Texas mayor pleads for help as migrant COVID cases surge: 'A crisis the city did not create'

Young unaccompanied migrants, wait for their turn at the secondary processing station in the Department of Homeland Security holding facility on March 30, 2021 in Donna, Texas. The Donna location is the main detention center for unaccompanied children coming across the U.S. border in the Rio Grande Valley. It is an overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families are kept in pods, with the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. | Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images

The mayor of a Texas border town is pleading for help in responding to the immigration surge as an influx of positive COVID-19 cases flow across the border, leaving the town of McAllen overwhelmed.  

“We finally need help,” Mayor Javier Villalobos of McAllen, Texas, shared on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle" last week, adding that politicians in Washington “could change this with the stroke of a pen.”  

“People blame us sometimes here in the municipality and we tell them it’s outside of our jurisdiction,” he shared. “If you want to place blame, we know exactly where to do it and that’s in Washington. And whether it’s the president, Congress, the Senate, whatever it is, they’re the ones who can take care of it.”

McAllen is a town of over 144,000 people located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. 

The lack of support from the White House and U.S. Congress places a heavy burden on local governments to contain the immigration surge, which puts a strain on their resources and workforce. 

“At the very end, this is not our responsibility. We don’t do this. We don’t deal with immigration,” the mayor of McAllen said. 

Villalobos also said the city is “running out of money,” and shared how the overflow of immigrants has led the city to set up emergency tents and issue an emergency disaster declaration. The declaration warned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection "is releasing an alarmingly substantial number of immigrants into the City, including individuals that are positive for COVID-19." 

The city of McAllen announced over 7,000 COVID-positive migrants had been released by CBP since mid-February, including over 1,500 COVID-positive immigrants released in the past week, Fox News reported. 

Immigrants released by CBP are sent to be tested by Catholic Charities, a third-party, and are asked to quarantine in a room if they test positive, according to Fox News. 

In its declaration, the city warned that nonprofits, including Catholic Charities' Humanitarian Respite Center, are "overwhelmed with the unanticipated influx of individuals and can no longer adequately feed, house, provide medical attention or otherwise accommodate the individuals being released into the City." 

The city said the "rapidly escalating" surge in immigration is developing a crisis bigger than the city can handle. 

"Despite the City of McAllen and its community partners’ best efforts, the sheer number of immigrants being released into the city has become a crisis: a crisis the City of McAllen did not create and has proactively tried to avoid for seven years," the city said in a statement.

"This significant change increases the threat of COVID spread or other lawlessness within the city."

Fox News’ Laura Ingraham asked the mayor if he had noticed a difference in the handling of immigration between the transition from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. 

Young unaccompanied migrants, ages 3-9 watch TV inside a playpen at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley in Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021. The youngest of the unaccompanied minors are kept separate from the rest of the detainees. | DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Without trying to be political, the mayor said that “six, seven, eight months ago, we did not have the issues we have now."

"It’s totally different,” the mayor stressed.

Biden has reversed many Trump-era immigration policies on the first day in office, including halting construction on the border wall. Many Republicans blame the new administration's border policies for the uptick in immigrants crossing the southern border in 2021. 

According to numbers released by the CBP, over 188,000 border enforcement encounters took place in June. In June 2019, the last year before the pandemic, there were over 104,000 border enforcement encounters. The year 2021 has seen the highest number of unlawful border crossings in over 20 years.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tapped to be the border czar, has been criticized by Republicans for not being proactive in response to the border, instead focusing her efforts on the root causes in the countries of origin. 

Fears of COVID-19 surging because of an increase in immigrants testing positive and the introduction of the delta variant has sparked an order restricting some immigrants from crossing the border. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended an order last week restricting the introduction of certain immigrants coming from Canada and Mexico to protect public health and the spread of COVID-19 through Title 42 public health protections. 

In effect, the order means that the Biden administration will continue the Trump-era policy of quickly expelling migrants and asylum seekers from the U.S. to Mexico, CBS News reports. The order also includes an exemption for unaccompanied minors.

"As part of the United States’ mitigation efforts in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant, the Department of Homeland Security has begun to transport individuals expelled under Title 42 by plane to the Mexican interior," a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told Fox News on Friday.  

Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In U.S.