Gov. Greg Abbott resorted to bussing noncitizens from Texas to New York, Washington, D.C, and Chicago, sending over 10,000 individuals as of September 9.
In San Antonio, city leadership decided to open a “Migrant Resource Center” on the 7000 block of San Pedro Avenue to process and temporarily house noncitizens. The building was formerly a Central Public Service energy office, but was vacant for some time prior to the center opening.
The Migrant Resource Center FAQ sheet claims, “Since April 2021, the City of San Antonio has served more than 198,000 migrants legally transiting through San Antonio en route to their final destinations across the country.”
“San Antonio has a daily average of almost 600 arrivals with more than 500 requiring overnight sheltering.”
The goal of the center was to centralize the daily flood of noncitizens. Prior to the Migrant Resource Center’s opening, those awaiting transport would crowd the San Antonio airport and the Greyhound bus station near downtown.
If they did not have further travel plans, they would mill about Travis Park and downtown San Antonio.
Now, all noncitizens that enter San Antonio go to the center. According to city officials, the majority of those who come to the center have solidified travel plans and are off within a day or two.
Those who do not have travel plans are released after a period of three days.
One noncitizen, standing outside a restaurant across the street from the center, told The Texan that most of the people there are Venezuelan. He was joined by another noncitizen named Ericka with whom he shares no relation.
The man interviewed said he was an educated professional in Venezuela, but economic conditions and political strife drove him to seek a better life in the United States.
He said he will soon be traveling to Orlando, Florida, but is waiting on a ticket from the city with no idea when he will get one.
Ericka said she was looking for work in San Antonio and had no plans to leave.
When asked about their experience in the city, the man stated the center was far from accommodating. He said that after the three-day waiting period, they were forced out onto the street with no resources.
“It is incredibly hot, and we do not have anywhere to sleep or anything to sleep on. We sleep outside,” he lamented, pointing to the restaurant patio.
Another migrant named Maria spoke to The Texan while holding her infant daughter. Maria is from Bolivia and is here with her husband.
When asked if she had been kicked out like the others interviewed, she said no, but that when they are not sleeping there, they must wander the surrounding area.
“At night we sleep at the center, but in the daytime we must leave. Tonight is our last night here, though. We do not know where we’ll sleep tomorrow. We have no money.”
She claimed the center has been accommodating, and that they are helping her get to New York City.
Some shop owners in the area say the influx of noncitizens to the neighborhood has hurt their business.
Sam Hasan, owner of Sammi Embroidery, told The Texan, “We have been here 30 years. When the city decided to put this center here it seriously hurt us. Some of them are shoplifting.”
“Those that aren’t stealing come in asking for shirts, pants, shoes, tooth paste, and other things. We are not prepared for that.”
“300 migrants come into my store on average from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and I have to spend time with each of them. That’s three hours or more I am losing every day,” he continued.
During the interview, a noncitizen came in the door asking him for a pair of pants. Hasan told him that he could not accommodate his request, and the man walked outside and sat down in front of the building.
“We had to put up cameras everywhere, and we have to make sure we watch them. When they walk into the shop, I don’t know if they are going to steal something,” Hasan continued.
He even mentioned that cars have been broken into in front of the shop. Between the stress, time, and energy he has to spend as a result of this center, he wishes the city would consider the business owners and move the center to another location.
Business owners are also not the only group negatively affected by the center. The San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD) helps operate the facility and is currently considering an official grievance against the city.
Joe Jones, head of the San Antonio Fire Union, claims he has received many complaints from employees regarding SAFD’s involvement.
He also alleges the city is forcing on-duty personnel to work at the center, which takes away from their regular emergency response duties.
The San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) is also tasked with running the facility. It employs 35 firefighters and 26 police officers daily.
There is no evidence that the SAFD and SAPD personnel are trained to deal with the daily flow of Spanish-speaking individuals to the facility.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg confirmed this to reporters, saying, “Part of the asylum intake process at the border should be for travel to be arranged for migrants.”
“There are some cases where they are arriving without those travel plans and that’s where the Migrant Resource Center operations help with the next steps of the journey.”
The city claims that the funding, which is being paid thus far through the city’s budget, will be reimbursed to them by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Amid the claim they will be refunded, the costs continue to pile up, and the $1,000,000 dollar price tag represents just one month of operation since the center opened in early July.
Editor’s Note: The Texan does not refer to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, noncitizens, or asylum seekers as “migrants” unless they are actually in the process of transit.
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Hudson Callender is a reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of San Antonio, Texas. Hudson recently graduated cum laude from Trinity University with majors in Economics and Political Science, and loves to study ancient history. Hudson is also an avid mountaineer, backpacker, and paddler, often leading trips to remote wilderness areas. Outside of his love for nature, history, and Lone Star beer, Hudson spends his weekends arguing with his friends about football, and will always stick up for the Baylor Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and San Antonio Spurs.