Annunciation House asking gov. agencies for better communication when releasing migrants

    More than 200 immigrants spent the first hours of Christmas Eve at a Greyhound bus station in downtown El Paso after they were reportedly dropped off by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Sunday night.

    Annunciation House, the nonprofit that has been organizing shelters to take in immigrants released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, hold a press conference on Thursday.

    Annunciation House says they were unaware that ICE was going to conduct the release this past weekend.

    Annunciation House was set to receive 200 immigrants from ICE Sunday, but ICE then dropped off an additional 200 immigrants at the downtown El Paso Greyhound station Sunday night.

    Local volunteers scrambled to try to get them somewhere to stay out of the cold. By around 2 a.m. Monday, city buses started transporting immigrants to shelters.

    The immigrants have all been processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and were released with court documents to present themselves before an immigration judge on a specific date.

    Annunciation House said they had to book four hotels to house some of the migrants. Ruben Garcia the director of Annunciation House said the total cost to book those hotels was of $150,000. Garcia said it was paid thanks to the donations they've received.

    Garcia said Annunciation House typically has a communication with ICE when they have releases. But he said that was not the case this weekend.

    Annunciation House says they are working with 15 different hospitality sites in El Paso and 5 in Las Cruces.

    Annunciation House says the number of families released has increased in the past few months.

    Garcia said it’s unacceptable for families with children, especially young children to be released to the streets.

    ICE said in a statement earlier this week that families were being released to ensure they’re not in custody longer than the time permitted by government standards.

    Local representatives, including Beto O’Rourke, have called out the federal agency for “dropping the ball” and not alerting Annunciation House about the continued releases throughout the week.

    Annunciation House received 200 immigrants on Sunday and an additional 214 people were dropped off at the downtown bus station.

    On Monday, another 200 immigrants were dropped off reportedly without notice from ICE.

    On Tuesday, another 186 people were released, but this time volunteers were ready and waiting with food.

    Wednesday, ICE dropped off 518 immigrants directly to shelters organized by Annunciation House located across the Borderland, from Mesilla to Las Cruces to El Paso.

    In total, around 1,300 immigrants were released this week.

    You can watch the replay of the press conference:

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