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San Antonio prepares to assist migrants when Title 42 expires

Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar said funding is on the way to assist San Antonio with humanitarian aid for migrants
Brian Kirkpatrick
Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar said funding is on the way to assist San Antonio with humanitarian aid for migrants

San Antonio will become a major hub to meet the humanitarian needs of a greater number of migrants expected to arrive after Title 42 is lifted on May 11, according to officials at a news conference on Friday at the headquarters of Catholic Charities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced the Biden administration will lift the Trump-era policy that prevented asylum-seekers from crossing the border into the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic San Antonio Congressman Henry Cuellar, who spoke at the news conference, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection is processing a swell of migrants that has already started in anticipation of the end of the policy.

"Right now, at the southern border, they're stopping about 8,700 people a day. You know it could go up higher ... 8,700 people a day, that's a lot," he said. Cuellar also represents a stretch of the border around Laredo.

He explained that the City of San Antonio has received around $20 million since December 2022 to assist migrants during past surges with temporary housing, food, clothing, and other needs. Most of that aid has been accomplished through a partnership with Catholic Charities, which offers individual case work to migrants sent here by the federal government.

Cuellar said his office would later announce that millions more will be sent to the city to assist with this border surge.

Antonio Fernandez, the president and CEO of Catholic Charities, who also spoke at the news conference, urged San Antonians to make donations now to assist with the humanitarian effort.

"Please donate to Catholic Charities, so all these kids coming from other places have a little doll [or] a little car, or whatever it is. Food, new clothes — actually, we can always use them, so anything that people can donate to us, even money, that will actually help us to make the way a little more humane, a little more compassionate," he said.

Fernandez said they are not sure how many migrants they expect to arrive in San Antonio, but they are capable of assisting more than 700 people by placing them in hotels through financial donations. He said most people stay for about 48 hours before moving on, usually to join family members in other U.S. cities. Fernandez said the migrants will also receive transportation assistance to reach their final destination.

In other action on Friday, Democratic San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro joined Congressman Greg Casar to announce their offices have expedited more than $38 million in funding to meet the humanitarian needs of the migrants.

The funding, which comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, includes $31,955,232 for Catholic Charities of San Antonio, $4,692,492 for the City of San Antonio, and $1,584,931 for United Way of San Antonio.

“Over the last several years, San Antonio has been a model for the nation in the humane way we treat migrants. As we prepare for the end of Title 42, Congressman Casar and I have worked closely with the Biden administration to emphasize the need for additional resources to support San Antonio’s migrant response. This new funding will help Catholic Charities, the City of San Antonio, and United Way provide comprehensive services that help migrants connect with their loved ones and look towards a better future,” Castro said.

In April 2023, more than 12,000 migrants passed through San Antonio’s Migrant Resource Center, which is operated by Catholic Charities in partnership with the City of San Antonio.

Cuellar added the 1,500 U.S. troops sent to the border by the White House will serve in a supporting role only to the U.S. Border Patrol.

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