ongoing pandemic and the health emergency associated with it.

“I don't think most Americans understand that these people don't have homes to go back to,” said Felicia Rangel-Samponaro, a co-director of The Sidewalk School for Asylum Seekers, a Brownsville-based nonprofit that’s been on the ground in Reynosa since the camp started forming last spring.

“Their hope, of course, is one day they'll make it into the U.S.,” she said.

Multiple reports by human rights groups have documented abuses migrants suffer while living in camps such as the one in Reynosa. People are often victims of kidnappings, assault and murder.

And while The Sidewalk School’s purpose is evident in its name, Rangel-Samponaro told KENS 5 her organization puts a lot of work into feeding people, employing migrants at her school, helping find and fund medical care, and placing people in apartments away from the dangers of the camp.

 Now, Rangel-Samponaro is helping build a shelter.

“If we didn't, then the asylum seekers will continue to be assaulted and kidnapped,” she said. “There are no other options.”

The Sidewalk School is partnering with the pastor Joshua Muse, director of Kaleo International. The shelter is being built on Kaleo International's land.

“There's certain people that the Bible really calls us as believers, as Christians to help and that's the widows, the orphans,” Muse said. “We felt a real burden to help any way we can.”

Muse told KENS 5 the work has already begun. Looking at pictures, there is not much on the rural property yet, but in approximately two months, Muse and Rangel-Samponaro hope to be able to house up to 400 people. They’ll mostly consist of women and children, as well as migrants from Haiti.

“There'll be a church, we're going to have vocational programs,” Muse said. “We're going to teach things to keep them occupied.”

The Sidewalk School is also working with the City of Reynosa on a second facility, building another shelter on what used to be a baseball field. Both facilities will have fences for safety.

Rangel-Samponaro told KENS 5 $85,000 is needed for construction, much of which depends on donations. A lot of the construction depends on donations. If you’d like to participate, click here


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