U.S. Border Patrol started releasing hundreds of migrants onto El Paso’s streets as officials try to deal with the overcrowded processing centers and local shelters, according to local authorities.
According to El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the processing centers in El Paso are at 3,400 capacity and unable to hold more migrants. However, the city welcome center continues taking in around 300 people a day.
“The El Paso Sector works closely with (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and Removal Operations for detention space and with local government officials and NGOs to decompress the high capacity of migrants in holding at the Sector’s Central Processing Center,” said a statement by the Border Patrol on Thursday. “Once those options are exhausted, provisional releases are considered.”
An official with the Border Patrol said that 133 migrants were released in El Paso on Wednesday, and an additional 350 were released on Thursday. Additionally, ABC 7 reported 150 more migrants were released on Friday.
“Migrants will be provisionally released near community shelters, homeless shelters, and bus stations throughout the city of El Paso,” added the agency.
Usually, local authorities, the Border Patrol, and non-profit organizations help incoming migrants by providing legal assistance and shelters when they are first released from federal custody.
“The NGOs have all stood up, additional rooms, they have opened up their capacity, they open up what are surge hotels. We also opened up numerous hotel rooms and we are actually housing as well. We prefer to keep them in hotels because it is more humane,” said Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino.
“Unfortunately, we’re limited to physical constraints with the size of the building and you get to the point where you simply can’t put another body in the building and that’s what we’re concerned with at this point,” said John Martin, Deputy Director for the Opportunity Center for the Homeless.
Additionally, Border Patrol agents have considered opening a space to place migrants in tents to handle the overflow of migrants who are not being expelled from the U.S. and are waiting for their cases to be processed, Samaniego added.
The El Paso City Council is also considering a contract with Gogo Charters LLC to transport migrants out of the city. However, until any final decisions are made, the migrants in El Paso will have to continue sleeping on the streets.