Influx of migrants comes at a cost

Local News

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) — As an influx of migrants crosses the border, local governments and non-profits pay for migrant’s care, and wait for a refund.

“It’s a federal issue that has been thrown in our laps, but we have to deal with it because it’s here and it’s not going to go away,” said Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez

As migrants come across the border, the cost to care for them starts adding up. 

“We need testing supplies.  We need somebody to test them, so we need personnel.  We need transportation.  We need the facilities,” said Judge Cortez

Migrants also need shelter, food, and transportation.  Cities like McAllen and non-profits like Catholic Charities will foot the bills upfront.   

“It’s a financial burden and of course we don’t know if everyone is going to be fully reimbursed or not,” said Judge Cortez.

Sister Norma Pimentel from Catholic Charities of RGV said that FEMA will pay for the humanitarian response, and she expects to get reimbursed faster this time around.  Catholic Charities RGV did receive some money from the federal government, but it was not a full reimbursement.

“Four years of assisting them 100%, it would never cover the total, but it definitely helps a lot,” said Pimentel.

From 2014 to 2017 the city of McAllen spent nearly $1,000,000 and the government reimbursed them only $140,000.

City leaders said it is too premature to discuss financial impacts this time around, but Judge Cortez said they are as prepared as they can be, but things can quickly get out of hand. 

“As more immigrants are coming here and being processed successfully, that’s going to encourage more to come,” said Judge Cortez.

Another issue that has come up is what happens when migrants test positive for COVID-19. There has been some discussion about isolating them in a hotel or sending them to the hospital depending on how sick they are, which adds to the cost.

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