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Migrants say they were removed from streets of downtown El Paso overnight by police


Migrants have mattresses set up in downtown El Paso. (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
Migrants have mattresses set up in downtown El Paso. (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
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The City of El Paso police removed migrants who were sleeping next to the Greyhound bus stations in Downtown El Paso around 3 a.m. Sunday, according to migrants who were there.

Some of the migrants tell KFOX14 there were several police cars, officers flashing their lights at them, and police on bicycles telling them to leave their makeshift tent city.

“They just got there and told us you can’t sleep here, you have to leave or else you will be arrested," said Carlos Peña, a Venezuelan migrant.

“They came flashing their lights telling us we had to leave. We were like, yes, boss, we are leaving," said Kelvin Peña, a Venezuelan migrant. “It was a lot of people that had to leave. We would move further away because we really didn’t have anywhere else to go and they would tell us that we couldn’t stay here. We then moved even further, and they would tell us the same thing."

“I was asleep," said Carlos Peña, a Venezuelan migrant.

“What happened last night was a bit more uncomfortable than normal," said Kevin Benjamidro Urbina, a Venezuelan migrant.

The spokeswoman for the city, Laura Cruz-Acosta said the city's "roving team" moved people from the area. She said they advised the people that state law does not allow camping on city streets, and it isn’t a safe environment to be sleeping on the streets.

"Primarily because it's not a safe environment for the migrants, especially those migrants with families to be sleeping out on the streets. so our roving teams have gone out and moved them either to the shelters or to hotel and then connecting them with the appropriate resources that we have made at our welcome center," said Laura Cruz-Acosta.

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They said some had to walk around the city until sunrise or slept on city benches for a couple of hours.

“Walk around and try to find somewhere we could sleep a few hours until sunrise," said Peña." We were never told anything. They asked us that if we had money to pay for a hotel, they would take us to a hotel. We don't have money."

Peña said the food, clothing, and water that was donated to them by community members were thrown away.

They said those items were thrown into a large garbage truck.

“We saw how they would throw away the water and the food into the garbage truck. Do they not have families? Have they not gone through adversities before? Today it’s us, but tomorrow it could be them," said Peña.

"We have been told by the migrants themselves is that the community has gone out there and given them food. That they have an overabundance of food that ends up being spoiled and going rotten. So that's why we are asking the community to please-- if they are willing to donate, we ask them and urge them to go through the local shelters," added Cruz-Acosta.

For more than a week, migrants were sleeping near the Greyhound bus station. Some people said they slept out there because they were told shelters were at capacity, others waited for their loved ones and friends at that location.

Cruz-Acosta said the city's "roving team" has been moving migrants from the streets for a while.

We asked her if the city has been moving migrants since the first day migrants started sleeping near the Greyhound bus station.

She said: "We are out there on a-- continuous is continuous because the federal government has been releasing them with little warning to the city."

Since the city's "roving team" was advising migrants to go to shelters or hotels, we asked Cruz-Acosta what shelters were open at 3 a.m. and if they were still at capacity.

"You need to reach out to the Opportunity Center or the Annunciation House for Example those are our primary NGOs that we work and coordinate with," said Cruz-Acosta.

Since the "roving team" has been removing migrants off the streets continuously, KFOX14 asked Cruz-Acosta how many migrants have been taken to a shelter and/or hotel since last week.

"I don't know, I don't have that number," she said.

Meantime, some migrants told KFOX14 they were still not certain where they would sleep Sunday night.

"Yesterday, I worked with a woman that offered me to stay at her house. A very good woman. She offered I could stay at her house until I make arrangements to move forward. I will ask if I can stay at her house today. If she says no, I will look for a shelter, but can't be out on the streets."

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