San Diego is home to thousands of Haitian refugees. In the last fiscal year, more than two-thirds of refugees resettled in San Diego County came from Haiti. Now, several local Haitian pastors are working around the clock to help migrants get to San Diego from Texas.
Pastor Jean Elise-Durandisse, who leads the largely Haitian congregation at the Christ United Methodist Church in San Diego, traveled to Del Rio with immigration attorney Wismick Saint-Jean on Wednesday.
"It is heartbreaking and inhuman to treat people like that and it's really emotional, so that’s one of the reasons we said we have to do something," Pastor Elise-Durandisse said.
The top American diplomat to Haiti resigned Thursday, saying the U.S. approach to the country was "deeply flawed". The United States has sent at least 4,000 Haitian migrants back to Haiti on expulsion flights or to other processing centers along the U.S. Mexico border after the camps in Del Rio reached upwards of 12,000 migrants during the last week.
NBC News has confirmed that U.S. officials have said that thousands of Haitian migrants are being released into the United States with notices to appear to immigration offices within 60 days. It is unclear which migrants are being put on expulsion flights and which are being allowed to stay in the United States.
"The Haitian President was assassinated not too long ago, about maybe over a month ago and then a month later after the assassination you had a terrible earthquake that destroyed a good part of the southern part of Haiti, so it shouldn’t be any wonder to anybody that people would start seeking refuge," said Wismick Saint-Jean, explaining the influx of Haitian migrants at the border.
Saint-Jean and Elise-Durandisse said they had planned to stay in Texas for three days, but are willing to adjust their travel plans depending on how much assistance they feel they can provide once they visit the migrant camps.
One local pastor told NBC 7 he
Pastor Johny Oxeda from the First Haitian Baptist Church Ebenezer of San Diego said he, too, hopes to travel to Texas soon to help Haitians there. He said he's already helped approximately 50 migrants get to San Diego over the past week and has 15 refugees sleeping in his home.