’It could be helpful’: City of McAllen, Catholic Charities respond to Abbott’s plan to bus migrants to Washington D.C.

9 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Friday, April 08 2022 Apr 8, 2022 April 08, 2022 12:52 PM April 08, 2022 in News - Local

With the Texas Department of Emergency Management’s chief previously stating they would be ready to implement the transportation of migrants to Washington D.C. as early as Thursday morning, McAllen’s assistant city manager said that has yet to happen.

“That I’m aware of, getting on buses to head to Washington D.C.? No, not yet,” said Jeff Johnston, who also carries the role as the city’s emergency management coordinator. “Because it’s voluntary — it will take time for the migrants — immigrants to figure out exactly where it is that they’re headed.”

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Channel 5 News has made multiple calls to TDEM to clarify the bussing process and timetable. As of the evening of April 7, those calls have been unreturned.

Still, Johnston believes the Governor’s move has potential.

“I think — the way it’s been described to us — absolutely, it could be helpful,” he said. “If the [immigration] numbers increase as high as they are projected, we may have difficulty getting large numbers of people out of South Texas, simply because of a lack of bus lines, airlines, and available seats. So, the ability of the state government to come in and provide additional resources to move people along to their final destinations would definitely be helpful.”

Similarly, Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director for Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, thinks the governor’s decision could mean well, though she was uncertain whether or not Wednesday’s announcement was a political stunt.

READ ALSO: Texas National Guard troops spotted practicing mass migration exercises at Anzalduas Park  

“I think it may be a good thing for the families, so if that’s the intention of the governor, I hope that it will be for the good use of the families,” Pimentel said. “As long as they’re taken care of properly and correctly, it may be something good for some of the immigrants that are traveling to the east coast.”

Similarly, Johnston pointed out D.C’s Union Station and Dulles International Airport, calling it a major hub for transportation.

“There is some logic in getting to Washington D.C.,” he said. “If your final destination is somewhere along the eastern seaboard, especially the northeastern part of the country — it could make sense for some people.”

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The discussion over bussing happened as McAllen was recently named the sixth safest city in America.

Johnston stressed that safety and security will remain a high priority.

“We’re proud of that, and so we want to make sure that we continue that,” he said. “If we have additional capacity again for folks that are looking to leave the area, then we’re happy to make that available to them… The ability to increase bandwidth, if you will, and make more outbound seats available is a positive thing, so if the State of Texas is able to do that, and if the immigrants are interested in that trip — then I think it’s a good thing overall.”

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