Laredo mayor expresses concern over migrant surge

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 10:29 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - According to the City of Laredo, a number of failed conversations with the Border Patrol resulted with the expectation of three buses filled with migrants being sent to Laredo on Sunday.

Two buses did arrive during the morning and one in the afternoon.

City council wants to see if they can be processed here and then be taken back to the Rio Grande Valley.

“The fact that we have severe limitation of beds in the city. Literally, having residents fighting for beds- almost everyday. We had diversions every other day. We had less than five ICU beds for 5 or 6 weeks in the past. We had one ICU bed for 2 to 3 days last week.”

Mayor Pete Saenz is still expressing concern over the decision that migrant travelers are being bussed to Laredo that are potentially carrying COVID-19 or one of the new variants.

“That’s very concerning and the fact that now we’re introducing another layer of population that have a high probability of COVID-19 and they’re going to be at the hospital, and even if there’s a slight probability they’ll be at the hospital, that’s going to overwhelm the system. It’s not that we don’t have the beds or the rooms, we’re lacking the staff.”

Last week, the temporary stop on migrant transfers to Laredo hit its deadline.

Negotiations between Laredo officials and the federal government are still up in the air, but the buses are still arriving and the travelers are being divided based on their status.

“So, they receive their COVID testing those that test positive are quarantined there and those that test negative are sent over to Catholic Charities,” said Rebecca Solloa.

While Catholic Charities in Laredo is still willing to deal with those individuals that are being shipped in, the city is still opposed to seeing people coming in from out of town.

“Our work is strictly humanitarian, but more... so, it’s also to create security and safety, not only for the families, but for the community. So, the structure has been and has worked well and has been all the families that come are tested at the Holding Institute.”

The city continues to work with local Non-Governmental Organizations by providing tents and generators so they can hold migrants until a temporary injunction is implemented. The mayor says he is not ready to give up the fight.

“The ideal scenario for us in Laredo is for the buses to stop and this is why we’re going before a federal judge and presenting our case to the judge and see what the result is,” said Saenz.

The mayor adds that the rise in COVID-19 infections and the lack of hospital capacity needs to be factored in, and that it’s crucial for our community and the federal government to see the issue at large.

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