Posted: Jun 23, 2014 6:20 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2014 3:07 PM
McALLEN - Local governments are using money set aside for emergencies to care for illegal immigrants being released from Border Patrol custody.
McAllen officials said they spent nearly $16,000 in just six days.
The immigrants are being released at the McAllen bus station. Officials said there aren't enough bus runs out of the city to take all the immigrants to their destinations. The problem is forcing the illegal immigrants to stay longer, mostly overnight.
A church near the bus station opened a center to help the illegal immigrants.
"They needed some help from us - showers, bathroom facilities, traffic control," McAllen Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Pagan said.
"They needed transportation from the bus terminal to the shelter and back," Pagan said.
McAllen leaders said they are concerned about the impact to the city's emergency budget.
Pagan said the city must be cautious with the use of emergency funds.
"Emergencies, by definition, you don't know when they're going to happen," he said.
"We need to make sure that we're cautious ... so that we have funds to meet other emergencies if they come up," Pagan said.
Pagan said the city should be reimbursed for the funds.
"Right now, the things we're doing, the taxpayers in McAllen are helping foot the bill for that part. This problem wasn't created by the taxpayers in McAllen. It's a result of the situation with the immigrant surge," Pagan said.
"It certainly is bigger than the city of McAllen taxpayers. We think that it's appropriate for state and federal partners to help us with those funds," he said.
Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said the county has seen a minimal impact.
"Our county is doing well. We're getting involved in a nominal or limited extent in trying to help out the immigrant influx by contributing about eight staff people. We've also put in place portable showers, portable restrooms," Garcia said.
Garcia said he wants to stress to the community that no public health or safety issues have arisen since the mass arrival of illegals.