EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso City Council approved spending $4 million but not to exceed $6 million to continue busing migrants out of El Paso.
“We could expend it rather quickly if it stays at these numbers today,” said Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agositno about the millions approved to bus migrants.
According to D’Agostino, since July, a total of $2.6 million has been spent to bus migrants out of El Paso. A total of $4 million was spent overall on the migrant situation from July until the present day.
City Council members Isabel Salcido and Claudia Rodriguez voted against spending for buses, speaking about concerns regarding the reimbursement from the federal government.
“If we’re already spending $250,000 (a day) of El Pasoans’ taxpayer money and we’re using this money to put them into hotels so they’re not on the street,” Rodriguez said.
“You’re not spending El Paso taxpayer’s money because we are getting reimbursed 100 percent of the money from the federal government,” Mayor Oscar Leeser countered.
The City has to submit for reimbursement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the $4 million spent over the last quarter. Meanwhile, the city is waiting on $2 million from FEMA for future costs but that does not cover the $4 million for the last quarter.
D’Agostino told KTSM the city has been in communication with the federal government specifically about El Paso getting reimbursed.
Another topic brought up during Tuesday’s City Council meeting was council members’ urging the mayor to issue an emergency declaration.
Representative Cissy Lizarraga asked why the City of El Paso is not asking for help from the State of Texas and why an emergency declaration has not been issued.
The mayor says an emergency declaration is not needed at this time due to decompression efforts and Border Patrol not releasing migrants on the streets as they were a few weeks ago.
He also addressed why the city is not asking the state of Texas for help.
“We don’t want them (migrants) to go to the White House, we don’t want them to go to Martha’s Vineyard,” said Mayor Oscar Leeser.
As we reported, El Paso City Council did issue an emergency ordinance that allowed the city to use city funds for migrants. However, the El Paso city attorney said an emergency declaration is different from the ordinance.