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Freeman Coliseum to house migrant children: What we know about their arrival

The contract to house unaccompanied migrant children at the Freeman Coliseum will be short-term. Local leaders gave additional information about what's ahead.

SAN ANTONIO — The contract to house unaccompanied migrant children at the Freeman Coliseum will be short-term, according to local leaders who provided additional information about the process hours after officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the development.  

The statement from HHS read, in part: 

“A COVID-19 health screening protocol for all children will be implemented to follow CDC guidelines for preventing and controlling communicable diseases. Services will be provided by a combination of contractors, and federal staff.”

At Thursday night's coronavirus response briefing, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebecca Clay-Flores and Metro Health Medical Director Dr. Junda Woo answered questions about the upcoming arrival of migrant children at the east-side stadium. 

Clay-Flores said negotiations are still underway to finalize the county’s contract with the federal government. She said the contract will be short-term. At this time, they do not have a date on the childrens' arrival, but more information will likely be provided Friday. 

Woo said, hypothetically, Metro Health could assist in quarantine, isolation and vaccinations.

Catholic Charities said FEMA was considering the Nix Medical Center downtown as a third location to intake children. But Nirenberg said that, as of Thursday evening, the only facilities vetted in San Antonio to house children have been the Freeman Coliseum and JBSA-Lackland.

During the briefing, the mayor voiced his opinion about the upcoming arrival of the migrant children.   

“Some things ought to transcend politics. We’re talking about a human tragedy that’s occurring on the border (that) we’ve seen before—time and again, actually. And the city has been put in the position of having to deal with the crisis,” Nirenberg said. “What we hope is that in dealing and responding to what is, again, a humanitarian crisis, that these children, again, are treated with the utmost compassion and care.”

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar has been vocally opposed to the county's decision to negotiate a contract with HHS. He previously expressed to County Judge Nelson Wolff and county commissioners that BCSO doesn’t have enough manpower to handle security. 

On Thursday, Salazar told KENS 5 that some community members have supported his stance.

“They said, 'Look, it's a no-brainer. Why would you want to get involved in something like that?' I hope nothing but good things happen with these kids. I hope there’s a happy ending for them and for their families, but just that process in the meantime—I don’t see any good coming out of it,” Salazar said. “God forbid a crime happens with one of these children or one of them is injured and one of my deputies is called in to take a report. Absolutely, we (have) still got a job to do. I just don’t want to be involved in the detention of these children.”

Bexar County leaders said federal officials will be responsible for security. HHS officials, meanwhile, said they will ensure the children are provided clean and comfortable sleeping quarters, meals, toiletries, laundry and access to medical services. 


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