SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Becky Clay-Flores and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg toured a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children at Freeman Coliseum on Tuesday afternoon.
The tour was held less than 24 hours after buses with about 500 migrant children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border arrived at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Center.
The group wanted to visit the facility to make sure the children were being given the proper housing and support. The facility is expected to house as many as 2,400 people. The group consists of boys between the ages of 13 and 17 years of age.
“This may not be the Marriott Resort, but it’s clean, it’s air-conditioned, it’s climate-controlled and it’s regulated in a very good way that we separate COVID patients away from the young boys who do not have it,” Wolff said at a news conference after the tour.
Wolff said the boys, who he called “good, good kids,” were happy to see the politicians.
“I must tell you, when we talked with them, they were so excited that we would show that kind of care to them, and they just burst into applause,” Wolff said.
Wolff said the facility has an internal potential capacity of 2,100 beds. Additionally, 300 medical beds are included in a separate facility. He has said that the children could stay anywhere from five to nine days, but it could be extended to two weeks if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
The U.S, Department of Health and Human Services is working to make sure the unaccompanied children are unified with their families or put with suitable sponsors in the U.S.
The intake site is providing standards of care for the children, which includes clean and comfortable sleeping quarters, meals, recreational activities and access to medical services.
Clay-Flores said the decision by the county to house the children is a “humanitarian issue, it’s not a political issue. It’s about supporting our children. Because if your child was in this situation, you too would want elected officials to open up and welcome their doors to them.”
She said the boys were excited to get a new pair of jeans and tennis shoes and welcomes the opportunity to play soccer in some fields prepared for them.
Castro said the goal is to get the united with their relatives in the United States.
Nirenberg said he is glad that San Antonio once again has stepped up to help people in need by “showing spirit and compassion.”
Volunteers worked all weekend to help set up the facility and to make sure they have things like clothing and hygiene products.
Catholic Charities is providing supportive services and they now anticipate having more help, as they have already received a large interest from hundreds of people who hope to volunteer.
WATCH the entire news conference below: