McAllen officials working with TSA and Border Patrol to help migrants get on flights out of South Texas, they say


Two-year-old Crystal Sofia Gonzalez is seen at the Humanitarian Respite Center run by Catholic Charities of the RGV in McAllen, Texas, where she ate breakfast and was being tested for COVID-19 after being released by Border Patrol agents on Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A day after the mayor of McAllen told Border Report that city officials would begin issuing photo IDs to help migrants get on flights out of South Texas, McAllen city officials walked back the process and said it wasn’t needed.

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling is seen in his office at City Hall in August 2019. (Border Report File Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling on Tuesday said several migrants had been released by Department of Homeland Security officials but were not permitted on flights because they lacked a photo identification.

But on Wednesday afternoon, city officials issued a statement that they have been in talks with officials with the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Border Patrol and were working out the situation.

“City of McAllen officials worked to address the initial reports of denied access to flights, it was determined that access was, in fact, not denied but instead delayed due to the complexities related to the identity verification process of immigrants boarding flights at McAllen International Airport,” the statement read. “Currently, the City of McAllen, continues to work with U. S. Border Patrol and Transportation Security Administration to resolve this situation to alleviate flight access delays at the Transportation Security Administration pre-boarding checkpoint.”

It was determined that access was, in fact, not denied but instead delayed due to the complexities related to the identity verification process of immigrants boarding flights.”

City of McAllen statement
A U.S. Border Patrol agent drops off two adults with two young children in downtown McAllen, Texas, on Feb. 22, 2021, at the Humanitarian Respite Center of the RGV. A police officer immediately walked the family across the street to the bus station. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

Darling on Tuesday met with the city’s attorney and said they were looking into issuing temporary IDs linked to the migrants’ Notice to Appear documents. The NTA documents are issued by U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials and allow the migrants to travel north of the immigration checkpoints with the promise that they will appear at any and all upcoming U.S. immigration hearings in whatever city they are living.

Now it appears that these IDs will not be issued.

“The City of McAllen recognizes the myriad challenges that U. S. Border Patrol faces in addressing the migrant situation and the dedication of U. S. Border Patrol employees in addressing those challenges.  Thanks to the partnership with and help by the U. S. Border Patrol, the concern will be resolved.  U. S. Border Patrol has committed to increased staffing at the McAllen International Airport in order to facilitate the transport of migrants from that location. The City of McAllen looks forward to a continued partnership with all organizations and entities committed to this process,” the city said.

Hundreds of migrants have been released by Border Patrol into South Texas communities since the end of January. Most are families with young children or those with medical conditions. This began after Joe Biden took over the White House and the Mexican government said it would not accept children under the age of 7 back, in part due to the violence and high rates of crime in the northern border state of Tamaulipas.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at

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