San Antonio mayor praises community’s response to migrant needs

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Nirenberg expresses fears for city after El Paso shootings

SAN ANTONIO (Border Report) — During his “Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio” speech Friday, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg professed optimism for the longterm economic stability of his city, and pride for the outpouring and response by San Antonians to help migrants.

But after the speech, Nirenberg told Border Report that he did have concerns for the safety of residents following the deaths of 22 people in El Paso last weekend.

“The safety of our community, the security of our community is always our top priority, and that causes me concern every day. And to see the kind of racist xenophobic roots of a violent act like we saw in El Paso should concern every citizen in every city, but it certainly concerns me as a mayor of a Hispanic-majority community,” Nirenberg said after giving a speech at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Downtown San Antonio.

He added that he believes all residents should do their part to help identify those who would target others.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg gave a “Vision for San Antonio” speech to the North McAllen Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 9, 2019
in San Antonio. (Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez).

The alleged shooter who killed shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso purportedly wrote a manifesto condemning Hispanics and saying he wanted to target a border city with many Hispanics.

“It’s incumbent to speak out about that and encourage our community to speak out and identify it and if they see things like that — whether in the community or online — that they say something,” Nirenberg said. “But its also important for us, as policymakers, to lift up the voices to prevent gun violence in the future.”

San Antonio ‘rose to the challenge’

Nirenberg, who is in his first term as mayor of this metropolitan city that is the gateway to South Texas, said when he took office in June 2017, he never imagined that his city would undergo so many changes, nor did he expect thousands of asylum-seekers to end up there lost, hungry and in need of help.

City officials, with the help of nonprofits and community groups like Catholic Charities, opened a Migrant Resource Center adjacent to the downtown bus station. There, migrants can receive food, clothes, comfort, counseling and can spend the night at a church across the street. Catholic Charities even helps to purchase transportation for them, like bus tickets.

The task was made even more complicated by a surge of French-speaking migrants from Africa.

For more information on San Antonio’s migrant center please read this previous Border Report story.

“The world has watched as our city, San Antonio, rose to the challenge,” Nirenberg told the luncheon crowd of hundreds. “We’re successfully navigating the front lines of a global humanitarian crisis. We use vacant space to feed the hungry, provide a safe place for those in need.”

We’re successfully navigating the front lines of a global humanitarian crisis.”

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg

Since March, more than 28,000 migrants have sought respite, food and comfort at the city’s Migrant Resource Center, and more than 1,100 city employees have volunteered 20,000 hours, Nirenberg said.

“We have had literally thousands of migrants come through our community and we want to make sure they don’t end up on the streets.  … That we have compassionate care for those in need who are going to go through their asylum process,” Nirenberg told Border Report. “A number of different nonprofits and faith-based community groups have banded together with the city and that’s gratifying to see the city embrace.”

“This has gotten national attention. It’s a crisis response,” Nirenberg said. “We’ve never seen on the scale that we have the migrant surge lately but it is a good model that we’ve demonstrated by bringing all these different resources together to provide immediate relief.”

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.