Local Shelters Struggle to Assist Migrants with Current Budget
MCALLEN – The New Year holds uncertainty for shelters helping migrants in the Rio Grande Valley.
Greater crowds of newly released migrants have not been met with greater budgets.
A surge in families and unaccompanied children in the U.S. illegally has exceeded the numbers of 2014.
Valley organizations are meeting their needs hoping someone can meet theirs.
A flurry of feet and scattered families pour into Catholic Charities Respite Center daily.
At the time of our visit, Sister Norma Pimentel, director of RGV Catholic Charities, said, "Every day this week, numbers have increased somewhat. I don't know. It's between 150 to 200 families."
The children and families are met with kindness.
Pimentel says, "We ask them, 'como estas?' 'How are you doing?' And, immediately try to help them with the immediate needs that they have."
More than care, the respite center provides them clothing, food, and temporary shelter in McAllen.
Down in Brownsville, there's a similar effort at Good Neighbor Settlement House.
It started in Aug. 2018 when they noticed adults and young adults were being dropped off at bus stations close to the end of the bus station operating business hours.
Good Neighbor Settlement House Director Jack White says they receive "up to, we've had 60 individuals dropped off."
They were initially helping locals struggling economically.
When Director Jack White announced they were expanding their service to help migrants, people who financially supported the center disagreed.
"Some of our old line contributors were concerned that this was not for Good Neighbor to be engaged in. And, they said that we were supporting "those" kind of people," says White.
Both organizations pressed forward. Throughout the year, the increase in migrants forced growth.
RGV Catholic Charities opened another location in McAllen; Good Neighbor created a respite area at their center in Brownsville.
For Good Neighbor, the changes demanded a greater budget than their annual $250,000.
White says the monthly budget grew by $2,000 to $3,000.
He explains, "We're not running a deficit, but we definitely are looking at a budget that will be exceeding our resources in 2019. And, we're going to have to find additional resources or find old contributors who will come back and support Good Neighbor Settlement House."
Donations from a network of organizations and churches spanning the country arrive to offer relief to migrants and the shelter striving to help them. Locally, they're supported by volunteers and staff.
At Good Neighbor, White says their volunteers' time could be better managed with advance warning of the arrival of migrants dropped off at bus stations.
White says, "Currently, we're having to cover a period of up to 10 hours that we have no information about how well we'll be able to utilize those volunteers."
White is working to create inroads with federal agencies.
Despite the challenges, none plan to stop helping address the need present at our border indefinitely.
In fiscal year 2018, Border Patrol reported encountering 107,212 families units, actual people who were part of a family; and 50,036 children who illegally crossed the U.S. border alone.