HIDALGO COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Anzalduas Park in Hidalgo County remains open to hold COVID-positive immigrants crossing into the United States.
Catholic Charities executive director Sister Norma Pimentel said on Monday that COVID-19 numbers at the park have gone down, but expects a change in numbers as more immigrants are expected after Title 42 ends.
“Numbers increased and that even though it’s below 1%, it will be a larger group so it is good that we have Anzalduas,” said Pimentel.
In 2021, immigrants were re-located to the park when Hidalgo County became overwhelmed with COVID cases.
The shelter serves as a holding facility for COVID-positive immigrants designed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Operations at the park are handled by Catholic Charities, Hidalgo County, and the cities of McAllen and Mission.
“The city is working very closely with us in making sure that we have a space there in the case that numbers increase,” said Pimentel. “The reason that the city opened Anzalduas is to deal with people who are COVID positive and we are seeing a decline in those numbers.”
Once individuals test negative, they are transported to Catholic Charities’ Respite Center where they are processed, then reunited with family or sponsors.
“Our immediate response to families that we receive is welcome and help them realize they are people they are human beings,” said Pimentel. “Help them restore their dignity because they’ve been through so much.”
“Its just a lot of waiting until they get their families to respond back.”
The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced plans from the department to supply more non-governmental organizations with resources after Title 42 ends.
However, despite this potential aid, leaders across the Rio Grande Valley believe the area is not prepared for the end of Title 42.
“We are going to have an influx of immigrants coming through our ports of entry with projections of 18 thousand per day, which is not sustainable at some point it needs to end,” said Joel Villarreal, mayor of the Rio Grande City. “However we need to make sure we have a comprehensive plan before we remove Title 42.”
“We also know there are a lot of issues going on with different states with COVID so it’s very important that we keep our area the way it is, healthy and safe, so we’re hoping that title 42 can stay,” said Javier Villalobos, mayor of McAllen.
For now, the shelter at Anzalduas Park will remain open and will serve to prevent the spread of COVID as more immigrants enter the U.S.