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Extortion blamed for surge of refugees to Texas

Published On: Nov 09 2013 07:57:05 PM CST

SAN BENITO, Texas -

(AP) - A South Texas immigrant shelter has seen a surge of women and children because of a wave of gang violence that has swept over Central America.
    
Sister Zita Telkamp is director of La Posada Providencia in San Benito, about 20 miles northwest of Brownsville. She tells the Valley Morning Star (http://bit.ly/18haa0F) of Harlingen that more than 300 men, women and children sought shelter there over the past two months, more than in any year previously.
    
She says the migrants are fleeing a wave of gang-related extortion. The shelter scheduled a fundraiser to help meet the crush.
    
Telkamp says Central American extortionists demand money from the families and threaten to burn their homes or kill them if the demand isn't met.
    
Telkamp says the U.S. government has granted the refugees documents.