The Associated Press has reported that California is preparing to spend as much as $28 million not on COVID relief but to help illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
The funding comes as Biden ends former President Donald Trump’s policy of having asylum-seekers wait in Mexico until their court hearings. It will be used, among other things, to pay for hotel rooms where immigrants are expected to quarantine.
The money will also be going to a non-profit, that provides necessities and services to immigrants, Jewish Family Service of San Diego. The State of California will fund health services, including COVID-19 testing.
On his first day in office, Biden suspended Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program. An estimated 26,000 people with active cases will now be allowed into the U.S.
Arizona and Texas have emerged as the states most negatively impacted by Biden’s immigration policies. Texas successfully sued to block Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations.
Planning for such an impact, Texas and Arizona signed agreements with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Trump’s final days hoping to delay such changes. The Biden administration rejected them.
“There’s no plan of action once Border Patrol releases migrants in city centers from being detained,” Bruno Lozano, mayor of the South Texas city of Del Rio, said in an interview.
Lozano posted a YouTube video last week calling on the Biden administration to stop releasing migrants during the unusually severe winter storm that ravaged Texas, knocking out power and water for several days in many cities. The Border Patrol resumed releasing migrants in Del Rio on February 20.
Lozano said Friday that border agents have resumed releasing people in Del Rio and nearby cities. He noted that nonprofit groups provide cellphones, food and clothing to people leaving border custody and called on federal authorities to ramp up vaccinations in border communities or provide hotel rooms where migrants who test positive should quarantine.
In Yuma, Arizona, Mayor Douglas Nicholls estimated that by the end of Thursday, some 230 migrants, including many families with children, had been released since Feb. 15. Many are dropped at a Greyhound bus stop outside a discount store in a rural area.
Nicholls wants state and federal officials to transport migrants to larger cities with more infrastructure and resources, as the federal government did during Trump’s presidency.
Texas has sent 10,000 rapid COVID-19 tests to Brownsville for arriving migrants. City spokesman Felipe Romero says the tests are administered at the local bus station and anyone who tests positive is told to isolate.
In El Paso, the Annunciation House shelter is receiving 25 immigrants daily from the Remain in Mexico program. The shelter expects releases to double in the coming weeks and perhaps reach 75 a day by the end of March, director Ruben Garcia said.
California has already spent nearly $12 million on about 30,000 asylum-seekers at the border.