SAN ANTONIO (October 23, 2019) – After nearly seven months of operation and serving more than 32,000 migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., the City of San Antonio will close the Migrant Resource Center located at 400 North St. Mary’s Street on Friday, October 25.
“Our community came together to provide a compassionate layover to families seeking asylum in the United States. As they traveled through our city they were greeted with safe shelter and San Antonio’s welcoming spirit,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “We should all be proud of the response San Antonio provided these families during their stay. I’d like to thank my Council colleagues, City staff and our community partners for their support in operation of the Migrant Resource Center.”
The City opened the center on March 30, 2019, to provide needed services to the surge of Central American asylum seekers traveling through San Antonio after being released by Border Patrol and legally on their way to host families and cities. The City of San Antonio Human Services Department operated the center, in close coordination with other City departments, San Antonio Food Bank, Interfaith Welcome Coalition, Travis Park Church, Catholic Charities, and other nonprofits and community volunteers.
“We are grateful to the City Council, City staff, and our many community partners for their support and hard work, embodying compassion in San Antonio,” said City Manager Erik Walsh. “I am proud of our City employees and community members who volunteered their time at the Migrant Resource Center. San Antonio opened itself to migrants seeking asylum and showed compassion to our neighbors from across the world.”
At its peak in mid-summer, the center was serving as many as 450 migrants per day, with just as many receiving overnight shelter at Travis Park Church. The vast majority were families with children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala who have requested asylum in the United States. During the summer months, migrants began arriving from other countries as well, including significant numbers from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Haiti.
The number of daily arrivals and overnight shelter use dropped significantly in the last several weeks, prompting the City to transition the center this week. Partner agencies will resume managing services to asylum seekers, as they were doing before the center was activated.
More than 1,200 City employees and 600 community volunteers helped asylum seekers with travel arrangements and tickets to their final destination, food, medical services, books, activities for children, clean clothing, toiletries, and diapers while they waited hours and sometimes days for their travel.
Eric Cooper, President/CEO, San Antonio Food Bank, said, “It has been humbling to directly serve nourishing meals to our brothers and sisters in need. Proud to partner with the City of San Antonio and other non-profits to extend compassion. As we work to optimize our service model, we will we shift to our indirect strategies to make sure no one in goes hungry in our community, even when they are here for just a moment.”
Gavin Rogers, Associate Pastor at Travis Park Church, said, “Getting to shelter, serve and walk alongside our migrant brothers and sisters has not only been a blessing for our church, volunteers, and workers, but also a practice of solidarity, love, and hospitality. We had the opportunity to serve and it was worth every long night and day. Our migrant friends and families added so much to our community with their presence, love, and testimonies. They are heroes. We could not have opened our doors to more than 22,000 (overnight) migrants alone and I want to thank the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, Catholic Charities, the Food Bank, other churches, and especially the City of San Antonio for their support.”
Sister Denise LaRock from Interfaith Welcome Coalition said, “We, the Interfaith Welcome Coalition, are extremely grateful for the leadership of the City of San Antonio in bringing the non-profits together to collaborate in serving the great influx of asylum-seekers. We couldn’t have done it without the City’s time, talent and treasure!”/p>
J. Antonio Fernandez, Catholic Charities President/CEO, said, “I am so thankful to our great city for answering the call to serve families traveling through San Antonio to their sponsor families. All people of all faiths and backgrounds came together to welcome, comfort, and provide basic needs to families in search of a safe and productive life in the U.S. We are so proud of our community.”