(El Paso) Along the U.S. southern border, two cities — El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico — braced for a surge of 5,000 new migrants a day on Sunday as immigration restrictions during a pandemic expire this week.
Plans for emergency housing, food and other essentials are put in place to deal with a potential crisis.
On the Mexican side of the international border, there were only piles of clothes, shoes and backpacks abandoned on the banks of the Rio Grande, where until a few days ago hundreds of people lined up to show up. to US authorities.
A young man from Ecuador was unsure of the Mexican side; he asked two reporters if they knew anything about what would happen if he surrendered without having a sponsor in the United States.
He joined a line of a dozen people on the US side waiting, with no US official in sight, near a small fence guarded by several Border Patrol vehicles.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told The Associated Press on Sunday that the area, home to one of the nation’s busiest border crossings, was coordinating housing and relocation efforts with groups and other cities, and appealed for state and federal humanitarian assistance.
The region is preparing for an influx of new arrivals who could double their daily numbers once the “Title 42” public health rule ends on Wednesday.
The measure has deterred more than 2.5 million migrants from crossing since March 2020.
On Saturday, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser issued an emergency declaration calling for additional local and state resources for shelter construction and other emergency aid.
Samaniego, the county judge, said the request came a day after El Paso officials sent Texas Governor Greg Abbott a letter asking for humanitarian aid for the area, adding that the request was about resources to help care for and relocate newly arrived migrants, not additional security forces.
Mr. Samaniego said he had received no response to the request and planned to issue a similar countywide emergency statement specifying the type of assistance the region needs if the city does not receive state aid soon.
He urged the federal government and states to provide additional money, adding that they had a strategy in place but lacked financial, essential and volunteer resources.
Starting Wednesday, El Paso officials will all join forces in a one-stop emergency command center, Samaniego said, similar to their approach to the COVID-19 emergency.
Until then, they coordinate with organizations to provide them with temporary housing while they wait to find a sponsor, then relocate them to larger cities where they can be airlifted or bused to their final destinations. .
As of March, El Paso was the fifth busiest sector among the nine Mexican Border Patrol sectors. The region suddenly became the busiest, by far, in October, overtaking Del Rio (Texas), which had itself replaced the Rio Grande Valley in Texas as the busiest corridor at lightning speed at the end of last year.
Why El Paso has become such a strong magnet in recent months is unclear. The sector has been attracting a particularly high number of migrants since September.
Meanwhile, a group of around 300 migrants began marching north on Saturday evening from an area near the Mexico-Guatemala border before being stopped by Mexican authorities.
Some wanted to arrive on December 21, mistakenly believing that the end of the measure would mean they could no longer apply for asylum.
Misinformation about US immigration rules is often prevalent among migrants. The group is largely made up of Central Americans and Venezuelans who crossed the southern border from Mexico and waited in vain for transit or exit visas, immigration forms that could have allowed them to cross Mexico to the border. American.
“We want to get to the United States as soon as possible, before they close the border, that’s what worries us,” said Erick Martínez, a Venezuelan migrant.