HIDALGO COUNTY, TX – Judge Richard Cortez of Hidalgo County, Texas, along with McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos – the largest city in Hidalgo – both issued disaster declaration this week due to the fact that the Biden Administration has been releasing thousands of migrants – many of them testing positive for COVID-19 – into the city, saying that the city has reached “the point of capacity.”
Judge Cortez noted that the disaster declaration issued on Monday was to help qualify Hidalgo County for federal funding to assist in combating the skyrocketing costs of dealing with the massive influx of migrants into the county.
Mayor Villalobos, who also issued McAllen’s respective disaster declaration on Monday evening, did so in response to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) releasing hundreds of immigrants into the city’s downtown area, who are being cared for there by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, a nonprofit operating out of a city-owned building.
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McAllen officials say that DHS has released over 7,000 COVID-19 positive migrants into their city since February; this number includes more than 1,500 infected immigrants just last week, reports say; officials are aware of their COVID-19 positivity due to tests conducted by a third-party vendor, American Medical Response, on the migrants upon being dropped off in McAllen.
McAllen’s declaration is slated to last seven days, but can be extended via a vote of the city commission.
Judge Cortez, in the county’s declaration notice, attempted to draw a distinction between the legal immigrants that DHS was depositing into Southern Texas – many of whom are seeking asylum and are allowed into the U.S. while their cases are pending – and those who are in the country illegally.
However, Cortez nonetheless expressed concern over the fact that many of the legal migrants released by DHS into McAllen could contribute to a COVID-19 spike among the local population, in addition to their huge drain on local resources.
“The goal is to put us in a position to make a claim with the fed government to the situation that we have here in Hidalgo County dealing with these legal immigrants,” he said. “We have an overflow where it’s difficult to manage. They’re going into the streets of our communities some of which may not have been tested correctly or not taken the appropriate steps to put them in an isolated situation.”
“We have a law and a policy that’s creating a problem of having too many legal immigrants coming into this area,” Cortez added.