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Where's the money? SA, nonprofits unsure how to get reimbursed for migrant help

Federal relief bill signed, but no outlined application process yet

SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio and local nonprofit organizations took on a hefty mission that began March 28.

"We saw hundreds of people being dropped by the Border Patrol," said Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

"Since then, the number of immigrants keep coming in the hundreds every day," Fernandez said.

The families, Fernandez said, are continuously arriving at the downtown Greyhound bus station after escaping dangerous conditions in South and Central America and, more recently, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"Catholic Charities spent over $120,000 just in helping these Congolese families," Fernandez said, adding that hundreds of thousands more dollars were also spent on other migrant families.

"We’ve been helping at the shelter with volunteers, but mostly what we are doing is providing bus tickets (and) plane tickets to the immigrants so they can go to their final destination," Fernandez said.

So far, the overall price tag for Catholic Charities is an estimated $500,000 to help the influx of migrants.

While donations of food, clothes and toiletries keep pouring in, Fernandez said Catholic Charities is still in desperate need of financial assistance and might run out of money by Sept. 30.

The city has also been stretched thin.

"Over $200,000, approaching 240,000, and part of that has been to help our nonprofit partners," said Melody Woosley, San Antonio human services director.

The city anticipates that a recently signed federal emergency relief bill of $30 million, allocated to reimburse cities and charities assisting migrants, will help.

But with no outlined application process, how and when they will get that money is yet to be seen. The hope is that a meeting with the Department of Homeland Security next week can provide some clarity.


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