McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The City of San Antonio is the latest city to be sent undocumented migrants from federal border officials in South Texas where thousands are crossing daily into the Rio Grande Valley and hundreds are being released by the Biden administration without being tested for COVID-19, a South Texas lawmaker told Border Report on Thursday morning.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said that hundreds of released migrant families now also are being sent to San Antonio by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
“Yes, I think our folks in San Antonio are going to be surprised that they’ve been dropping off people there,” said Cuellar, who is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, which oversees all funding for the Department of Homeland Security.
Border Report has asked DHS officials to confirm it is releasing migrants in San Antonio. This story will be updated when it responds.
Cuellar’s announcement of this new city to receive the migrants comes two days after federal officials began flying or transporting an overflow of the undocumented migrants to the Texas border towns of El Paso and Laredo, which is Cuellar’s hometown.
On Wednesday, officials in El Paso announced at least nine of the migrants sent there from the Rio Grande Valley had tested positive for coronavirus.
Now, the migrants — those traveling with “tender age” young children under age 7 — are being driven the 3.5 hours north to San Antonio, which is also part of Cuellar’s congressional district.
Cuellar criticized Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for refusing to administer federal resources to test all of the migrants prior to their release. And, he said it puts residents and leaders in other cities in a tough position not knowing the full health of those released.
Abbott visited South Texas on Tuesday and reiterated to media that he believes it is the federal government’s responsibility — not the state’s duty — to test all undocumented migrants they apprehend.
CBP officials have told Border Report they do not have the resources to test everyone who is apprehended for coronavirus. But, they refer those who appear to have symptoms for further medical care and possible testing.
On Wednesday, CBP Commissioner Troy Miller released border apprehension rates for February, which showed a dramatic uptick in the number of migrants crossing the Rio Grande into the Southwest. It was up 28% from January and 97% higher than in February 2020. The total number apprehended were 100,441, Miller said. This is the first time the apprehensions or “encounters” with unauthorized migrants topped the 100,000 mark since June 2019.
Miller said there was a recidivism rate for many, but would not detail exactly how many have crossed multiple times. Cuellar said that information is important and he said there needs to be more input by local leaders on this “crisis” situation.
“We got to have those constant lines of communication because, you know, the cities want to know when are they being dropped off and how many,” Cuellar said. “In Laredo, they’re not doing any testing if they’re dropped off at the bus station.”
“Whether it’s in Austin or whether it’s in Washington, what’s left out of the input in this equation is local input,” he said.
Cuellar and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, will tour a migrant detention center in Carrizo Springs and receive a briefing from U.S. Border Patrol, and then will host a roundtable discussion in Laredo Friday.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.