See link to BRoll and stills taken earlier today in San Antonio and Austin (Credit: ATXN and TVSA). HSEM Director Ortiz will be providing an on-camera media availability at 4:00 p.m. at CTECC today. RSVP to email@example.com to attend.
This assistance, which begins today, has been developed in partnership with the City of San Antonio, which has recently experienced significant fluctuations in the number of people seeking travel from San Antonio. It is important to note that the asylum seekers are legally permitted to move throughout the country, and this partnership is designed to ensure their transit is done in a humane and efficient manner.
“Austin stands ready to support our neighbors in San Antonio as well as those individuals seeking asylum in the United States,” said Juan Ortiz, Director of the City of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “We have a longstanding partnership with San Antonio, and this is our opportunity to return the support they provided us in previous situations. Our goal is to support our neighboring cities, help asylum seekers be able to reach their sponsor destinations safely and with dignity, while also maintaining a busy airport and capacity to continue to respond to local emergency needs.”
This effort, for which the City will seek full reimbursement from the federal government, which is currently reimbursing San Antonio and other U.S. cities that are expending resources to assist asylum seekers, will support people whose asylum claims have completed initial processing and who are pre-booked for air travel to connect with flights out of the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) as they make their way to their destinations in the United States. Support for air travel will only be available to those people who have been processed by the City of San Antonio’s Centro de Bienvenida / Migrant Resource Center. While assisting people in need is consistent with Austin values, a specific benefit to our local community for this effort is to proactively manage the flow of people coming into AUS so that we can efficiently manage resources and minimize the impacts to traffic.
The assistance is designed to provide a humane and effective way of relieving some of the pressures on San Antonio and help people reach their sponsor destinations in a timely and safe manner. Austin and AUS are effectively serving as a pass-through point for guests coming from the border area who need air transport to their sponsors’ destinations.
“Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is proud to be part of this multi-city collaboration,” said Jacqueline Yaft, Chief Executive Officer of AUS. “Being part of a team that is providing humanitarian assistance to people in need fulfills the goals of our organization and our City of Austin values. The airport will continue to work with the City of Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to support this important effort for as long as needed.”
The City's efforts will ensure it retains optimum control over the process, and the number of individuals coming through Austin, as they make their way to other destinations.
Austin anticipates up to 120 asylum seekers will be arriving on buses from San Antonio each operating day to make a pit stop at a Transportation Assistance Center in the City to confirm their documentation before being taken to AUS to board their pre-booked flights. This is to ensure effective use of staff resources and that airport operations continue to run efficiently utilizing existing airline capacity. There are no increased flights or airline activity due to this operation.
Asylum seekers are released by Customs and Border Protection by border cities and transported to San Antonio and other transportation hubs. They need to find their way to their sponsors, many of whom are in distant states.
Catholic Charities of San Antonio will also be providing the City of Austin with a 24/7 phone helpline for assistance in rebooking asylum seekers who have delayed/missed flights.
What is happening?
Beginning as soon as January 13, 2023, the partnership between the City of Austin and San Antonio will begin to help arrange transportation from the Centro de Bienvenida / San Antonio Migrant Resource Center to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) for migrant passengers who have plane tickets to travel to their intended destinations within the United States. SAT will also continue to receive migrant passengers daily.
Why is this partnership happening now?
Since January 2021, the City of San Antonio has served more than 365,000 asylum seekers legally transiting through San Antonio en route to their host city destinations across the country. In December 2022, San Antonio had a daily average of 1,206 arrivals with some days exceeding over 1,800.
Arriving asylum seekers are being directly transported from non-profit partners from border cities after they are released from U.S. Customs & Border Protection or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. San Antonio serves as the nearest major transportation hub to these communities that can assist asylum seekers in completing onward travel.
The City of San Antonio’s Centro de Bienvenida / Migrant Resource Center opened in July 2022 as a safe and welcoming place for asylum seekers traveling through San Antonio to their intended destination in the United States. Catholic Charities of San Antonio manages operations of the center in strong partnership with the City and local non-profits. Since July, San Antonio has served over 120,000 asylum seekers.
What resources will people arriving at the Austin Airport have?
Who are the people seeking asylum?
Where are people seeking asylum coming from?
Will asylum seekers stay overnight in Austin?
How long will this initiative last?
Who is paying for this?
How will this impact traffic at the airport?
How many people will be transported from San Antonio to the Austin Airport?
What happens if flights get canceled?
How is the Airport handling an influx of asylum-seeking travelers?
What other services are being provided to the people seeking asylum by the City of Austin?