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Multiple San Antonio facilities could soon provide temporary shelter for migrants amid 'human tragedy' at border

Conversations are ongoing regarding the use of multiple community spaces to temporarily house some of those crossing into Texas.

SAN ANTONIO — The crisis at the border is stretching to San Antonio. 

KENS 5 has learned two local facilities may soon house migrants while the number of border crossings in south Texas continues to rise.  

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he was on the phone Tuesday with federal agencies about using Freeman Coliseum as one such site. The judge called it a humanitarian effort.

Meanwhile, our military could be stepping up too. The Department of Defense said a request has been made to house migrants at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland.

"I would certainly support it," Wolff said. "We are dealing with children. Everybody can have their own opinion about immigration and who should be allowed in the country. but we are dealing with young children."

Wolff said he's in talks with FEMA officials about using the more-than-32,000-square-foot county facility. He said Freeman is ideal because it's large and climate-controlled.

"We are talking about how to handle the security," he said. "Who would be the food provider, who would be managing the place."

He added no agreement has been reached with the federal government as of Tuesday evening, but they're talking about a possible contract.

"It is a humanitarian effort," he said. "It is not a permanent solution. I think we talked to them about (housing migrants for) up to 60 days."

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, meanwhile, said the Department of Defense has been asked to house migrants at a vacant dorm at Lackland Air Force Base, which has welcome migrants. It also was used as a quarantine site for coronavirus evacuees at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Federal officials did come down last week for a site visit.

"What we are seeing on the border, like we have seen before, is an incredible human tragedy," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. "My hope is what happens forward is treated with the utmost compassion and care."

Nirenberg said, if needed, the city will help the county in providing any type of assistance.

As for Lackland, no decision has been made to house the unaccompanied minor children. Officials also couldn't comment on how many could be coming. A spokesperson did say that, if this happens, regular military training and operations would not be affected.

As for the Freeman, Wolff expects a decision in the coming days. He said if a contract is signed, migrants could be coming here as early as next week.