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Webb County issues disaster declaration for incoming migrants

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:34 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Because of undocumented immigrants being brought in from elsewhere for processing and release, the county is resorting to issuing a disaster declaration to keep it from getting worse.

“We’re asking for a little bit of help. We’re asking for a little bit of breathing room. We’re asking for just an opportunity to catch our breath.”

This from Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina as an SOS to the federal government as busloads of refugees, immigrants, and migrants (or RIM’s) are brought in from other places amid a COVID crisis.

”We have 254 counties in the state of Texas. Why are they dropping off the refugees, immigrants, and migrants from one border town to the next border town? It makes no sense to me.”

According to the judge, on average the county received three to four buses full of RIM’s a day.

They say 40% of them are infected with the coronavirus.

Aside from the disaster declaration, Tijerina has given his support to the city’s temporary restraining order against the federal government and he and commissioners have granted CBP access to their fairgrounds property to made a soft-side facility.

“In the event that neither the city’s TRO is honored by the federal government or this Declaration of Disaster, we needed to have another bullet in the gun, per say, and that is a last-case effort, in an effort to prevent the refugees, immigrants, and migrants from being dropped off unscreened,” Webb County Emergency Coordinator Steve Landing said. “Potentially either downtown at Holding Institute, at our local bus station, or even our airport.”

The disaster declaration will be in effect for seven days starting on Tuesday.

When county commissioners meet again, they will talk about extending it even further.

It’s unclear whether Webb County has the authority to halt the transportation of these people, but Tijerina says if that’s the case, they hope this will send a message.

According to Pastor Mike Smith from the Holding Institute, no buses have been going to their facility since last week.

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