Reception mixed for city’s new Migrant Resource Center

Asylum seekers cluster outside or leave the property

Neighbors and local businesses said they were caught off-guard by the opening of the center, and since then the reception has been a mixture of “not-in-my-neighborhood” to compassion for the asylum seekers.

SAN ANTONIO – As Mayor Ron Nirenberg has said, thousands of asylum seekers allowed to enter the US are passing through San Antonio in record numbers.

In response, the city opened a new Migrant Resource Center several weeks ago in what had been the CPS Energy customer service center on San Pedro Avenue.

The Migrant Resource Center is there to help asylum seekers with paperwork or anything else they may need to continue their journeys to meet families in the US.

Neighbors and local businesses said they were caught off-guard, and since then the reception has been a mixture of “not-in-my-neighborhood” to compassion for the asylum seekers, many of them families, who’ve risked their lives on treacherous journeys to get this far.

Gary McAdam who lives in the neighborhood behind the resource center, embodies both.

He asked, “Kind of an eyesore. But what are you going to do? You know, protest. Complain?”

Instead, McAdam bought breakfast tacos for some of the migrants in the retail center parking lot next door.

Sammy Hasan, owner of a wholesale embroidery store, said from a humanitarian standpoint he understands why the migrants are here and why they need help.

However, for a time, they were coming into his store in groups several times an hour.

“They’re just spending time, just killing time. There’s nothing to do outside,” Hasan said.

When his employees explain in Spanish his store sells to business clients only, not individuals, they get the message and leave.

“We never disrespect them. We always respect them,” Hasan said.

Hasan said the property management company has notified him and other business owners security is being hired to ask anyone who is loitering to leave. He said a recent email said “management is making every effort to get this under control.”

Asked for a response, the City of San Antonio issued this statement.

“For the safety of all, we ask that the community not leave donations at retail stores, parking lots or in the area around the Migrant Resource Center. Likewise, we ask migrants not to congregate in retail or parking lots awaiting donations. If you are interested in assisting migrants, please donate through the San Antonio Food Bank or Catholic Charities.”

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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.