Catholic Charities SA president supports City of San Antonio to use local funds if federal dollars run out to assist migrants

Additional cuts in personnel are on the horizon at the Migrant Resource Center starting May 1 when the non-profit is expected to see a big decline in funding.

SAN ANTONIO — As millions of federal dollars to care for migrants gradually runs out, the head of Catholic Charities San Antonio is hoping city leaders consider preparing for the use of local funds so no asylum seeker is left out on the streets.  

The renewed conversation about federal funding follows Congress’s February attempt to pass a $118 billion bipartisan package that would have bolstered border security and financially aided city governments with assisting migrants. 

“I would believe that yes, the city should provide funding for them. Again, to the people who are moving to another state or another city, maybe not. But there’s going to be lot of people who stay here in San Antonio,” said Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities in San Antonio. 

Fernandez worries about the possibility of migrants and their families ending up homeless if federal funds dry up. 

More than 600,000 migrants have come to the Alamo City since 2021, according to city officials. 

In 2022, the Migrant Resource Center opened alongside Catholic Charities as a temporary hub for those seeking a variety of services, including food, shelter and transportation, as they make their way to their final destinations across the U.S. 

Since January 2024, new migrant arrival in San Antonio have dropped from more than 8,000 in one month to nearly 3,500 as of March 15.  

Fernandez said while cuts in personnel have already been made as of January, additional cuts may be warranted depending on what happens with funding. He noted starting May 1, Catholic Charities may experience a significant decline in funding. 

“Since 2014, we’re working to help the immigrants coming through San Antonio and we always see a spike in the months of April and May,” Fernandez said. “The most important thing that’s my biggest concern is that at 7 p.m. we’ll close the gate and people won’t be allowed to come in until 7 o’clock in the morning the following day because we don’t have intake, we don’t have the security personnel.” 

The San Antonio City Council recently discussed the possibility of using local funds in the event the remaining $10.5 million.  

District 10 City Councilman Marc Whyte expressed opposition to the idea of using local funds to continue assisting migrants. Meanwhile, District 9 Councilman John Courage was more open to the idea of accepting that taxpayer dollars may be the only route. 

The city has yet to take action but discussed potentially reallocating certain federal funding sources. 

Fernandez stressed it’s a humanitarian issue that must be addressed and acted upon regardless of what Washington lawmakers decide.

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