MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Hidalgo County Officials held a press conference Thursday to address the emergency shelter for COVID-19 positive migrants.
“We’re on month 87 of this…We have been dealing with this immigration issue for 7 years and three months, and the days keep counting,” said McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez at the press conference.
All local officials at the press conference urged the federal government to step in and help.
“When Catholic Charities turned to us and said ‘City of McAllen we can’t, we can’t handle these numbers anymore’ we realized that this was a crisis because they’ve been doing this for seven years,” said Rodriguez.
The emergency shelter, which is being set up at the Anzalduas Park in Mission, will help provide relief to Catholic Charities while also helping to separate COVID-19 positive migrants from those that test negative.
Officials at the press conference explained that food and water would continue to be provided by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.
Hidalgo County Commissioner Pct. 3 – Everardo Villarreal said that the Anzalduas park provided natural barriers to keep both those in the shelter and outside safe.
Anzalduas Park is made up of 15 acres of land, said officials at the press conference. Pct. 3 constables would also continue to provide security during the usual operational hours. after 5 p.m., the city of McAllen will be volunteering security.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores also spoke at the press conference, mentioning this was a “creative solution” to the problem.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez addressed the federal government stating he was “extremely disappointed.”
There was also a call on for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to come to the Rio Grande Valley.
Watch the entire press conference below:
Wednesday, the city of McAllen approved setting up a temporary emergency shelter in response to the increase of migrants being released in the city.
In a release, the city mentioned for the past seven years, Catholic Charites of the Rio Grande Valley had been able to handle providing shelter for the migrants. However, the recent increase has been overwhelming.
Wednesday night, the city of McAllen announced that the location of the emergency temporary shelters for COVID-positive immigrants would change.
The location of the temporary emergency shelters housing COVID positive migrants was moved from 23rd street in Mcallen to a Hidalgo County property near Customs and Border Protection operations.
McAllen officials are asking the federal government for relief due to the increase of individuals being released into the city by officials.
According to the city of McAllen, since mid-February of 2021, there have been over 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 positive immigrants released into the City of McAllen by CBP, including over 1,500 new cases in the past seven days.
Overnight Wednesday, six tents had been put up with a capacity to hold 260 migrants, McAllen City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez told Border Report.
Rodriguez told Border Report the tents were built to safely house migrants who have at least one family member who tests positive for coronavirus.
The emergency shelter comes days after an executive order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that prevents Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, and other nonprofits, to separate COVID-19 positive migrants from those that test negative at the shelter.
Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley released a statement following the executive order stating in part:
“This one incident [in la Joya] has caused a great deal of misinformation and unfortunately serious consequences that threaten our community with catastrophic outcomes if we can’t continue to isolate and care for the families.”
The order from Abbott directs the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to stop any vehicle upon suspicion that it is transporting migrants that “pose a risk of carrying COVID-19,” and send the vehicle back to its point of origin. It also allows DPS to impound the vehicle that violates the order or that refuses to be rerouted.