Border agents in McAllen, Texas, have been forced to turn a public park into a community of migrants living in tents in order to house close to 1,000 people who have come to Texas from Central American countries as these border patrol agents are having a difficult time keeping up with the influx of people crossing the border into the United States in search of a better life.
However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) dropped off a record-breaking 11,026 migrants in the city!
The US recorded more than 212,000 illegal crossings in July, the first time that figure had topped 200,000 in 21 years.
At the beginning of August 2021, McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos issued a disaster declaration as local authorities rushed to find places to house the escalating number of migrants seeking asylum legally in the United States.
Mayor Villalobos is unsure of how things suddenly became so “dire” because it all seemed to happen at once. Because the homes from which they came were not conducive to their well-being or success, local authorities found themselves overrun and inundated with people trying to cross into America.
The mayor explained, “The numbers went from 500 to 600 a day. Soon afterward, 1,000 a day. And then an excess of 1,500.”
When they arrive, migrants are taken to the quarantine camp at Anzalduas Park where they are exposed to open-air tests for COVID-19 and acred.
A total of 1,000 additional people have been quarantined in hotels, private residences owned by charities, and churches.
The lack of migrant housing options in the city is currently a problem.
The network of churches and nonprofit organizations in the area, according to Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, could manage the high numbers at first. After Catholic Charities ran out of beds, the city began booking hotel rooms. However, Pimentel admitted that he was having trouble with the COVID positives right now.
“I did not have enough rooms to place new families in isolation,” Pimentel said. “So that’s when we said to Mayor Villalobos that we have a problem here. I don’t think by tomorrow I’m going to be able to contain this within our respite center. So I need help.”
Intensive care units at dozens of state hospitals have reached capacity, and the situation is expected to worsen as more people refuse to wear masks in accordance with the governor’s directive, in addition to the large population of migrants. Texas is at the heart of its devastating battle against COVID-19.
Unless the government steps in and helps, the problem in McAllen will worsen before it improves. Mayor Villalobos said, “Initially, I didn’t see it as a problem because it was under control, so I saw no correlation between the increase in COVID within our community and the immigrants because they were isolated.”
According to data from the middle of August, 14.8 percent of migrants released from CBP custody had COVID-19. This is, however, better than the state of Texas, which has a positivity rate of.
“We can’t attribute the rise in COVID numbers to migrants, the influx of migrants just became too big, the vast majority of McAllen residents never see a migrant, but we couldn’t risk them wandering around town,” Villalobos explained.
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