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Official: Immigration Surge Draining Municipal Budgets

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Posted: Jul 29, 2014 6:51 PM

Updated: Jul 29, 2014 6:52 PM

McALLEN - The cost of helping illegal immigrants could mean the end of some municipal programs, officials said.

The ongoing operation to care for illegal immigrants at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen is putting a strain on municipal resources, officials said.

"This is all coming out of local budgets," said George Garrett, director of homeland security in Weslaco. He oversees the emergency management at the center at Sacred Heart.

"We're all struggling with budgets and how to continue to operate," Garrett said.

"We're trying to re-evaluate what our resources are. We may have to cut a program somewhere that is not as vital," he said.

Garrett would not say specifically what programs may get cut. He said the emergency management team needs help.

"Cities and counties can't just continue to support this type of operation, or this scale of an operation, without federal assistance. We definitely need federal financial assistance," Garrett said.

Garrett said applications for federal grants have been submitted. He hopes Hidalgo County and Valley cities will be reimbursed.

"(Department of) Homeland Security money needs to come to the areas that are impacted the most by homeland security issues," he said.

Garrett said federal money is not making its way to the Valley.

"Right now ... South Texas, Arizona, Southern California or New Mexico we're all being impacted by these issues. These are less populated areas, so the grant money is still going to New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas (and) Houston. We get the crumbs," he said.

Garrett says he has applied for various federal grants over the course of 15 years. He said the Valley usually gets the short end of the stick.

Garrett and his emergency management team only plan two weeks in advance for the daily operation at Sacred Heart.

Topics: border patrol, rio grande valley, south texas, illegal immigration, immigrant, central america, border crisis, obama administration, immigration surge, george garret, sacred heart, budget, funding

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