Darling pens letter to Cornyn, Cruz asking for immigration assistance

Missio mayor Armando O'Caña, right, and McAllen mayor Jim Darling greet Donald Trump on Thursday, Jan.10, 2018, in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

McALLEN — Mayor Jim Darling has sent a letter addressed to U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz urging the federal government to assist the city with the current “humanitarian crisis” that has unfolded in McAllen, which “has reached the point where the strain on our resources to deal with it is not sustainable.”

“It is not appropriate to have this burden fall on the taxpayers of one community, the City of McAllen, when it is actually a situation caused by the federal government’s laws and policies,” Darling wrote.

Since 2014, Darling noted, federal authorities have been dropping off immigrants who cross the southern border in McAllen, which has had to figure out how to temporarily house tens of thousands of migrants arriving in its city limits over the last five years. The city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2014 to help accommodate the immigrants temporarily.

But in recent weeks, authorities have been dropping off hundreds of immigrants in McAllen every day, leading to overflowing nonprofit facilities. A couple of weeks into these mass releases by federal authorities that have overwhelmed cities and nonprofit organizations along the entire southern border, in March, McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez met with both Cornyn and Cruz after an event the three attended in Sarita.

Along with Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, the group huddled in a circle with a couple additional staffers for about 10 minutes. Rodriguez and Guerra did most of the talking. Cornyn and Cruz asked Rodriguez to send them a formal letter outlining what he had just discussed so the senators could use the letter in attempts to assist.

The letter-writing duties were left to Darling, who called the current situation “a humanitarian crisis that requires the cooperation of all levels of government, and should not be shouldered by the taxpayers of the City of McAllen alone,” Darling wrote.

On Monday, at the end of the regularly scheduled city commission meeting, Darling also spoke about the state of immigration in McAllen.

“We can get into debates about what it is or isn’t,” Darling said at the meeting, adding that the situation in McAllen clearly indicates a humanitarian crisis at the immigrant respite center near the corner of Hackberry Avenue and Second Street.

In order to deal with that, though, Darling said in the letter that the city needs help from its representatives in Washington.

“I am respectfully requesting your assistance in locating and securing financial reimbursement for the City of McAllen in this time of humanitarian crisis, along with any other resources that may be available to us,” Darling wrote.