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El Paso 'disaster declaration' extended as Title 42 end looms

Migrants in El Paso at the border wall on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Credit: kFOX14/CBS4
Migrants in El Paso at the border wall on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Credit: kFOX14/CBS4
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Since last week, there have been 500 to 600 daily community releases to NGO's and to El Paso county's migrant support services center.

The city of El Paso extended its disaster declaration, which allows them to address the growing surge of arriving migrants.

Most of the migrants in Ciudad Juarez are not inside the shelters, Mayor Oscar Leeser said.

There are 10,000 to 15,000 migrants at the border in Mexico waiting to get into the U.S.

Leeser issued the Emergency Declaration on April 30.

On Monday, city council voted unanimously to extend the declaration.

The emergency declaration allows the city of El Paso put together its "emergency sheltering."

Bassett and Morehead middle school, which are not in use by El Paso Independent School District, are prepared to temporary house processed migrants.

It also allows the city of El Paso to activate its processing center along Railroad Drive in the northeast and supplemental transportation.

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Jorge Rodriguez, the Emergency Management Coordinator, said non-profit organizations are expanding capacity.

The County of El Paso's processing center is also expanding with a new facility.

"They [County of El Paso's processing center] have anywhere upwards to 1,000 to 1,200 daily capacity," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez listed the city's priorities Monday.

  • safety and welfare of the migrants, residents and businesses
  • travel processing
  • transportation
  • sheltering

In the last two weeks, the number of unprocessed migrants have grown dramatically, Rodriguez said.

He said undocumented individuals are gathering in places like Sacred Heart Church and the Opportunity Center in El Paso's downtown.

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"These large gatherings are a concern for us. As we saw in Brownsville, it's very easy for there to be bad actors that could potentially harm this population. We are concerned about the large numbers we saw last week. We saw two incursions there at the border; one group of about 250 and the following morning another group of about 150, all along the Border Highway. That's concerning," Rodriguez said.

On Saturday, Father Rahm Avenue was blocked off to the public with large plastic containers filled with water.

Rodriguez said they are working on a "mass casualty" plan.

The plan is expected to be finalized Monday or Tuesday.

"We are adapting those [mass casualty] and applying it to the downtown area and long stretch of Border Highway," Rodriguez said.

Undocumented migrants are choosing to stay on the street.

"They are seeking sanctuary at these church spaces or at these shelters [NGO and faith-based organizations]," Rodriguez said.

He said there are also concerns about the numbers of migrants that are not sponsored.

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The city of El Paso requested $25.8 million from the federal government.

The city was provided $12.5 million - in total there is $26.5 million of funding that the city can use on processed migrants.

"I think it's really important to understand that not all the money in the world is not going to take care of the immigration problem. Leeser said.

Border Patrol agents have been along the US-Mexico border throughout El Paso.

Border Patrol spokesman, Fidel Baca, said migrants crossing face dangerous conditions.

“Temperatures will soon be in the 90s. The water will be released into the canals next week, which the dangers on the border for migrants will continue,” he said.

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