SAN DIEGO — In response to the recent large releases of migrants across the border, a church in the South Bay is stepping up to house people in need while shelters are largely overwhelmed.
The church pastors at Iglesia Cristiana Getsemani started out helping at the shelters in Tijuana and for the last five years they’ve been helping those who have been processed and come across the border within their church walls.
“We are a small church, a very small church, but we have committed people,” Pastor Bobby Wilson said.
The Getsemani church is used to helping about 10 to 20 migrants a day, but Pastors Bobby and Jackie Wilson say the last two weeks have been overwhelming.
“The amount, it’s been like triple. We’ve been helping 50 to 60 people per day,” Jackie said.
In order to free up space in overcrowded processing facilities, thousands of migrants are being released. Hundreds have been dropped off by border patrol at Iris Avenue Transit Center, just a few blocks from the Getsemani church.
They reach out to migrants and offer help directly or work with other charities and shelters that have run out of space.
“We prepare food for them, they could take a hot shower, we give a change of clothes, we allow them to use our phones so they can contact their family. Once their family knows they are here they start booking their flights,” Jackie said.
Church volunteers either book a ride share service or help drive the migrants to the airport as well. They do it all in their small but mighty church, with enough room for about 30 people a night and set up additional groups in a nearby hotel.
The Wilsons say they’ve been receiving some criticism from people thinking they’re housing illegal immigrants and want to clear up any confusion.
“They’re coming out of the bus with papers. That’s their documents that they’re here legally and they’re here temporary until they get the final go ahead by an immigration judge,” Bobby said.
They’ve opened their hearts and set up a temporary home for nearly 2,000 migrants in just the last year and now the Wilsons are calling on others to do the same.
“San Diego is a big city. If other organizations stand up and help, we’re going to reach a lot of families,” Jackie said.
The church, like many groups trying to help right now, need more donations to keep their operations going. They are looking for everything from diapers, to food, to toiletries and monetary donations.
If you would like to donate, the church can be reached at 619) 704-5840 or in person at 3055 Beyer Blvd # C1, San Diego, CA 92154.