Winter jackets meant for needy children to be returned after being held at border

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. - Dozens of needy children will be a lot warmer this winter after a 10News story exposed an incident at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

On November 9, Mission San Diego volunteer Paul Cecil was detained by Mexican border agents for nine hours, fined $650 and sent home after he tried crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. He was delivering more than $5,000 worth of new winter jackets to a charity in Tijuana, but Mexican border agents kept the jackets and told Cecil they'd be thrown away.

"Over $5,000 worth of jackets, beautiful jackets, they're going to throw away? I'm not that naïve," said Flo Murphy, who organizes the jacket drive every year through the St. Vincent DePaul Fund. She tried contacting Mexican officials about the jackets but was not successful.

Murphy contacted 10News, and 10News then contacted Mexican government officials. Murphy said 10News' calls got the ball rolling, and Mexican officials have since called her several times to tell her the jackets will be returned once the paperwork is completed.

"All these were very positive calls; people were very gracious," said Murphy.

In the meantime, 10News also contacted San Diego Mayor-elect Bob Filner, who was upset by the story.

"Who loses in that is the kids," said Filner.

Filner told 10News he contacted local businesses to see if they could help. On Thursday, American Towing, Coastline Security & Investigations, and Greyhound Lines came forward with 60 new winter jackets.

"I want to thank Channel 10 for bringing this to not only public attention but my attention," said Filner.

The donations from Filner's office will double the number of jackets returned by the Mexican government.

"There's more than 60 poor children out there. That means more children will benefit from this," said Murphy. "10News was an answer to my prayer."

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