AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting Friday, the City of Austin is working to help get asylum seekers to the airport so that they can fly to destinations elsewhere in the U.S. San Antonio asked for Austin’s help after seeing an influx of asylum seekers coming to its city during their journey.

Between 40 and 120 asylum seekers could come to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport each day from San Antonio on charter buses, after first being processed at San Antonio’s Centro de Bienvenida/Migrant Resource Center, according to a release from the City of Austin. Before going to AUS, they’ll stop at a Transportation Assistance Center to confirm their documentation and boarding passes.

“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,” the City of Austin said in a press release.

Asylum seekers can come to the United States for any number of reasons, including persecution for their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group or political opinion. There’s an extensive process they must go through to apply and be given documentation and permission to be in the U.S., which the American Immigration Council outlines on its website. Those people have sponsors, who often are not in the same place where they claim asylum, and so this effort is helping them get there.

  • bus at airport
  • woman in line
  • people get on a bus
  • bus full of asylum seekers

What does this mean for Austinites?

San Antonio and Austin are “effectively serving as a pass-through point” for people seeking flights to where their sponsors live, the release said.

Austin said its involvement will help it streamline operations at the airport and reduce any impacts to traffic for Austinites. It said it didn’t expect there to be more flights at the airport because of this.

Asylum-seekers are not expected to spend time in Austin overnight.

Austin said it plans to ask the federal government to fully reimburse it for its efforts.

Where are the asylum seekers coming from?

After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring asylum and going through that process, Customs and Border Protection releases those seeking asylum from custody. Many are connected with nonprofits who help them get to transportation hubs like San Antonio.

More than 365,000 asylum seekers have passed through San Antonio since January 2021, a release from the city said. In December, an average of 1,206 people arrived each day, although it said more than 1,800 would come some days.