The border crisis in major Texas city has gone multilingual as border-crossing migrants from Africa are set to be released into the city of San Antonio.
Interim Assistant City Manager Dr. Collen Bridger told local CBS affiliate KENS on Thursday in a story that details how the city is now scrambling to find French-speaking volunteers to deal with the recent influx.
“We didn’t get a heads up,” Bridger told the outlet. “When we called Border Patrol to confirm, they said, ‘yea another 200 to 300 from the Congo and Angola will be coming to San Antonio.'”
Bridger told the news station that Congolese migrants began to arrive in the city on Tuesday. The migrants told local officials that they came with a group that went through Ecuador to the U.S. southern border. One of them told the news outlet that he came to the border to seek asylum and bring his family over from the Congo region.
And that large number of asylum seekers from Francophonic portions of the African continent has city officials on the lookout for anyone who can come help break down the language barrier and get them to their final destination.
“If you speak primarily French and can come spend 6,7,8 hours, that would be really helpful,” Bridger said.
San Antonio immigration liason Tino Gallegos told local ABC affiliate KSAT that the city needs French and Portuguese speakers to help with translation, but that they could also use the help of people who speak Lingala, a language spoken throughout the Congo region.
“If you speak Lingala, you’d be very, very welcomed and very, very needed,” Gallegos says.
The city opened a second migrant resource facility this week and has also been working with local churches and nonprofits to provide for the recent arrivals, the KSAT story details.
San Antonio’s language struggles follow news that immigration officials have seen a recent surge in border-crossing migrants from Africa.
Last week, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that 116 individuals were apprehended in an African caravan, including 35 from Angola, one from Cameroon, and 80 from Congo, which Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz said illustrates the now-global nature of the border crisis.
“The introduction of this new population places additional burdens on processing stations, to include language and cultural differences,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz in a CBP press statement on Wednesday. “Our agents continue to meet each new challenge as the ongoing humanitarian crisis evolves.”