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San Antonio's Migrant Resource Center races to care for more people fleeing Venezuela

Migrants sleep on Cicis Pizza boxes outside of the resource migrant center.
Kayla Padilla
Migrants sleep on Cicis Pizza boxes outside of the resource migrant center.

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Thousands of migrants have crossed into Eagle Pass this week to seek asylum, and many have continued on to San Antonio. Some of them have come to the Migrant Resource Centeron San Pedro Avenue, which reported many more people from Venezuela.

The nearby Cici’s Pizza has become a familiar lunch spot for the migrants who are scattered throughout the sidewalks and parking lot.

A man named Juan Carlos has been in San Antonio for five days. He’s originally from Venezuela and left behind his wife and two kids to seek a better life.

He’s been sleeping on Cici’s Pizza boxes outside of the resource center for the past few days. “There’s not enough beds inside anyway, so either way we’ll have to sleep on the floor,” he said.

The Migrant Resource Center has a capacity of 707 individuals. Last Thursday, the center had over 1,500 individuals after a bus dropped off hundreds of migrants who had crossed over in Eagle Pass.

Antonio Fernandez is the CEO of Catholic Charities who oversees the operations of the resource center. In a statement to TPR, Fernandez said that they're running on dual operations.

“To the people in our parking lot, we are feeding them, providing food, restrooms and as much help as we can. We are trying to hire more people so we can serve them," Fernandez said.

Fernandez also said that they’re keeping COVID concerns at the forefront. They’re providing masks, soap and cleaning the center. If people get sick, they assess the symptoms and place people in hotels if needed.

Carlos is trying to make it to Miami, where he knows a friend. He expressed his gratitude for the resource center.

“They don’t treat us badly. I thank God that they give us food — but the portions are small.”

Migrants hang around the sidewalks outside of the resource center on San Pedro.
Kayla Padilla
Migrants hang around the sidewalks outside of the resource center on San Pedro.

Some of the foods given to the migrants include spaghetti and burritos.

Carlos hoped his family can join him in the future. “If I can find a way for them to enter legally, I want them here. But if it comes down to them going through the challenging journey I went through to get here, no,” he said.

Other migrants expressed similar sentiments to Carlos. Luis Bolívar is also from Venezuela. He’s been at the resource center since Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of people here but they treat us well. It’s a place where we can sleep. Thank God,” Bolívar said.

Rolando Salinas Jr. said authorities are expecting between several thousand more migrants to cross through the city in the coming days.

He hoped to make it to Chicago where he has family.

“I know that with God’s help, I’ll be able to bring my wife and kids with me in the future,” Bolívar said.

The Biden administration has expanded Temporary Protected Status to nearly half a million Venezuelans already in the U.S. but it does not apply to new arrivals like Carlos and Bolívar.

U.S. immigration authorities encountered more than 142,000 migrants at the Southern border in just the first half of September, on pace to match last year’s record high.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.