EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The County of El Paso is set to open up its migrant processing facility on Monday.
The facility will be for single adult migrants who have sponsors and money to get to their destination. The facility will help them get in contact with their sponsor and make travel arrangements.
“This is actually the brainchild of Chief Chavez (El Paso Border Patrol Chief) who realized that ‘why are we dealing with people who have money? why are we having them in shelters?’ and so we’ve addressed her situation and this is the outcome.”El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego
Samaniego says it will be U.S. Customs and Border Protection that will determine whether a migrant has a sponsor or not and then bring those who do, to the county facility.
As we’ve reported, the City of El Paso has its welcome facility in Northeast El Paso. The city is helping migrants both with and without sponsors and also busing some of those migrants to their destination.
Judge Samaniego says the county facility should alleviate the city of those migrants who have sponsors and money to travel. KTSM 9 News asks if the city will be sending migrants to the county facility once it is determined they have sponsors.
“As soon as CBP recognizes that they have a sponsor, they know how to channel them here, the moment that the city recognizes, and somebody says well I have a sponsor I don’t need to… then they channel them over here and they’re able to get Uber’s they’re able to get different ways of getting to the center.”El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego
However, the county facility will not provide transportation from the facility to the airport or bus stations once travel arrangements are made.
The county facility will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will not act as a shelter. Samaniego says they will not transport migrants but will help connect them to shelters if needed, although he does not believe that will be the case.
“From our experience, the majority of them have money to stay overnight at the hotels and it’s counterintuitive to believe that but a lot of individuals that I’d see where they were walking out of the airport, and I’d ask them where you are going now, and they would say were going to go stay at a hotel and either they pay for it, or the sponsor paid for it.”El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego
The building is located at 8515 Lockheed near the airport and as we reported the building costs over $11,000 a month to lease and the County of El Paso approved a contract for over $6 million with The Providencia Group that would run the facility, lasting until Nov. 13, 2024.
The County says the money is reimbursable through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Salvation Army will be providing breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks throughout the day at the county facility.
“Some of the migrants will not be here very long and some will be here for a longer part of the day so it helps to make sure that no matter what time if they miss the meal the previous meal they will still have something here to eat and we will also be distributing hygiene kits.”Joanna Estrada Public Relations Manager for the Salvation Army in El Paso
Irene Valenzuela the Executive Director of the County’s Community Services Department saying the plan is to start with 100 migrants a day when the facility opens on Monday and scale up to 600 over time.
“Depends on the decompression efforts at their detention centers, were going to coordinate on how many to receive.” said Valanzuela.