El Paso Mayor declares “state of emergency” as U.S.-Mexico border crossings are expected to surge

El Paso has declared a state of emergency because of the ongoing refugee crisis in the border city.

Mayor Oscar Leeser said he decided to finally make the statement as the situation began to threaten the safety of residents and migrants alike. He said 2,500 migrants arrive in El Paso daily and that those numbers are likely to multiply as Trump-era border legislation expires this week.

The statement comes just days after Leeser attempted to walk out of a news conference after being pressed by reporters about why he had not yet made an emergency statement.

Last week, Denver also declared a state of emergency in preparation for the expiry of Title 42, which Trump signed into law in 2020, ostensibly to prevent transmission of COVID-19 across the border but used largely to aid in border control.

Mayor Oscar Leeser said he decided to finally make the statement as the situation began to threaten the safety of residents and migrants alike

Mayor Oscar Leeser said he decided to finally make the statement as the situation began to threaten the safety of residents and migrants alike

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo River near El Paso to face US border control and seek asylum

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo River near El Paso to face US border control and seek asylum

Migrants at the Sacred Heart Church emergency shelter in El Past on December 17

Migrants at the Sacred Heart Church emergency shelter in El Past on December 17

After previously saying that the additional funds and resources made available from a declaration of emergency would make no difference in El Paso’s migrant crisis, Leeser finally conceded.

“We felt that today is the time to declare a state of emergency,” he said in his announcement, noting that the ever-increasing number of migrants arriving every day is beginning to overwhelm the city’s resources.

“I have said from the beginning that I would call if I felt either our asylum seekers or our community were unsafe,” he said.

With the statement, Leeser called on the state to provide additional staffing at its migrant shelters, provide state law enforcement agencies to protect migrants and Texans alike, and provide transportation assistance to bring migrants to other cities.

A large crowd of migrants lines up to enter the El Paso shelter set up at Sacred Heart Church

A large crowd of migrants lines up to enter the El Paso shelter set up at Sacred Heart Church

Migrants pass through a fence on the US-Mexico border on December 16

Migrants pass through a fence on the US-Mexico border on December 16

Immigrants receive donated clothing in front of Sacred Heart Church in El Paso

Immigrants receive donated clothing in front of Sacred Heart Church in El Paso

The statement coincides with this week’s expiration of Title 42, which President Trump instituted in March 2020 to curb the spread of disease across the southern border into the United States.

Title 42 allowed the US to deport migrants without considering them for asylum. More than 2 million people have been expelled since the rule came into force.

The end of Title 42 is likely to stall processes at the border and complicate the ongoing crisis.

Leeser said when Title 42 expires on December 21, the number of migrants arriving in the city could double.

“We know the influx on Wednesday will be incredible, it will be huge. On Wednesday our numbers will go from 2,500 to 4,000, 5,000, maybe 6,000,” he said.

Migrants prepare to cross the US-Mexico border where a bus is waiting for them

Migrants prepare to cross the US-Mexico border where a bus is waiting for them

Sleeping arrangements at the Sacred Heart Church refuge in El Paso

Sleeping arrangements at the Sacred Heart Church refuge in El Paso

The number of migrants entering El Paso daily is expected to increase this week

The number of migrants entering El Paso daily is expected to increase this week

Fernando Garcia, director of the Border Network for Human Rights, said migrants currently perceive Ciudad Juárez across from El Paso as a relatively safe place to approach the border amid dangers in Mexico from extortion and organized crime.

“This funding and this shelter isn’t the answer, it’s a band-aid to a really bigger problem,” said Leeser, a 2020-elected Democrat.

“It’s something we need to work with the (United Nations) and other countries to deal with a situation … that’s back bigger than El Paso and has now gotten bigger than the United States.”

El Paso in recent days has seen hundreds of migrants wading across shallow waters of the Rio Grande into the United States, forming lines along a border wall to contact immigration officials and ask for sanctuary.

News crews from local El Paso station KVIA also claimed to have witnessed “five or six people” rising from a manhole in Segundo Barrio, an area not far from the border.

A local resident told the station that illegal immigrants now use the US sewage system via openings on the Rio Grande to get in.

The end of Title 42 is likely to stall processes at the border and complicate the ongoing crisis

The end of Title 42 is likely to stall processes at the border and complicate the ongoing crisis

“We know the influx on Wednesday will be incredible, it will be huge. On Wednesday, our numbers will go from 2,500 to 4,000, 5,000, maybe 6,000,

“We know the influx on Wednesday will be incredible, it will be huge. On Wednesday, our numbers will go from 2,500 to 4,000, 5,000, maybe 6,000,” Mayor Lesser said

Migrants prepare to cross the US border at the Rio Grande

Migrants prepare to cross the US border at the Rio Grande

Last week, Leeser bizarrely attempted to walk out of a news conference after being challenged about the city’s deepening migrant crisis.

The mayor said of his resistance to declaring a state of emergency: “We were able to get the funding without having to. We can also get government support without having to do it. Declaring a state of emergency was not an option for me. Being able to work with our partners was a great option.”

He then argued that state officials had also told him that declaring a state of emergency was not necessary and would make no difference.

However, later in the press, city manager Mario D’Agostino disagreed, making it clear where the differences would lie: “This statement allows the state to allocate additional funds outside of its normal budget.”

Leeser then ends the press conference and takes away the microphone.

The mayor said the city is distributing outdoor toilets and water stations as it offers overnight hotel rooms to migrants whose numbers exceed the capacity of a reception facility of the county and the regional network of shelters with charitable and religious groups.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11551241/El-Paso-mayor-declares-state-emergency-Mexico-border-crossings-expected-surge.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 El Paso Mayor declares “state of emergency” as U.S.-Mexico border crossings are expected to surge

Emma Colton

Janice Dean is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Janice Dean joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: janicedean@wstpost.com.

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