Del Rio handling influx of migrant families

Migrant families are being flown from Rio Grande Valley, officials say

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter, Sal Salazar - Photojournalist

Del Rio is the latest border community to experience what's happening elsewhere -- an influx of Central American families.

Del Rio is the latest border community to experience what's happening elsewhere -- an influx of Central American families.

"On the average, about 150 a day," said John Fluth, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Del Rio, about the number of people coming.

In response to their arrivals, he said a shelter was created a couple of weeks ago as a wait station for the newly released families on their journeys north.

Fluth said a joint effort by the city of Del Rio and the faith community formed the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition.

Fluth said the city also provided 100 cots for those needing to stay overnight. 

When the migrants walk in the door, Fluth said, they are welcomed and fed, medically evaluated by a registered nurse and put in contact with their loved ones in the U.S. 

Fluth said a local business is even providing them freshly ground coffee.

Volunteers also help with travel arrangements and drive people to the bus station or airport. A vanload also was leaving for San Antonio on Tuesday.

Fluth said volunteers are preparing for even more arrivals now that many migrant families are being flown to Laughlin Air Force Base from the Rio Grande Valley, where the bulk of them have been crossing.

"It would be overwhelming if the community didn't pull together the way it has," Fluth said.

Contrary to initial concerns that the migrants would pose a public safety risk, Del Rio Police Chief Fred Knoll said there haven't been any problems. He said, if anything, when the public sees a group of people walking with children in tow, they call police out of concern for the children. 

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