El Paso grapples with surge of migrants, braces for more

Dec 15, 2022, 1:43 AM | Updated: 4:49 pm
Migrants wait to get into a U.S. government bus after crossing the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexic...

Migrants wait to get into a U.S. government bus after crossing the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022. According to the Ciudad Juarez Human Rights Office, hundreds of mostly Central American migrants arrived in buses and crossed the border to seek asylum in the US, after spending the night in shelters. (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

(AP Photo/Christian Chavez)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in El Paso, Texas, described a humanitarian crisis Thursday as they grapple with the daily release of roughly 1,600 migrants to local shelters and the streets of the border city amid preparations for even larger flows if Trump-era asylum restrictions end next week as scheduled.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser told a news conference that the city is distributing outdoor toilets and water stations as it offers overnight hotel rooms to migrants, whose numbers are exceeding capacity at a county reception facility and the region’s network of shelters with nonprofit and faith-based groups.

The Department of Homeland Security is indicating it may release more migrants into the United States when Trump-era asylum restrictions end next week, with local government and border officials warning of immigrants waiting to cross into the U.S. Under current restrictions, migrants have been denied rights to seek asylum more than 2.5 million times on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

El Paso in recent days has witnessed hundreds of migrants wading across shallows waters of the Rio Grande into the U.S., forming lines along a border wall to approach immigration authorities and request refuge. City officials fear the asylum-rule change could double local migrant crossings, estimated at roughly 2,500 migrants a day over the past week.

Fernando Garcia, director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said migrants currently perceive Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, as a relatively secure place to approach the border amid dangers in Mexico of extortion and organized crime.

The City of El Paso announced Wednesday it received a new $6 million commitment to underwrite its migrant response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This funding and shelter is not the answer, it’s a Band-Aid to really a bigger problem,” said Leeser, a Democrat elected in 2020. “It’s something we’re going to have to work with the (United Nations) and other countries, to work through a situation … that’s again is bigger than El Paso and that now has become bigger than the United States.”

Mario D’Agostino, a deputy city manager leading the emergency response, said the sheer number of migrants is straining not only local staff but also U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“They’re working long hours, day and night, they’re doing processing rather than their primary function of securing the border,” he said.

City officials say that most of the migrants released in recent days by federal immigration authorities have some financial means or sponsors in the U.S. to pay for transportation to communities in the U.S. interior. But he said the city is bracing for an even larger surge in asylum-seeking migrants that may not have resources for further travel.

The city recently disbanded its aid and communications center for migrants, while suspending a busing program that delivered thousands of mostly Venezuelan migrants to Chicago and New York in September and October.

D’Agostino outlined a new strategy that might ferry migrants to large, nearby transportation hubs, such as Dallas, Denver and Phoenix. He said federal immigration authorities are preparing to possibly process and directly release migrants at a bridge that connects Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso.

The city’s response to surges in migration numbers stands in contrast to border-security efforts by Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, who has deployed troops to the border and gotten attention for busing migrants to faraway Democratic strongholds.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Paul Njoroge, right, points to photos of his wife and three children that were killed in the 2019 c...
Associated Press

Boeing pleads not guilty in case over deadly Max crashes

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Boeing pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge that it misled regulators who approved its 737 Max, the plane that was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people. Family members of passengers who died gave emotional testimony, calling for criminal prosecution of top Boeing officials. The families are trying […]
18 hours ago
abortion Capital gains tax Olympia meeting legislature abortion...
Associated Press

Washington lawmakers hear testimony on 7 abortion bills

Abortion rights proposals have been front and center in Olympia, Washington, this week as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals that would reinforce abortion access.
18 hours ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Justices weigh effort to balance Washington state’s tax code

SEATTLE (AP) — An effort to balance what is considered the nation’s most regressive state tax code came before the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday, with justices hearing arguments about whether they should overturn a prohibition on income taxes that dates to the 1930s. Washington is one of nine states without an income tax, and […]
18 hours ago
FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file photo, fountains erupt along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas. A...
Associated Press

Lawsuit: Vegas Strip resorts used vendor to fix hotel rates

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A federal lawsuit in Nevada is seeking class-action damages for countless hotel patrons who booked rooms in Las Vegas since 2019, alleging that most hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have used a third-party vendor to illegally fix prices. The complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas alleges […]
18 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Associated Press

Police: Oregon fugitive kidnapped woman like 2019 Vegas case

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Police in southern Oregon were searching Thursday for a man accused of torturing a woman he held captive less than two years after he was convicted in Nevada of critically injuring another woman he held captive for two weeks. Police Chief Warren Hensman, of Grants Pass, Oregon, said in a telephone […]
18 hours ago
Brittany Lampkin of Yazoo County, extolls the Mississippi Black Women's Roundtable legislative agen...
Associated Press

Maternal deaths and disparities increase in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Deaths from pregnancy complications have become more prevalent in Mississippi, and racial disparities in the health of those who give birth have widened in recent years, according to a report released Thursday by the state’s Department of Health. The Mississippi Maternal Mortality Report shows that the maternal mortality rate increased by […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
El Paso grapples with surge of migrants, braces for more