EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Multiple agencies and city and county officials met Wednesday day to discuss all possible outcomes once Title 42 is lifted on May 11.
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego shared with KTSM details from the meeting that included Border Patrol officials, the El Paso Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, among other local officials.
Samaniego explained that they looked at various scenarios and how to handle them, including opening more shelters.
The county has the Coliseum available to be used as a shelter, according to Samaniego, but he said that they could only do it after May 20, once they are done with their contractual obligations.
Samaniego mentioned the city is currently handling about 5,000 migrants. Officials discussed in the meeting how many migrants the city would be able to handle on a daily basis.
“If we get to beyond the 3,500 kinds of numbers on a daily basis, we’re pushing the envelope,” Samaniego said.
“We would be pushing that envelope because remember, you have 5,000 a day, 5,000 tomorrow and 5,000 the next day. That’s where the issue is. When you have an opportunity to slow down, then you can sort of mitigate that problem,” Samaniego explained.
Additionally, 1,500 U.S. troops are being sent to the border and Samaniego believes this is helpful but that it’s not sufficient.
Samaniego explained that the troops will be spread out throughout the border and not just in El Paso. They will be assisting with monitoring groups of migrants coming in.
The county is helping processed migrants find sponsors and travel to their destination. This is being done at the migrant support facility of Montana Avenue, where migrants are being dropped off in groups by Border Patrol to be further assisted.
Despite those resources, Samaniego stated there are several issues.
One issue is that the facility can only process up to 1,200 migrants a day, but they are receiving only about 500 because Border Patrol cannot process them fast enough.
Samaniego also said that this time will only be longer once Title 42 is lifted. Title 42, a public health order, gives border agents the authority to expel any migrant who enters the country between ports of entry. The Trump administration implemented Title 42 as a way to stop the cross-border spread of COVID-19.
Another issue that Samaniego pointed out is that some migrants get to the facility but end up refusing help and walk to the Sacred Heart Church to find help on their own, which can prolong the process of their leaving to their destination even more.
KTSM spoke to a woman from Venezuela who was processed and was waiting to buy her ticket but couldn’t because all the buses were full.
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