San Antonio city officials recently said more than 600,000 migrants seeking asylum have been processed and legally released from the Texas/Mexico border and traveled through San Antonio since January 2021.

Current situation

City staff briefed City Council on March 7 on the handling of migrants locally, including operations at the city’s Migrant Resource Center on San Pedro Avenue in the north central side of town.

City officials said, with San Antonio being the nearest transportation hub for border cities and federal detention facilities, it makes sense for them to see a constantly high number of migrants cross through town each month.

According to city data, monthly migrant arrivals ranged between 20,000 and 25,000 between July and December 2023. However, some of those months had lower numbers than months when the city had as many as 30,000-plus monthly arrivals, such as what happened in late 2022.

City officials said 32.3% of migrants arriving in San Antonio hail from Venezuela, which despite having some of the world’s biggest oil deposits, has been a scene of economic collapse, record inflation, shortages of basic goods, unemployment and crime, according to media reports there.

City officials said the Migrant Resource Center opened in July 2023 at a former CPS Energy facility in the Shearer Hills/Ridgeview neighborhood as a means to streamline partner agency efforts and minimize disruption and congestion at the San Antonio International Airport and around downtown.

Partner organizations include Catholic Charities, which maintains the center on a daily basis, San Antonio Food Bank, and Interfaith Welcome Coalition.

A closer look

Since the opening of the center, staff and volunteers have helped more than 280,200 migrants through February 2024.

The federal government has directed more than $121 million to the city and local partner organizations to help with daily center operations.

But city officials said their local government has only $10.5 million left to spend on the center, and expects to run out of available money for center operations by September. Additionally, Catholic Charities will exhaust its funding for the center functions by December. Local officials said using some city reserve funds could be an option going forward.

Local officials said they have requested an additional $57.5 million in federal aid to help migrants at the center through December.

Police Chief William McManus said, despite concerns voiced by neighboring residents and business owners, no major incidents have occurred at the Migrant Resource Center, where San Antonio police officers provide security around the clock.

McManus added that six arrests have thus far been recorded at the center, with half of those being San Antonio residents detained for things such as public intoxication.

McManus also said the center’s operations has not increased crime in the area immediately surrounding the facility.

What they’re saying

City leaders said they hope local partners with secure more federal funding for the Migrant Resource Center, and that they will ask federal leaders to develop a comprehensive package to address legal immigration pathways and related issues.

District 1 council member Sukh Kaur, who represents the area, applauded neighbors for their patience and understanding.

"I am heartened by the residents’ continued compassion and am committed to resolving the concerns they have reporte,” Kaur said in a statement.

District 10 council member Marc Whyte said most migrants traversing San Antonio are good people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, but disagreed with the possibility of using the city’s general fund money to support center operations.

“Our citizens expect their tax dollars to be used on San Antonians, and we must prioritize our people over all others. I do not want to see us get ourselves into a situation where our basic city services will be compromised because we are funding migrant services here in our city,” he said in a statement.