Amid Expected Influx of Haitian Refugees, Those Helping Worried About Impact

More than 7,000 Haitian refugees are expected to cross Southern California borders in the coming months

More than 7,000 Haitian refugees are expected to cross Southern California borders and seek refuge in San Diego in the coming months, and those providing help in San Diego are worried about being able to support the refugees. 

Immigrant groups and faith organizations from Mexico and across Southern California are coming together to help the thousands of Haitian refugees fleeing the devastated island nation. 

In the last 10 months, at least 3,508 Haitians have crossed through ports of entry located in San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate, Calexico East and West and Andrade, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Many of those refugees have ended up in Tijuana, where in recent days, hundreds have gathered at shelters waiting to cross through San Ysidro.

Mexico allows a 30 day grace period to stay in the country, but it’s gotten so crowded that local officials have resorted to passing out numbers for the right to get into another line.

Five shelters in Tijuana are helping house the refugees until they cross the border; they say 90 percent of the refugees are coming from Brazil. 

Temporary shelters have been created at two National Guard Armories in San Diego, but those will only be available for the next 10 days.

Christ United Methodist Church will still be housing refugees, but say the demand is just too much for them to handle on their own.

"In the last 100 days, we've had 3,000 Haitians come through the door, averaging about 200 a night, sleeping in the church where we try to provide services for them, the basic services such as food, clothing, shelter," said Reverend Bill Jenkins. "We have one shower in the Church that's been running 24 hours a day."

For these refugees, housing is another road block as they try to create some stability.

Stheker Regisma and his family left Haiti back in 2010 after the earthquake that left millions homeless. They went to Brazil for five years.

Regisma couldn't find steady work in construction, so they kept on moving, walking through the mountains for four months, heading north, needing to find some stability. During some of their trip, they were foodless and homeless.

Like many others, refugees eventually meet with CBP officials to explain their reasons for seeking asylum.

If they make it into the U.S., they are then monitored by ICE officials. Some of the refugees will be monitored via GPS and ankle bracelets.

Regisma and his family have been in San Diego since the beginning of the month, living at the church with their two young daughters.

Regisma is one of thousands coming to San Diego on humanitarian parole.

Some, however don't think San Diego should be taking in this many refugees.

Roger Ogden is part of a group hoping to put restrictions on how many refugees can stay in certain areas like imperial beach. he's addressing his concerns to the city council this evening, hoping for some regulations.

"We could send money there, or we could create some opportunities for them there," he said. "Having every poor person in the world come to the U.S. is not going to work."

The church is always asking for donations. To donate, click here. All of the donations go directly to the Haitian Ministry.

Officials are also looking for anyone who could possibly supply a 15,000 square foot facility to help house these refugees.

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