BROWNSVILLE, Texas, July 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Communities in the Texas Rio Grande Valley are providing food, clothing, shelter, and emotional support to the thousands of unaccompanied children that have crossed the border in recent weeks, overwhelming the U.S. Border Patrol. Churches and community organizations have donated thousands of hours of volunteer time and provided a constant stream of supplies to food banks from Brownsville to Starr County.
"People from all over the valley are helping," said Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez. "That's the kind of communities we live in down here. We keep getting asked if this crisis has hurt our image or if businesses are worried about locating in the valley in the wake of this flow of Central American refugees. I think the exact opposite has happened. The rest of the U.S. is seeing the quality of the character of our citizens down here on the border."
Not all of the costs are being privately managed. McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, appearing on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopolous," said his city has spent more than $70,000 to provide assistance and he estimated costs may run as high as a half million before the situation is resolved. President Obama is asking congress for $2 billion dollars for emergency funding to assist federal agencies on the border, and the valley cities having to spend tax dollars.
Community response has been so widespread and critical that the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol Chief Kevin W. Oaks offered his thanks in an open letter to area citizens.
"Although the humanitarian crisis we are currently facing is straining local community resources," Oaks wrote, "your outpouring of support has continued to be both substantial and admirable. I wish to commend all of the organizations and individuals who have generously opened their hearts and donated their time -- as well as food, clothing, toiletries and other items -- to ease the suffering of these families. Additionally, the support we have received from our local law enforcement partners and consulate offices is worthy of praise. The incredible unity and strength I have witnessed in the Rio Grande Valley surpasses anything I've seen in my nearly 30 years of service in the Border Patrol. I'm honored to be part of such an exceptional community."
The U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing in McAllen, Texas on July 3 to examine the surge of border crossings by unaccompanied minors.
About RSTEC: An alliance of economic development corporations, public entities, and businesses, RSTEC seeks to foster a thriving economy, educational opportunities, and improved quality of life by promoting the Rio Grande Valley and attracting growth businesses to the border region to take advantage of an educated workforce and international markets.
Contact: James C. Moore
SOURCE Rio South Texas Economic Council