For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 25, 2021
Daniel Barrera, dbarrera@organizetexas, 214-957-6234
Carolina Canizales, firstname.lastname@example.org, 210-209-1740
Immigrant Rights groups welcome migrant children, demand Bexar County leaders implement a humane, community-centered model
SAN ANTONIO — For too long the City of San Antonio has been a passing place for thousands of migrants who are seeking humanitarian relief in this country. Yet, neither community members nor local groups have had a say on how these people should be housed and treated during their stay.
“This time must be different. We cannot detain children and repeat the same mistakes made by previous administrations,” said Carolina Canizales of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “Children must be welcomed and housed in small, home-like spaces that prioritize their needs and never deprive them of their rights or liberty.”
Local immigrant rights groups are disappointed in the federal government’s decision to house some children at Lackland Air Force Base. Today, they demand that Bexar County Judge Wolf and Commissioners develop a community-centered model — one in which these children who have endured traumatic conditions can feel safe, have their basic needs met, have a restful stay, and not sleep on the floor of a crowded Freeman Coliseum. One where they have their own room and are not confined to it, while checking in and remaining in close contact with a quality, trained social worker.
“This housing accommodation should also be accessible to or near all of the services that the children will need — food, clothing, a cell phone to remain in contact with social workers, legal, and health services. All services must be provided at no cost to the children,” said Jessica Azua of Texas Organizing Project. “To make this reality, Bexar County must partner with the numerous local groups and service providers who are willing and qualified to support. This would be a community-driven response in action.”
The groups believe the only acceptable outcomes for these children are a speedy release and family reunification. For those who are unaccompanied, Bexar County leaders must demand that the federal government avoid placing children in deportation proceedings and instead ask that DHS promptly place them in foster homes and ensure legal representation so they can pursue status in the U.S.
Although it is a temporary stay, it is important for Bexar County to do everything in their power to not prolong trauma or inflict harm on the children during this process. Bexar County officials must put in the work for this model to have a chance, and for there to be strict oversight of any third-party contractors who are interacting with the children. For many years, the community has made it clear it does not trust entities like BCFS or VisionQuest, and they must not play a role in this situation.