The crisis at the border continues, and one Texas town in particular is bearing the burden of the large influx of migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border seeking asylum. Over just a matter of three days, El Paso has taken in over 500 migrants released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the city is expected to see another 500 migrants bussed in on Wednesday.
El Paso CBS-affiliate KDBC-TV reports that approximately 400 migrants were released into El Paso two days before Christmas and another 186 were released on Christmas day.
Presidential hopeful and outgoing Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who represents El Paso, says more migrants are coming. Another 500 or so asylum-seekers are expected to be released into the city Wednesday. “Many thanks to volunteers & donors who ensure that we take care of families being released by ICE in El Paso,” O’Rourke tweeted on Christmas day. “200 to be released today. Over 500 tomorrow.”
Many thanks to volunteers & donors who ensure that we take care of families being released by ICE in El Paso. 200 to be released today. Over 500 tomorrow. Please make a donation that will go to food and beds here: https://t.co/062olx7YIp pic.twitter.com/IPpFXCtiR8
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) December 25, 2018
O’Rourke has asked that ICE give local nonprofits at least 24 hours warning, something the groups told KDBC-TV helped them be “a bit more prepared” for the huge influx of people this time around.
“Local nonprofits tell us the key difference Tuesday is that they were notified by ICE that a mass release would take place again during the day, something that Rep. Beto O’Rourke said didn’t happen previously,” KDBC-TV reports. “As a result, nonprofits were a bit more prepared for the large intake.”
ICE issued a statement Monday explaining that they have had to release the hundreds of migrants into the city due to “decades” of congressional inaction.
“After decades of inaction by Congress, the government remains severely constrained in its ability to detain and promptly remove families with no legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” the agency said in the statement. “To mitigate the risk of holding family units past the timeframe allotted to the government, ICE has curtailed reviews of post-release plans from families apprehended along the southwest border. ICE continues to work with local and state officials and NGO partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.”
As a result, large groups of migrants have been bussed into the city and released, largely to the care of nonprofits in the area.
One volunteer, Michelle Sanchez, who is an immigrant herself, said she felt compelled to help out. “We made something for them for breakfast. We went to buy some bread and my sister went to her closet to look for things that we could give away. We are here to give what we have,” she said. “If you can do something for the people, if you can give something for the people just do it. That’s what we do and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
One of the migrants, a Honduran national who was detained at the border with her four-year-old son and asked that her full name not be used, expressed her gratitude for the nonprofits and volunteers. “Never could I have imagined getting here and being welcomed with food,” said Ingrid. “In fact he was crying that he was hungry. Honestly, it just feels unreal.”
While El Paso attempts to accommodate hundreds more migrants, the thousands of migrants that have amassed at the border near Tijuana are now reportedly turning on the activist group, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, that encouraged them to make the difficult and dangerous trek.
After the group, which is composed of about 40 U.S. and Mexican activists, urged the group to continue to the U.S. border rather than stay in Mexico, the caravan voted to keep going. “Since then, former allies and some migrants have said the group downplayed the risks involved, particularly for those with families and small children,” Fox News reports. “The organizers also were accused of misleading caravan migrants about how long they would have to wait on the Mexican side of the border to apply for asylum.”