El Paso shelters overflowing amid migrant surge

Immigration

(NewsNation) — Although national attention has been focused on migrants being bused and flown out of Texas, El Paso has been dealing with an unprecedented number of migrants processed and released by border authorities.

The result has led to an overflow of shelters in the city, leaving local officials scrambling to make space. In some cases, migrants have resorted to sleeping in the streets.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis, it really is. It’s disappointing. It’s saddening to see the releases on the streets. For us here in El Paso, it’s unacceptable,” Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Friday.

“We’re having to take on this crisis created by the federal government,” D’Agostino said.

Since Aug. 23, when El Paso opened a welcome center for migrants, the city has provided more than $1 million in transportation and aid and will be seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement, as the welcome center continues to open its doors to migrants such as 10-year-old Camilla and her family.

The family told NewsNation they are from Venezuela and crossed into the U.S. just five days ago.

Camilla says she excited to meet new friends and get an education — something she wasn’t able to do in Venezuela. She also says her family didn’t have work or money for food and she was often hungry.

According to D’Agostino, 41 buses of migrants have been sent from the city — up to nine a day — with the majority heading to New York and Chicago.

D’Agostino, says the rise in migrant crossings is due to the messaging getting back to migrants that El Paso is a safe place to cross right now.

“If you see our river right now. It’s sand, you can walk right across. We don’t have a solid barrier, a fence, a wall … people are able to walk right through,” D’Agostino said.

“They understand there’s busing, as well. We’re being as welcoming as we can — El Paso does have a heart — and I think that’s directed some of that traffic,” he continued.

Additionally, D’Agostino says the buses are voluntary and the city of El Paso coordinates with destination cities to ensure the migrants are received and cared for. 

Camilla and her family caught one of the buses to New York. Meanwhile, there are still migrants living on the streets in the city who were released by Border Patrol days ago, bu thave no place to go as facilities remain overrun.

“We have to have a support structure and not put it to the individual … to step up,” D’Agostino said.

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