The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to release possibly 5,600 immigrants, many of them complete families, across the Rio Grande Valley.
The move will strain all the communities affected, and city officials must do their part to mitigate potential problems.
Brownsville City Manager Noel Bernal said officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection gave him that estimate of immigrants who will be brought to Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen over the next few days.
The government began bringing them to the area last week. That’s when officials said they couldn’t handle the number of people who have come to this country recently, and they no longer could enforce President Donald Trump’s order that they all be incarcerated.
They now are being released after being given hearing dates in federal immigration courts.
Volunteers all across the Valley have stepped up admirably to help the migrants since the initial surge of Central American refugees began arriving nearly three years ago.
Shelters such as Loaves and Fishes in Harlingen and Good Neighbor Settlement House have taken in and assisted as many as possible.
They and local churches are trying to meet the immigrants’ immediate needs and help them find and reach relatives and sponsors across the country who can house them until their immigration cases are adjudicated.
Such facilities, however, are being overwhelmed by the numbers of people and families in need, and local officials must be proactive rather than reactive in providing their own assistance.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling has received some criticism since he pledged last month that the city would help Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley find a suitable place to receive and assist the immigrants.
Critics have suggested that isn’t the city’s job, and taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be spent on such efforts.
However, cities can’t escape the need to address the immigrants’ needs.