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Immigration Surge Poses Different Challenges for Brownsville and McAllen

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Posted: Jun 26, 2014 6:42 PM

Updated: Jun 30, 2014 3:01 PM

BROWNSVILLE - The cities of Brownsville and McAllen are pitching in to help illegal immigrants released from Border Patrol custody. Each city, though, faces unique challenges.

"McAllen has a very unique and different situation than Brownsville does. While there are a lot of similarities of what is happening, there are differences," Brownsville Emergency Manager Jeff Johnston said.

One of the main differences lies in each city's bus station and how long immigrants have to wait before boarding a bus.

"Their facility is closed at night ... ours is open 24-7. They are also seeing larger numbers of refugees arriving at their facility than what we're seeing here. The dynamics of the two situations are actually fairly significantly different," Johnston said.

Johnston said wait times in Brownsville range between 45 minutes to a few hours. In McAllen, Sacred Heart Church stepped up to be a shelter for those left waiting. As of Wednesday five people spent the night there.

"Getting refugees on the road headed where they need to go, to their final destination. The intent is to reconnect them with family that may already be here in the United States, and our goal is to try to expedite that," Johnston said.

The city of McAllen spent nearly $16,000 over a six-day period to provide showers, bathrooms and traffic control for the illegal immigrants at Sacred Heart.

Topics: mcallen, brownsville, jeff johnston, immigrtion, bus, service, border patrol, rio grande valley

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