EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Cartels are spreading rumors on social media that the border is open, seemingly leading to a recent spike in migrants crossing illegally into El Paso, border authorities say.
In a statement to Border Report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said rumors circulating on social media claiming areas of the Southwest border — specifically in the El Paso Sector — are open to illegal migration are “patently false.”
“These rumors are absolutely false and yet another dangerous example of bad actors sharing bad information,” read the statement, referring to transnational criminal organizations. “The border is not open to illegal migration.”
Since the weekend, hundreds of migrants, most from Venezuelan, have been crossing the border illegally and gathering along the border wall in El Paso, where they surrender to U.S. Border Patrol agents before being taken to processing centers.
On Monday, hundreds more arrived in Juarez, riding atop a freight train.
However, CBP reminds noncitizens that they’ll process them under Title 8, which requires them to apply for asylum interviews using the CBP One app and enter through legal ports of entry. Migrants who attempt to enter the country illegally and can’t establish a legal basis to remain in the United States face immediate removal, and repeat offenders face a multi-year ban.
Federal officials legally release certain migrants — including Venezuelans — with the promise that they’ll show up to court. According to the City of El Paso’s Migrant Situational Awareness Dashboard, federal officials reported 858 community releases on Tuesday, up from 562 on Monday.
The surge in migrants, however, comes as processing facilities and nonprofit shelters that provide beds and help get them to their final destination operate over capacity.
On Monday, migrant families and adults with no place to go gathered under shade at San Jacinto Plaza in the heart of Downtown El Paso.
John Martin, deputy director of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, which has been housing migrants as of late, said Tuesday that the welcome center is already at capacity.
Martin said that unlike the influx of migrants in May of this year and December of last year, this third wave of migrants has been slowly building up over the past three to four weeks, and they expect it to continue to build.
“As of this morning, we had 125, but I’ve already been informed that six families have come in,” Martin said. “And so we’re probably approaching 150 to 160, and we’ll see what the final count looks like tonight.”
Martin said that roughly 86% of migrants are Venezuelan, and shelters have begun seeing 40-60 new people daily.
On Friday, the city of El Paso said it was concerned that room for new arrivals would quickly run out.
On Tuesday evening, El Paso Matters, a nonprofit news organization, reported that the El Paso Independent School District approved the sale of Morehead Middle School to the City of El Paso. The school is vacant and had been prepared to house migrants in recent months. The city council will vote on the purchase next week.