SAN ANTONIO – Asylum seekers have become a familiar sight outside the Migrant Service Center beneath the shade of nearby storefronts, in a retail parking lot accepting donations or temporary work and at other area locations.
But they’re no longer there, with a few exceptions.
District 1 City Councilman Mario Bravo said SAPD is now in the area and in the retail parking lot, asking anyone who is loitering to leave.
He also pointed to the additional tents erected on the property just north of Oblate, and picnic tables that now have been set up for them.
Although they can leave to buy food at nearby restaurants, Bravo said the center is serving three hot meals a day for them.
“The more comfortable we can keep them on the site, the less they’re going to wander off premises,” Bravo said.
He said although many of his constituents feel compassion for the migrants, his office had gotten complaints from nearby residents and business owners.
For instance, one business owner said he had no problem with them. In fact, he said they were buying a lot of his products and others were offering to unload arriving inventory for a few dollars.
Sammy Hasan, who owns a wholesale embroidery shop, said the only problem he had was when group after group of several people entered the store to look around, making some customers uncomfortable.
On Thursday, Hasan said he saw 20 people come in at different groups. “Probably new arrivals,” he said.
Otherwise, since the changes have been made, Hasan said, “For the past two days, maybe two guys or groups a day, which is way less from what we used to see in the past.”
“We can live with it if they can just, you know, follow the rules,” Hasan said.
Bravo said the Migrant Resource Center is set up to handle 600 asylum seekers daily.
After 24 to 48 hours, they’re able to move on, so the turnover is high, he said.
However, he said if the center is at capacity, the city is asking border communities to hold off sending more migrants until there’s room.
“Most of them are cooperating,” Bravo said. “Not all of them are.”
Regardless, Bravo said the Migrant Resource Center is trying to expedite their journeys, such as making sure their federal paperwork is in order to get them to Western Union where their families wire them money to cover their plane or bus tickets.
Bravo said, “We want to assist them to get to wherever they’re going, and we’re trying to do that as efficiently as possible.”