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Bexar Co. considering use of Freeman Coliseum as overflow site amid surge in border crossings

Other major cities in Texas are responding to the crisis as well.

SAN ANTONIO — As Texas leaders continue contending with a reported surge in crossings at the southern border, as well as an influx in unaccompanied minors and human-smuggling operations, Bexar County leaders are considering the possibility of using Freeman Coliseum as an overflow site for an undetermined number of migrants—possibly as early as next week. 

"No agreement has been reached yet, but we do have facilities there. They're climate-controlled, they're large," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said at Tuesday's daily coronavirus response briefing, who gestured his general support for the potential move. "But we're talking about who would handle security, who would be the food provider, who would handle the place. We're talking about a possible contract if indeed that moves forward."

Wolff said those conversations are primarily behind held with health authorities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said he expects a final decision to be made in the next few days. 

Housing locations have popped up in Pecos, Dallas, and elsewhere in the Lone Star State as south Texas authorities say their resources are being stretched thin and facilities have been overwhelmed. Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding answers on what he said was a "humanitarian crisis" unfolding at the border. Meanwhile, Lackland Air Force Base could house some unaccompanied migrant children, if the Pentagon approves a new request from the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The Alamo City has provided resources to migrants before. As recently as the summer of 2019, the city opened a temporary shelter run by employees and volunteers at a vacant building to provide shelter and guidance. 

At Tuesday's briefing, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the city would be prepared to provide assistance to the county, should that help be requested. 

"What's happening on the border, as we've seen before, is just an incredible human tragedy," Nirenberg said. "My hope is that what happens going forward is treated with the utmost compassion and care."