MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Sidewalk School is one non-profit organization that said they are already seeing an increase in asylum seekers coming to the border.
“The numbers have risen—in this one week alone—but people are coming,” said Felicia Rangel-Samponaro, one of the directors of the Sidewalk School. “It puts a lot more pressure on NGO’s in Reynosa because that’s a lot more people to support.”
Samponaro co-founded the Sidewalk School over two years ago to provide food, shelter, safety, and education for immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.
After the Biden administration lifted Title 42, a public health immigration policy to stop the spread of COVID, now asylum seekers no longer have to wait in Mexico to be processed.
Organizations like Samponaro’s take the lead in providing care, and in some cases, processing immigrants crossing into the U.S. However, the end of Title 42 on May 23rd is raising concerns about resources.
“The bigger concern is once that day does come, what plans or what is going to be put in place to make sure things run smoothly? To make sure there is not a rush to the border you know what I mean?” said Samponaro.
Reynosa has become a hot spot for kidnappings that target vulnerable asylum seekers in the tent camps in the plaza, according to Samponaro.
“Reynosa is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, can you imagine sitting in line with your children for 15 or 20 hours,” said Samponaro.
Though the Sidewalk School along with other local non-profits has asked for direction from government officials, they have not received any confirmation.
“We’ve asked that from the U.S. government and the Mexican government: what plans do either sides have in place to make sure people are safe as they wait in line on the Mexico side?” said Samponaro.
At its peak population, the make-shift Reynosa tent camp held 2,000 people.
It isn’t only Mexican or Central American asylum seekers coming into the U.S.
Samponaro said the organization is also seeing Ukrainian refugees.
Two brand new shelters have been established in Reynosa through the help of multiple groups including the Sidewalk School, but Samponaro said the biggest obstacle they face is funding.
“Two brand new shelters have been built, but to continue to feed everyone and provide all the services that are provided we need funding,” said Samponaro.