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      Asylum seekers on the rise in the RGV

      A San Benito shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers are finding their services are in greater demand than ever before.

      For nearly 25 years, La Posada Providencia in San Benito has offered a warm welcome to those petitioning for legal refuge in the United States.

      In the past year, they have seen three times as many people in need.

      Director of La Posada Providencia sister Zita Telkamp said over the past year the shelter has seen a surge in women and children seeking a better life, especially those from Central America.

      "In September and October we've had 300 mothers and children, we get about 150 a month."

      That TMs more than they normally would see in a single year.

      "They come as a family usually, the father, mother and children. And when they cross the border the father's whisked away to detention and sometimes deported and then the mother and children are here."

      The shelter has also seen a great increase in the number of asylum seekers especially from African countries.

      "Most of them are here because of their political or religious views toward their country."

      Refugee Hector Tellez escaped communist Cuba in January.

      "The social system in my country is not very stable, Tellez said.

      Tellez said he sailed on a raft for 12 days to Honduras and then traveled to the Rio Grande Valley.

      In the process of seeking asylum, Hector is learning how to survive in the new country he hopes his wife and children will one day be able to call home.

      "Once I get all my legal paper in order I will bring them here."

      With a greater demand for their services, retired school teacher Marilyn McClain arrived from Pennsylvania over the weekend to help for the next five months.

      "I enjoy the challenge of working with these people, McClain said.

      But if the number of refugees continues to grow, the shelter will need many more volunteers and more donations as well.

      The center depends on donations and grants to operate.

      In January the shelter will be hosting an auction at TSTC to celebrate the shelter TMs 25th anniversary and raise funds for the year.For more on volunteering or donating, contact La Posada Providencia TMs development coordinator, Alma Gonzalez at (956) 399-3826 or