SAN ANTONIO – Bused from the border by the federal government and nonprofit groups, migrants are traveling through San Antonio in droves on their way to their final destinations in the United States.
Since April 2021, more than 185,000 migrants have arrived in the city, typically staying only for one to three days, according to the City of San Antonio. The numbers have picked up recently, with the city estimating 19,000 immigrants will come through in June alone.
To help foot the bill for providing hotel rooms, food, and a planned processing center, the city will get up to $10.8 million in reimbursements from the federal government through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, into which the American Rescue Plan Act pumped $110 million.
City officials say they had expected a spike to come after the repeal of Title 42, but the controversial measure that allows the federal government to turn away migrants at the border in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 remains in place for now.
The city expects it will end up being lifted in late fall, but the surge of people has already arrived.
“We’ve seen unprecedented numbers coming through San Antonio. The past three months, we’ve seen about 50,000 migrants coming to San Antonio from the border,” said Assistant City Manager Lori Houston.
While the city says the majority go straight to the airport, some don’t have travel arrangements, and they end up in Travis Park downtown, where nonprofit groups try to help with food and shelter while they get their travel plans in order.
While the city does not pay for travel tickets for migrants, nonprofits might. They are also able to get the cost reimbursed through the federal government.
On Thursday, dozens of migrants gathered in the park, sheltering in the shade from the sun over head. The weather is one reason the city plans to open a processing center through which all migrants can go.
“I want to make sure that, you know, they’re able to get food, water, they have a place for a respite. And then we’ll have our partners there to help them with travel arrangements. And sometimes they have to stay at hotels two to three days until their flight leaves,” Houston said.