A federal government initiative is going to provide money to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, specifically for their assistance to transport migrants during the ongoing influx.
As the number of migrant apprehensions continues to rise in the borderland, EPSCO is going to step in to help facilitate transportation.
“We want to help prevent scenes like you saw under the Paso del Norte bridge where you saw large groups of these migrants being held until they were being processed,” Ryan Urrutia told KTSM.
County commissioners approved the department to receive funding to transport migrants who are self-surrendering, claiming asylum at the border and take them to their processing point.
The money is coming from Operation Stonegarden, a homeland security grant program that provides funding to local, state, and federal government agencies.
$314,397 will be granted and be used to purchase five vans that carry 15 passengers each, as well as funds for vehicle expense reimbursement and overtime hours.
“All personnel working this will be under overtime,” Urrutia said, “They will not be utilized during their regular duty hours so anyone that wishes to work this assignment will sign up on a voluntary basis and the county is reimbursed in overtime including all expenses associated with their salary from the federal government.”
There is no projected timeline in assisting with transporting migrants to get processed. However, the grant at least provides a chance for the county to address the ongoing influx and help handle it.
“So that’s not a true representation of our community and I think if we’re offered funding and can help facilitate this in order to prevent this humanitarian issue from taking place, we want to get involved,” Urrutia added.
The new vehicles are expected to be purchased by the end of next month.The sheriff’s office will be receiving them between six to nine months.