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City breaks down cost of transporting migrants

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Buses of migrants leaving from Laredo every day has so far cost taxpayers upwards of $100,000.

The City of Laredo is still waiting to hear back from FEMA about reimbursements.

On August 6th, the City of Laredo began its operation of busing migrants to other cities like Dallas, Houston, and Austin.

The plan, which Mayor Pete Saenz said is unsustainable for a long period of time, is already costing the city thousands of taxpayers’ dollars.

On Monday night, city grant administrator Arnold Lozano broke down the numbers.

“At that 10 day mark, we’re seeing about $100,000 that we are expending. Our estimated monthly expenses based on those 10 days, we’re looking at about $390,000 and estimated expenses up until December, end of the year, city’s looking at about $1.95 million.”

Lozano says aside from the bus ticket, the bulk of the city’s expense include personnel costs and the extra’s being provided to the migrants and their families.

“The respite care the city is providing is food, light snacks and water; portable toilets and washing stations; providing cellphones to the migrants to make phone calls to their sponsoring families; color books for the kids and essential supplies for the kids including pampers, formula, bottles and clothing. With all that there in a nutshell is what’s making up the meat of our expenses.”

Roughly four to five buses with upwards of 50 people at a time are leaving the gateway city on a daily basis.

Chief Guillermo Heard, fire chief and emergency management coordinator, says so far they’ve assisted 1,900 people.

“We’ve coordinated with three different cities, and in the end we’re mostly coordinating with Houston,” said Heard. “We also are advising their EMC at the time of the bus leaving and also the bus number two.”

According to an open record document KGNS requested, as of August 11th the majority of the buses have gone to Houston.

That’s 16 buses and more than 700 people.

Three have gone to Dallas and four to Austin.

City management says that FEMA’s national board is reviewing their request for $1.9 million in reimbursement.

City officials hope to hear back from the agency within the next week or so.

City management says that Border Patrol tells them things will be slowing down soon.

According to Chief Heard, as of July 30-40% of the migrant buses that Holding Institute received had COVID positive passengers.

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