MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Hidalgo County officials have partially reopened Anzalduas Park to the public due to the declining numbers of migrants and COVID-19 cases.
Sister Norma Pimentel with the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley said the number of migrants arriving at the park and the respite center went from thousands every day in the summertime to hundreds.
“The numbers are very low. I think they’re not crossing as much in this sector of the Rio Grande Valley. We’re seeing pretty much a little less than 100 people every single day,” said Pimentel.
The non-profit, Precinct 3 of Hidalgo County, the cities of Mission and McAllen have all collaborated to contain COVID-19 positive migrants at the Anzalduas Park.
“If they test positive they remain here. If they test negative they get taken to the respite center,” said Pimentel.
However, Sister Norma said the numbers in COVID cases have dropped in the migrants that are tested at the park.
“It went down almost to zero,” said Pimentel. “It was initially almost 5 percent, 7 percent now, it’s gone down.”
Precinct 3 County Commissioner Everardo Villarreal said the county decided to reopen a portion of the park due to high demand from residents.
“It was a hundred percent our citizens that were calling,” said Villarreal.
Villarreal said residents use Anzalduas Park as a bird-watching destination and added that currently, there are no fees to use the boat port.
To keep residents separated, Villarreal said there is a variety of fencing, signs, and guards.
“There are signs that the city of McAllen has placed. We have mat fencing, portal pipe fencing, and also two security guards by the fence,” said Villarreal. “We’re doing everything from our part. I know that the city of McAllen is going to install a 20-foot-high fence.”
Sister Norma said Title 42, the law that prohibits migrants from entering the U.S. due to public health, has caused asylum seekers to wait in Reynosa, Mexico, and are unsure when they can continue the asylum-seeking process.
For now, Villarreal said he hopes the camp won’t be needed for much longer.
“Hopefully by the numbers that we are seeing now, I hope to close in the very near future depending on our partnership with the city of Mission,” said Villarreal.