Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) — Congressman Henry Cuellar held a press conference to discuss the COVID-19 safety plan for the 25,000 asylum seekers expected to enter the country next week.
The press conference was held in regards to the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement on Friday.
25,000 people with active cases under the Migrant Protection Process will enter the U.S.
According to Cuellar, those with active cases in the Migrant Protection Program (MPP) will be tested for COVID-19 before entering the U.S. If they result in a positive test, they will not be allowed in the country until they are “cleared.”
After passing through the health screenings, and meet the qualifications, migrants will be placed in an alternative detention system.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will assist migrants in fill-out applications and forms.
“We want to make sure that even when someone is released to our care, and he or she has been tested, and they are negative, we want to test them again,” said Reverend Pastor Michael Smith, Executive Director, Holding Institute, an assisting NGO.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz addressed the economic impact the MPP will have on the community. He said that it seems like “deja-vu” in reference to the migrant caravans from 2014 and 2019.
“Compassion costs money,” he said. “Governments need to take responsibility.”
Mayor Saenz explained that in the past, NGOs and local governments spent thousands of dollars and were not reimbursed.
Cuellar said that he was able to secure a total of $130M in the final FY21 Homeland Appropriation Bill that directly reimburses local governments and non-profits that shelter migrants.
DHS officials will not allow U.S. asylum cases that have been terminated or that have deportation orders.
Amongst those that met were representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs): Sister Rose Mary, Executive Director of Casa de Misericordia; Javier Garcia, Executive Director, Bethany House; Becky Solloa, Event Coordinator, Catholic Services. Laredo Fire Chief Guillermo Heard was also present at the meeting.
To watch the complete press conference, click below: