Border enforcement agents released around 600 migrants into the streets of El Paso since Friday after the city’s immigrant processing center reached full capacity, reported El Paso Matters.
“The decision to provisionally release migrants was determined after exhausting all other decompression options for the custody of migrants found in our sector,” El Paso Border Patrol officials said Monday in a statement.
El Paso has an average of 1,650 migrant encounters per day, but its Central Processing Center and overflow area only have capacity for 3,660 migrants, Border Patrol added in the statement.
The migrants released to the streets the last few days were mostly single adults coming from Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, the CBP added.
A city spokesperson said that this release will be different from previous ones, which led to migrants creating makeshift encampments on the city streets.
“Our understanding, as to what CBP is telling us, is that they’re releasing them actually to a local bus company, Tornado. Tornado has agreed to accept the individuals for the last several days,” said Laura Cruz-Acosta with the City of El Paso.
“Those individuals, as we understand it, are sponsored migrants and they have the funds in order to obtain a ticket to get on a bus to their final destination,” said Cruz-Acosta.
The release of the migrants comes after the city stopped a program to bus undocumented migrants to other cities on October 20. City officials say they will not resume the operation unless they receive federal funding.
“We are going to need to see some approval or advanced funding before we start any other operations,” Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino told the City Council on Monday.
El Paso requested $3 million in advance funding to build a temporary processing center that will help migrants who can pay for their transport to reach their next destination.
The city has spent more than $9.5 million to shelter and transport migrants so far this year and is awaiting a reimbursement from the federal government for $7.3 million.