La Joya and Hidalgo County officials voice concern over migrants released into community

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LA JOYA, Texas (KVEO) — The city of La Joya met with Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and Sheriff Eddie Guerra on Wednesday to update the community on the influx of migrants coming into the Rio Grande Valley.

Mayor Isidro Casanova said residents want more transparency from the federal government and local charities helping the migrants, in order to keep the public safe.

“It’s a serious issue that we have been having and we are trying to get prepared and ready for it,” Casanova said. “We would like to be briefed as to what is that we can do to get out people of to let our constituents know that what we can do and to keep us safe.”

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has seen a big spike in migrants being dropped off at the Humanitarian Respite Center in recent days.

“This Sunday, and this weekend, and yesterday where I was seeing so many families being dropped off more so than any other day,” said Sister Norma Pimentel.

While Pimentel said she has asked Border Patrol to temporarily stop dropping off migrants at the Humanitarian Respite Center, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said this is overwhelming Border Patrol.

“Catholic Charities has now reached the point of saturation they have reached the capacity so then border patrol and customs did not have any choice other choice than to turn loose the immigrants,” Cortez said. “That is where we are today.”

The biggest concern for Judge Cortez is the number of migrants crossing over that testing positive for COVID-19.

“We know statistically so far that the best estimate that we have is about 8.3% of those immigrants that are coming by are testing positive… that’s a pretty high number,” Cortez said.

While Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is seeing a higher number of migrants coming through its doors, Pimentel said migrants who do test positive for COVID-19 are housed in 10 hotels across Hidalgo County.

“Hotels that they can remain, and they can be safe,” Pimentel said. “We make sure we take care of them until they test negative and that is our process to make sure everyone is okay.”

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is paying for these hotels. But as more migrants cross the border, Hidalgo County hopes to come up with a solution.

“This is a very serious problem and I feel for all of the communities that are having to deal with the situation,” Cortez said.

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