Del Rio leaders, activists say current immigration situation is ‘unsustainable’

Thousands of asylum seekers head to border cities after months in Mexico

DEL RIO, Texas – Unlike the influx of Central Americans arriving through Mexico, those arriving into Del Rio now are different having done so in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a historic winter storm.

Mayor Bruno Lozano said he sent President Joe Biden a video message last month pleading him to stop asylum seekers from arriving in Del Rio.

Lozano went so far as to threaten to issue an emergency order barring them from entering the city at a time when the city saw more than 11 inches of snow.

“My community was managing an environmental crisis, the winter storm that we experienced throughout this entire area,” Lozano said, compounded by the lack of power and water that resulted.

He also said arrivals were not being tested for COVID-19.

According to Lozano, the federal government had sent funds for rapid testing kits, but Del Rio does not have the staffing available to administer the tests.

“That should be up to the federal government,” Lozano said in the video.

Tiffany Burrow, operations manager for the Val Verde Humanitarian Border Coalition, called the current situation in Del Rio “unsustainable.”

“Our community is facing enormous challenges and Del Rio needs support,” Burrow said in a statement to KSAT. “The immigration issue here in Del Rio is much bigger than what our local government can provide. Without a doubt the current situation at this projected rate is unsustainable.”

As a nonprofit, Burrow said the coalition is there to provide “only so much assistance that we can provide.”

Burrow said that she’s also noticed a difference in the people that are coming to them for help.

“In 2019, we saw the poorest of the poor, not the case in 2021,” Burrow said.

She said the majority of families have shoes and clothing and come prepared to pay for the travel expenses to their final destinations.

Lozano, who testified on Capitol Hill last week, said his comments were only meant to help the individuals crossing the border.

“I don’t want to demonize anybody or any group of individuals,” Lozano said. “I want them to be set up for success in our country.”

However, Lozano said that is not possible with the current immigration system.

Check out some of Jessie Degollado’s coverage in 2019:

Also on KSAT:

Lawmakers are seeking common ground on DACA, but comprehensive immigration reform will be a challenge for Democrats

Child migrant facility reopened by Biden administration in South Texas draws criticism from immigration advocates

As migrant apprehensions rise, Abbott slams Biden immigration policies in border appearance

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.