Riverside County has assisted over 2,800 migrants traveling through the Coachella Valley in the past, now the county is prepared to do so on an ongoing basis. Over 15 people have fled their home countries and are looking for help.
“It was probably around four or five families, seven kids from the ages of five to sixteen years of age. it was heartbreaking, it was tough to see them with maybe a backpack, with their clothing or a blanket and the clothes that they had on, and the little kids with shoes without shoelaces,” said V. Manuel Perez, Riverside County Board of Supervisors, District 4.
Supervisor Perez explaining the tough scene as he greeted 15 people seeking asylum in Riverside County, a sight that he’s familiar with.
“It is a tough experience to see all that, and I could only imagine what it’s like for them as they travel as far out as Cuba, as far out as Venezuela, of the folks that came yesterday,” added Perez.
Galilee Center, a non-profit organization in Mecca, will be providing help for the families who fled their home countries.
“The border patrol drops them off here once they have been cleared and granted asylum-seeking status, which means these people are documented and they can be in the united states.”
“With the new administration and with the new changes in those policies, the numbers started to increase,” explained Claudia Castorena, Co-founder of Galilee Center.
The average stay at the Galilee shelter is about 48-hours, and the center only accepts those that have been cleared of coronavirus. But because of the pandemic, they have seen a substantial increase in their numbers.
“It’s a coordinated effort that we receive the families that have already been tested for covid-19. The services not only have doubled, but tripled, they have increased so much because our priority is helping the community. Ever since the pandemic started we have been helping this community with food distribution on a weekly basis. we also have provided rental assistance, utility assistance, clothing vouchers,” added Castorena.
County leaders say they don’t know how many other asylum seekers may be coming to the valley, saying that conditions change on a daily basis.