Catholic Charities, the largest organization assisting migrants who have been released from federal custody in Texas, is criticizing government officials and lawmakers for the lack of organization in recent months in the release of families on the southern border.
Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, says Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and unspecified lawmakers in the region have on several recent occasions provided misinformation on release times and locations.
“The frustration is not the work — it’s the lack of information because we get conflicting info from so many people,” Fernandez told the Washington Examiner in a recent interview, citing a “lack of transparency and information” from DHS officials.
Fernandez said even employees from the same agencies have provided contradicting information.
The organization’s San Antonio arm is typically the first stop for migrants who have just been released from custody in the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, Del Rio, and El Paso regions of Texas. The charity’s area of responsibility includes 19 counties.
San Antonio is the closest major city to the border in South Texas. Many migrants who have been released from custody and told to show up to asylum hearings in the future will then fly or take a bus from San Antonio to their final destination in the U.S.
Last week, approximately 1,000 migrants arrived in San Antonio on government-funded buses and private vans. Fernandez said it’s been “madness” trying to prepare for the arrival of migrants only to then have the dates or places changed last minute.
Catholic Charities has 600 employees in that area and 14,000 volunteers. If the organization finds out a few hundred migrants are being dropped off in San Antonio at a certain time, they will put out a call to action and ask people to turn out at the bus station.
Fernandez referenced one such false alarm they had and said it is taxing on his volunteers.
The organization used part of its $35 million budget last year to open a small overnight center. It’s been full nearly every night in recent weeks to the point that they are putting up people in local hotels.
The local center has supplied migrants with meals similar to the food they would eat in their home countries, clothes, and big duffel bags to carry them in, as well as transportation upgrades when possible.
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