Officials in a Texas border town are calling on the federal government to compensate the city for money it spent to help manage a surge of illegal immigrants that were apprehended at the border and released.
McAllen officials say the city has spent $68,000 over the past two weeks to deal with the influx of immigrants, most of whom are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
“We set up a special account to capture the costs associated with this unbudgeted item,” McAllen city attorney Kevin Pagan told the McAllen Monitor.
After U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents apprehend the immigrants, many of whom are minors without parents, they are given notices to appear in court for deportation proceedings and released into the city.
McAllen is paying to bus many of them to Sacred Heart, a local church. Besides the cost of gas and payroll hours for the bus drivers, the city is also using its own generators to power mobile bathrooms.
Nearly 200 immigrants are passing through Sacred Heart each day, seeking showers, food and shelter after their days or weeks of travel, often on the top of trains or in the care of smugglers.
If the flow of immigrants continues at its current pace, Pagan said that the city may have to dip into reserve funds.
Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 parents with children have been apprehended at the border, mostly in the Rio Grande Valley.
According to Pagan, the city should not have to pay for the influx, which is nearly double that of previous years. Instead, the federal government should cover it.
“We’re hoping, because the taxpayers in McAllen did not anticipate or create this problem, that at some point the other levels of government would hopefully reimburse us for that,” Pagan said.
Gov. Rick Perry’s office is monitoring the situation, according to the McAllen Monitor.
“FEMA ought to be reimbursing the locals for any costs related to this,” Perry’s press secretary told the paper.