McAllen officials to meet with federal health officials over release of asylum-seekers


Mayor Jim Darling speaks to city commissioners during a meeting on Monday Feb. 22

McALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — McAllen city leaders are scheduled to meet with federal health officials about the release of asylum-seekers who are not part of the Migrants Protection Protocols (MPP) program, Mayor Jim Darling announced during a city commission meeting Monday.

“Border Patrol sends them down to our bus station and releases them there or the respite center,” Darling told commissioners. “We are getting between 200 to 300 people a day.”

During last week’s winter storm, the Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen had more than 800 people at one time, according to Darling.

“The city had to provide generators and heaters,” Darling said. “We provided COVID-19 testing for anyone that had to go to the center.”

Darling added the city of Mission provided Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to assist with the overflow of people.

“We haven’t used the church, but Father Roy (Snipes) is ready to take them, if anything,” Darling said.

Darling told city commissioners he received a call from the White House on Friday to discuss the release of migrant asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico under MPP.

“It was kind of surprising that the White House didn’t know what was happening here,” Darling said.
“They’re more concerned about the release of the MPP people, the people that have been in camps down there that are waiting for their hearing.”

“They were trying to clear those camps out without, I think, understanding the total numbers that were coming across as asylum-seekers,” Darling said.

Darling said one of the main concerns is ensuring the city is reimbursed for the resources they have deployed.

“We informed them we are trying to make sure we get reimbursed out of FEMA directly or from the federal government,” Darling said. “We are told they have money, they just don’t have a mechanism to get to us because you need an appropriations bill or something.”

Darling told commissioners they have only had two cases of COVID-19 among the asylum-seekers who have come through.

“The individuals who tested positive were quarantined in another facility run by Catholic Charities,” he said.

Darling did not specify what time he will be meeting with federal health officials on Wednesday.

According to, the first charter bus with 25 migrants crossed from Tijuana into San Diego on Friday.

The bus brought the migrants who had been in the MPP program. Known unofficially as “Remain in Mexico,” the program was implemented under the Trump administration in 2019 and required asylum-seekers to live in Mexico while awaiting their U.S. immigration proceedings.

The Biden administration has put a hold on any new migrants being put into MPP and announced that about 25,000 asylum-seekers from that program will be admitted into the United States if they meet certain guidelines.

This includes those put into the program before the start of the New Year and only those with active immigration cases.

To watch the complete meeting, click here.

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