A local leader is asking for the national government’s assistance to address costs associated with a migrant influx in McAllen.
On Monday night, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling addressed last week’s release of more than 2,000 migrants legally allowed to be in the country.
“We didn’t ask for this,” he said. “It’s a process we don’t have control of but what we can control is what happens in our city.”
The influx is causing crowding in facilities like the Catholic Charities Respite Center, prompting other organizations, like the Salvation Army in McAllen, to help with the overflow.
Now, Darling wants to see the federal government step in to help.
Earlier this month, Senator John Cornyn co-sponsored a provision to give Congress more discretion under the National Emergencies Act. Darling said this would allow local governments to obtain reimbursements towards humanitarian crisis relief efforts, instead of just natural disasters.
Right now, the city fronts certain costs associated with processing migrants who arrive in the Rio Grande Valley, including transportation and medical care.
“Influenza is a real concern,” said Darling. “We haven’t had measles yet but putting (those who are sick) on a bus with 70 other people is not a choice.”
A couple years ago, Darling said the government reimbursed the city of McAllen around $150,000, a fraction of around the $600,000 the city spent on related costs that year.
However, many of the costs of processing migrants are covered by donations and the Catholic Charites, an organization facing its own challenges.
In February, the McAllen city commission voted to re-locate the Respite Center within 90 days, amid complaints from residents about the location of the facility. City officials have until May to find a new location for the center.