Journalist: Border Town Gets Little Help With Immigrant Influx

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 07:09 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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A Texas city near the Rio Grande is struggling to manage an influx of undocumented immigrants and getting little in the way of aid or information from the federal agency in charge of border security, a local newspaper editor told Newsmax TV on Monday.

"It is putting a burden" on the city of McAllen, Sandra Sanchez, opinion editor of The Monitor, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

Story continues below video.



Sanchez said cash-strapped localities and charities are working nonstop to find temporary shelter and basic care for a rising tide of migrants from Central America — many of them unaccompanied children.

"Since this crisis began as of about June 10, and we started documenting the money that we have spent here in Hidalgo County, it has exceeded $68,000 as of last Thursday," said Sanchez. "That's a lot of money for a very poor county, and this goes up exponentially every day."

She said that at one local Catholic church that is taking in 50-200 immigrants daily, "last Friday they were short 20 volunteers for the morning shift because people are tired," said Sanchez. "The federal government has not given the community any money to help support this endeavor. It's been done entirely through the philanthropy of the locals here."

But Sanchez also said the scene in McAllen is more orderly than people elsewhere might imagine based on news reporting. She described a network of local agencies that is providing new arrivals with basic services and then sending them on to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for medical checkups and processing.

"The country thinks that we just have a bunch of [immigrant] children running around without any supervision," she said. "That's not the case."

Instances of infectious diseases such as measles, swine flu and chicken pox also appear to be less widespread among the immigrants than initially reported, said Sanchez. But she cautioned that it's tough to divine the full health picture because ICE's supervising agency, the Department of Homeland Security, is saying very little publicly.

"We realize there's a lot of upper respiratory infections, conjunctivitis, pink eye, flu, but we really don't know [officially]," she said. "And the question is how thoroughly are these families, these children, being vetted in a medical setting? . . . We don't know and Homeland Security won't tell us."

Asked if residents were panicking, Sanchez said, "I wouldn't use the word 'panic.' "

But she said: "We are not getting official numbers from the Department of Homeland Security, and perhaps that is the greatest problem. If they would be a bit more transparent with us, then we could help to dispel some of these rumors, but when there is no information coming, then people do jump to conclusions."

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