EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A bus carrying migrants left for New York City from a bus station in Downtown El Paso on Friday afternoon.
The El Paso Office of Emergency Management (OEM) chartered the bus, saying it was due to space and safety concerns.
In a statement, Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said the bus was to “provide for the safety of the migrants from the elements and to preserve the community’s transitory hospitality shelter capacities so they may continue to serve our homeless community.”
D’Agostino explained that OEM has sponsored and provided transportation services for migrants out of El Paso, which is reimbursable through FEMA, and that the individuals who took the bus to New York did not have sponsors and asked to go to New York.
“The trip to New York City was specific to a group of individuals who asked for transportation to New York City, this group had no sponsors, so the City of El Paso and OEM offered and sponsored their transportation,” he said, adding that this bus to New York was the second charter following one to Dallas back in June.
The travel costs for migrants are covered through FEMA’s emergency food and shelter grant.
D’Agostino’s statement said El Paso’s OEM contacted the OEM in New York to advise of the transport and is now in communications with the non-governmental that took them in.
Venezuelan migrants on the bus spoke with KTSM 9 News about why they left their country.
“We decided to leave Venezuela due to the situation in this country. I wanted to give my children an education. I wanted to give an education to my children, my grandchildren and my family wants to continue,” said one woman who traveled to the United States with her four children, three grandchildren, her son-in-law and her brother-in-law.
Another woman on the bus described what it was like trying to get to the U.S. with her family.
“We have to go through seas, rivers, jungle and perhaps countries where we are not welcome. And with children, it is always difficult,” Rosely Fernandez said. “It is an experience that perhaps nobody wishes for, but for a better future and for our children.”
Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, said they were not involved in sending the migrants to New York but explained why the people from Venezuela did not have sponsors.
“For the vast majority, they are able to move one. You have some nationalities where they don’t have a family member,” said Garcia.
He said Venezuela is one of those countries from where the U.S. hasn’t seen a large number of migrants over the years, so the migrants don’t have as many contacts in the U.S. as migrants from other countries.
In addition, migrants from Venezuela, as well as some other countries, cannot be expelled under Title 42 because those countries won’t take the back due to tense relations with the U.S. Title 42 is the public health order that allows Border Patrol agents to expel migrants over COVID-19 concerns.
“They have no place to go, they are destitute, they have no money, and then many of the hospitality sites operate with the expectation that if they receive a group of refugees they’re going to be able to move them on within 24 to 72 hours. If they can’t move them on in that period of time then they will tell the refugee your time is limited in the hospitality site and you’re going to have to fend for yourself,” Garcia said.
D’Agostino said OEM will continue to provide services as needed to protect the community and those passing through our community.