MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — The Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley’s Humanitarian Respite Center has been seeing a big spike in immigrants these past few days.
Executive Director Sister Norma Pimentel said while she did ask the Border Patrol to stop drop off at the Humanitarian Respite Center, it was only temporary.
“We want to make sure that when we reach a certain level,” Pimentel said. “After 800 we say ‘okay give me a chance to see how I can move these families before you continue to drop off more’.”
But with more migrants crossing the border and high COVID-19 numbers in Hidalgo County, the Humanitarian Respite Center is also taking precautions.
“Anyone entering our center needs to be COVID negative and that is important, and making sure everybody wears masks following the certain protocols to help be present and helping them without exposing anyone else,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel added that any migrants who test positive for COVID-19 are not placed inside the center and are placed into hotel rooms instead of along with their families.
But in light of reports of migrants being released with COVID-19 Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez is calling on federal immigration officials to stop releasing migrants with COVID-19.
“We have been doing well as a community in slowing the spread of this deadly virus,” Cortez said in a statement. “But ill-conceived policies by both the federal and state governments are beginning to have serious consequences on Hidalgo County. I call on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into our community and I am further calling on Governor Abbott to return to Hidalgo County the safety tools he took away that would help us slow the spread of this disease.”
As for Pimentel, she plans to take this challenge of more immigrants head-on.
“I just believe that we should not be afraid because fear only paralyzes us we have to be able to step up and take part of a response to do the right thing,” Pimentel said.