Freeman Coliseum migrant facility to close at the end of the month; Lackland site to remain open through summer

More than 700 teens remain at expo hall as of Friday

Migrant shelter at Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall to stop housing unaccompanied teen boys
Migrant shelter at Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall to stop housing unaccompanied teen boys

SAN ANTONIO – The temporary shelter at Freeman Coliseum that houses migrant teens who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border will close at the end of this month.

The Department of Health and Human Services Department confirmed Friday that there are no plans to extend the contract at Freeman’s Expo Hall, which has an internal capacity for up to 2,100 beds.

The site was activated by DHHS as an emergency intake center for unaccompanied children on March 29, as the United States-Mexico border saw an influx of adults and kids seeking asylum.

That month, authorities encountered 18,960 children traveling alone across the border, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at the time said the contract, between the federal government and county, was made as a “humanitarian effort.”

At a news conference to announce the temporary shelter, Wolff said the contract would end in 60 days.

The Expo Hall — located next to the AT&T Center — is “probably better than any other migration site in the United States,” Wolff said. The staff and children have had access to basic needs as well as internet and TV access.

Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland also has an emergency intake center to house migrant teen boys. It will continue to house children through the summer, according to DHHS public information officer Amanda Woodhead.

At Freeman, Woodhead said the department expects the remaining migrants — 720 as of Friday morning — to be placed with their sponsors by the end of the lease.

However, any child who was not unified with their sponsor by May 30 will be relocated to another site in the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement network.

“ORR is striving to unify the teens at the San Antonio EIS at the Freeman Coliseum with their sponsors as quickly and safely as possible and the numbers of unification are increasing daily now that the case managers have had time to contact sponsors and the verification process is underway,” Woodhead said. “We anticipate that a majority of teens here will be unified with their sponsor before the facility closes on May 30, 2021.”

DHHS released the following census numbers for San Antonio’s two emergency sites on Friday morning:

Freeman:

  • Total number of teen boys being housed at Freeman: 720
  • Total number of teen boys with COVID currently housed at Freeman: 5
  • Total number of teen boys unified with sponsors from Freeman: 1,111
  • Total number of teen boys who’ve been transferred from Freeman: 386
  • Total number of teen boys who’ve aged out of care at Freeman: 37

Lackland:

  • Total number of teen boys being housed at JBSA Lackland: 368
  • Total number of teen boys with COVID currently housed at JBSA Lackland: 11
  • Total number of teen boys unified with sponsors from JBSA Lackland: 44
  • Total number of teen boys who’ve been transferred from JBSA Lackland: 3
  • Total number of teen boys who’ve aged out of care at JBSA Lackland: 1

JBSA-Lackland has a capacity of 372 beds.

CNN reported that Dallas’ emergency shelter at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center will close on June 2 as the lease expires.

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