Chris Thompson, Windsor Star, September 29, 2007
Another busload of Mexican refugees is headed for Windsor next week, the man many believe responsible for sending hundreds of refugees to the city told Mayor Eddie Francis at a meeting Friday morning.
Jacques Sinjuste, from the Jerusalem Haitian Community Centre in Naples, Fla., met with Francis for about half an hour.
Francis said Sinjuste told him another group was coming by bus—as many as 60 people—in the first week of October and that accommodations had been reserved for them in Detroit, although Sinjuste said his group had nothing to do with the trip.
Sinjuste said the bus would be arriving on Oct. 3 or 5.
Another three families and one individual presented themselves at Windsor border crossings claiming refugee status Thursday evening, Francis said, bringing the total registered with social services in Windsor to 244. Altogether, more than 300 refugees have appeared in the last few weeks, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
Francis said he stressed with Sinjuste the flow of refugees has to stop.
“My message to him was that if you want to help people you shouldn’t send them to a place where they are going to be sitting on the floor of the Salvation Army,” said Francis.
“Now we’re beyond capacity, we do not have the means, and people are not getting the help here. If anything, you should not be involved either directly or indirectly with providing people with false hope.”
Sinjuste said another person was responsible for sending refugees to Windsor and she was charging $1,200 a head to bring them here.
When told of Sinjuste’s comments, Francis expressed disdain.
“It’s pretty frightening when an organization knows what the price point of their competition is,” Francis said.
Sinjuste said he was happy with the meeting and said Francis was a “nice person.”
“My side is that . . . in reality I do not send them here, I send them to Freedom House,” a refugee agency in Detroit.
He said he accepts donations from applicants and that they don’t have to pay if they don’t want to.
“Ninety-eight per cent of the people that come through my office pay $200 or less,” Sinjuste said.
Sinjuste said he plans to be in the Windsor area until Monday, but declined to tell the media or Francis exactly what his plans are.
“That’s somewhat concerning to me,” said Francis.
“I have my own personal beliefs. As to what I’m concerned about is him trying in an organized attempt to find places that will provide lodging, house individuals until they can cross over, that’s a serious concern. Whether or not he’s doing that, I’m not going to make judgment on that. All I know is there’s a place in Detroit that has secured a busload of individuals to be housed. That scares me.”