SAN ANTONIO – Though the number of asylum seekers has plummeted in the past two months, the City of San Antonio could end up leaving its Migrant Resource Center open through the end of the year.
The San Antonio City Council voted 10-0 Thursday to allow city staff to seek another $6.5 million in federal reimbursement to cover its share of the costs for the MRC, which Catholic Charities operates, for May through December. The center has been in operation for eight months so far.
It’s not clear if the the city will keep the MRC in the 7000 block of San Pedro open the rest of the year, close it earlier, or keep it open longer.
“As long as there’s a surge of migrants coming across the border, then we need to be prepared to help them and assist them to travel through San Antonio on the way to their destinations,” Human Services Director Melody Woosley said following the vote.
In the face of the “unprecedented” number of migrants, the City of San Antonio opened the MRC in early July 2022, though Catholic Charities has operated it since October 2022. Migrants who been processed by federal authorities at the border can get food, a temporary place to stay, and even help with travel arrangements.
The city and Catholic Charities both cover their costs through reimbursements from FEMA.
However, the number of migrants has fallen off sharply in the past two months, which the city attributes to changes in the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
The city went from a high of more than 37,100 migrants arriving in San Antonio in December to a little under 5,500 in February.
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Woosley is unsure whether there will be another spike of migrants again once a pandemic-era border restriction, known as Title 42, ends in May.
“You know, initially we thought there would be a surge, but there are other administration policies that have been put in place or are are being proposed that may impact that,” Woosley said.
KSAT had to chase after Catholic Charities CEO Antonio Fernandez during Thursday’s council meeting before he would talk about the center and its operations.
Fernandez assumes the end of Title 42 would result in more migrants coming through the city. While he did not know how long the center would stay open, he says he anticipates it will be through the rest of the year.
Speaking from the dais ahead of the vote Thursday, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that until Congress solves the country’s immigration issues, “unfortunately, this is what immigration looks like in the United States.”