Sick, Broke Migrants Overwhelm Border Towns

“We had to respond. The vast majority of these families have young children.” – San Antonio assistant city manager Colleen Bridger

Migrants arrive exhausted, out of money, even sick from time in Border Patrol custody.

Local governments spend millions for their care.

Sep. 24, 2019

USA TODAY – When U.S. Border Patrol agents started dumping migrants at a San Antonio bus station in late March, sometimes in the middle of the night with no warning, Colleen Bridger didn’t know what to do.

The assistant city manager wanted to speak with the Border Patrol to figure out what was going on, how to coordinate the drop-off times and how to assess the volume of migrants San Antonio could expect in the future.

But because the Texas city is 150 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and had never dealt with an influx of undocumented immigrants before, there was a problem.

“I didn’t even know the right department or division or office to call,” Bridger said.

Since then, San Antonio has received more than 31,000 migrants released by the Border Patrol after they requested asylum.

The city converted a former Quiznos restaurant into a migrant processing center, gave them food and medical screenings, provided cellphones so they could call relatives in the U.S, and partnered with a local church to provide overnight bed space.

All told, those efforts have cost San Antonio more than $540,000.

A USA TODAY review of dozens of communities along the border – and some far from it – shows that local governments have spent at least $7 million over the past year to care for thousands of undocumented migrants released after being detained by the federal government.

Leaders in those communities say it’s their moral responsibility to care for migrants who are often sick from their time in Border Patrol facilities, exhausted from their journey and usually out of money.

“We had to respond,” Bridger said. “The vast majority of these families have young children, so the alternative is having hundreds of families sleeping on the streets.” … Read more. 

Featured image: U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to El Paso Sector, El Paso Station intercept a group of approximately 127 migrants. CBP Photographer Jaime Rodriguez Sr. Taken on March 7, 2019.