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McAllen Honors Commissioner Ever Villarreal for Key Role in Immigration Efforts

Proclaims February 12, 2024, As His Day

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Mayor Javier Villalobos of McAllen is presenting the proclamation recognizing Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo "Ever" Villarreal. The ceremony occurred in the meeting room of the McAllen City Commissioners. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
Mayor Javier Villalobos of McAllen is presenting the proclamation recognizing Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo “Ever” Villarreal. The ceremony occurred in the meeting room of the McAllen City Commissioners. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
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By Roberto Hugo González

Feb 12, 2024–In McAllen, Texas, a city known for its vibrant community and dynamic culture, immigration has been a central issue for over a decade. During the City’s regular meeting, Mayor Javier Villalobos, in a heartfelt acknowledgment, highlighted the city’s long-standing battle with immigration issues and the collaboration efforts that have been made to address them. Under his leadership and with the support of community figures like Sister Pimentel and Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everard Villarreal, McAllen has navigated through these challenges with flexibility and innovation.

During this significant event, Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo “Ever” Villarreal was accompanied by McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, along with Villarreal’s wife, Ruth, and his daughter, Valeria, who stood by his side. Photo by Roberto Hugo González

Mayor Villalobos reflected on the journey McAllen has undergone, dealing with the complexities of immigration regardless of legal status, focusing primarily on public safety and community well-being. He recalled the critical moments two years ago when they were in a meeting and got a call from Sister Pimentel of the Catholic Charities Center that they couldn’t handle it anymore and needed the City’s help. “And I don’t know if you all remember, it’s when we had to erect a tent on 23rd Street.”

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Villalobos said, “The community was in uproar, but we had to do something. That night, we were at a commission meeting, and I remember discussing what we could do.” The City established a temporary tent on 23rd Street on an eight-acre tract of land. Recently, McAllen celebrated the completion of the new City of McAllen Parks & Recreation Department headquarters building on that same land. The subsequent meeting led to a phone call to Commissioner Villarreal to request his help for the utilization of Anzalduas Park.

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The partnership with Commissioner Villarreal was crucial during a moment of crisis when McAllen sought to house COVID-19-positive immigrants securely. Commissioner Villarreal immediately responded, “We’ll do whatever we need to do.” This collaboration resulted in the transformation of Anzalduas Park into a facility that served as a temporary housing solution and as a site visited by officials from various levels of government, showcasing McAllen’s efforts on a global stage.

The City of McAllen has been dealing with immigration influx first-hand since June 14, 2014, and has seen over 560,000 immigrants pass through the city since that time. Since the opening of the Anzalduas Park facility in August of 2021, over 230,000 immigrants have passed through the McAllen area, with over 64,000 of those processing through the Anzaldua’s Park facility, allowing for more efficient processing of immigrants in a way that benefits all of Hidalgo County. These numbers reflect the scale of McAllen’s commitment to managing immigration effectively and humanely, ensuring that residents’ and immigrants’ health and safety are prioritized.

Commissioner Villarreal’s role in facilitating the use of Anzalduas Park and coordinating with multiple county departments has been instrumental in this process. His leadership and the collaborative work of Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, Emergency Management, Parks, Sheriff’s Office, and Parks Departments have been crucial in maintaining the operational efficiency and safety of the facility.

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In recognition of Commissioner Villarreal’s contributions and the effort of McAllen’s leadership and community partners, Mayor Villalobos proclaimed February 12, 2024, as “Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo ‘Ever’ Villarreal Day.” This proclamation demonstrates the city’s gratitude and is a reminder of the importance of community solidarity in facing complex challenges.

McAllen’s story of dealing with immigration is a narrative of courage, collaboration, and community. It highlights how leadership, when combined with a willingness to act decisively and in collaboration, can navigate the complexities of immigration, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and unity. The city’s ongoing efforts to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of all its residents while respecting the dignity and needs of immigrants set a commendable example for other cities facing similar challenges.

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