(NewsNation) — The city of El Paso declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the city struggles to deal with a surge of migrants.
“We’ve been talking all day about what’s the best way to make sure that everyone is safe,” Mayor Oscar Leeser said. “I said from the beginning that I would call it when either the asylum seekers or our community were not safe, and I really believe today our asylum seekers are not safe as we have hundreds and hundreds on the street.”
Some of the migrants have been sleeping on the streets and cannot afford a bus or plane ticket.
Over the summer, the city stepped in and provided resources and transportation, but this time around, El Paso says this is a job for the federal government.
While the city is choosing to step back from the crisis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is saying others are doing too much when it comes to helping migrants.
Abbott said he will start investigating the nongovernment organizations that are assisting migrants, after reports that the NGOs were helping transport migrants across the southern border.
A migrant surge has been sending shock waves through the community still reeling from a massive migrant influx that subsided in October.
The city spent more than $9 million over the course of four months busing migrants, providing shelter and opening welcome centers.
Now the city is saying it’s time for the federal government to do the job.
“We would have a lot more resources, and the people of El Paso would probably feel not only safer, but we’re no longer funding an operation,” said City Councilwoman Claudia Rodriguez. “That is not our responsibility to fund.”
The city has a local disaster declaration in place, but some say that’s not enough.
“We need to have strong policies and we do, but we need to also enforce those” said El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzales “And you know, I know it’s a challenge because the numbers are so great. And so we are being challenged locally. The state’s being challenged, and so is the federal government.”
The Border Network for Human Rights organization has been assisting migrants within the city of El Paso for more than two decades — and says it will not be intimidated by the governor’s plan to investigate.
“We’re not going to stop what we are doing,” said Fernando Garcia with the NGO. “We’re not going to be threatened by any politician to tell us that doing human rights work at the border is wrong.”