Habla Usted Espanol is a phrase that has been heard around bilingual San Antonio for centuries, but now a new question is being asked today. Parlez-vouz Francais?
News Radio 1200 WOAI reports that French speakers are being sought to help with an influx of immigrants from Central Africa who have been flooding into Texas in the Eagle Pass area over the past week.
Many of the immigrants are being settled in temporary shelters at two San Antonio shelters, including the Frank Garrett Multi Service Center on Northwest 18th Street on the west side, which was pressed into service recently to handle an influx of immigrants from Central America where were brought to San Antonio by the Border Patrol.
The difference is that many Central American immigrants have relatives in the U.S. or at least have a community in this country where they can go to assilimate while they are awaiting their immigration hearings. For Central Americans, their ultimate destination is usually the east or west coast or south Florida, where there are large Guatemalan and Salvadoran communities.
But these new arrivals from Central Africa have no relatives, no communities of note, and no place to go. Officials say many will have to remain at the Garrett Center until their immigration hearings.
As many of the newcomers are Muslims, local Islamic centers and groups are also pitching in to help.