Ongoing immigrant crisis

Former county judge Laura Allen, second from left, speaks to Val Verde County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr., seated at right, following Wednesday’s meeting on the area’s ongoing immigrant crisis. Also pictured, from left, Val Verde County resident Dottie Rowe, County Commissioner Pct. 1 Martin Wardlaw and County Commissioner Pct. 2 Juan Carlos Vazquez.

County commissioners court members made no decision during a special meeting Wednesday on the use of county funds to transition asylum-seeking immigrants out of Del Rio, but at least three court members said they believe such funding is unavoidable.

After County Judge Lewis G. Owens Jr. opened the meeting and determined that a quorum was present, with himself, County Commissioner Pct. 1 Martin Wardlaw, County Commissioner Pct. 2 Juan Carlos Vazquez and County Commissioner Pct. 3 Beau Nettleton attending, he asked Rowland Garza to speak to the court about the county’s role in the crisis.

Garza, who is the emergency management coordinator for the county, said the county’s response to the influx of asylum-seeking immigrants began in April, when county and city officials began meeting with members of a faith-based coalition – the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition – that formed in response to the situation.

He noted the city leased a portion of the Chihuahua Center to the coalition to serve as a center for expediting the transition of the immigrants out of Del Rio.

“To date, nearly 2,300 individuals have been transitioned through the Chihuahua Center due to the work of the coalition,” Garza said.

“We’ve assisted in helping maintain organization within the group and helping with resources to the best of our ability. We have not expended any direct funds for the effort, outside with helping out with some equipment,” Garza said.

He said the county has also received assistance from the Sothern Baptist Convention in the form a mobile shower facility and a unit containing washing machines and dryers.

The Salvation Army, too, has been present, providing a mobile canteen that feeds 30 to 60 persons daily.

Garza said the transition center sees on average 100 to 150 individuals per day.

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