Border tour: Congress members meet with refugees

SAN BENITO — The members of Congress touring South Texas were full of questions for the young African refugees standing in front of them.

“What were the causes that you left your home country?” asked U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D- Georgia.

He and 11 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus had stopped yesterday at La Posada Providencia, which houses refugees fleeing danger in their home countries.

Johnson said U.S. Rep Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, had invited them to his district to learn about health care and other issues here.

At La Posada, they sat at a round table while women from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia stood before them and told their stories of danger and survival.

The woman addressed by Johnson explained the reasons why she and her husband fled East Africa.

“My husband was in prison for 21 days because of his political party,” answered the slender woman, her voice and gestures conveying grief and strength. Like the other women’s husbands, hers was in detention in another part of the country.

Sister Zita Telkamp, program director of La Posada, told the legislators that when a family crosses the border, there are no facilities to accommodate women and/or children. Authorities call Sister Zita about accommodating them, while the husbands are shipped off to detention.

For the rest of this story and many other EXTRAS, go to our premium site,

Subscribe to it for only $6.99 per month or purchase a print subscription and receive the online version free, which includes an electronic version of the full newspaper and extra photo galleries, links and other information you can’t find anywhere else.