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Religious, Nonprofit Groups Help Asylum Seekers as “Remain in Mexico” Ends

by Catalina Villegas
February 20, 2021

SANTA PAULA, Calif. — At 4 a.m., one morning, Rev. Joel Hortiales asked his three kids: “Estan listos hijos? (Are you ready?).” 

As the director of Hispanic and Latino Ministries at Border Concerns with the United Methodist Church in the Pacific region, Hortiales has been helping migrants for almost a decade. As a father of three, Hortiales — who grew up in Mexico — was shocked to see the conditions the nearly 60,000 asylum applicants were living in south the border, and it bothered him to see children who should be in the prime of their education struggling to survive.

As he drove, the first 25 asylum seekers crossed the San Ysidro port of entry after their cases were assessed and they received a COVID-19 test. In the coming weeks, nearly 25,000 asylum seekers are expected to be granted entry into the United States. Hortiales said he must do his best to quickly fill the donation container that sits at the United Methodist Church just minutes from the border. 

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