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Central Texans anticipate influx of undocumented immigrants

Posted at 10:49 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 23:49:56-04

WACO, TX — Thousands of undocumented immigrants are crossing into the Texas border every day, a number that Governor Greg Abbott says will only get bigger.

So what's being done in Central Texas in anticipation of a surge of migrants?

"The problem is the governor doesn't know what to do with them. Are we gonna send them back? Are we gonna keep them? What are we gonna do?" said Juan Rivera, president of the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce in Bell County. "We should've never opened the border. I got a feeling that the whole, Texas as a whole, we gonna be into this for a little while, and every county is going to have to work together."

In Dallas, 3,000 migrant teens are being held in a convention center. U.S. officials reported more that 100,000 undocumented people at the U.S.-Mexico border in February alone.

"These are people who want to get established and contribute to our communities, and just want a safe space for their children to grow up and build businesses," said Hope Balfa-Mustakim, executive director with the Waco Immigrants Alliance.

Mustakim is asking the City of Waco to start taking preventative action so undocumented people who end up calling Central Texas home don't end up on the wrong tracks.

"Those families who don't have safe housing are super vulnerable to trafficking, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, just needing a place to stay. They might be susceptible to people who don't have good intentions," she said.

Last year a proposed immigration detention center in East Waco for teenage boys was shot down, citing safety concerns.

"This company had a long history of abuse and neglect even with children, and so that was something that the City and the community didn't want to happen in East Waco or anywhere in Waco," said Mustakim,

Mustakim wants to establish safe spaces where local organizations, like the Waco Immigrants Alliance, can oversee operations and uphold accountability.

"Waco is a really great place where we want to serve and help and we believe in people's potential and how much they want to give back," said Mustakim.

Waco Mayor Dillon Meek says city officials are open to starting a conversation on how to handle undocumented migrants in Waco.