The mayor of the Texas border city of El Paso declared a state of emergency on Saturday, pointing to hundreds of migrants braving freezing temperatures sleeping on the streets and thousands being detained each day.
The mayor, Democrat Oscar Leiser, said the state of emergency would give city officials the resources and ability to tend to migrants who have crossed the border into Mexico.
“We want to make sure that people are treated with respect. We want to make sure that everyone is safe,” Leiser told reporters.
The move comes as El Paso, a Democratic bastion with a history of welcoming immigrants, has had to deal with thousands of migrants crossing the border into Mexico in recent months.
The city is bracing for a potential surge in immigrant arrivals following an order to end COVID-era border restrictions, known as Title 42, by December 21.
Under the presidency of Democrat Joe Biden, who takes office in January 2021, record numbers of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border have been caught, making the policy more difficult to criticize from pro-Republican opponents.
US border agents on a 268-mile stretch of the border known as the El Paso Sector have encountered an average of more than 2,400 migrants a day over the past week, according to data released by the city. october.
As officials move migrants from El Paso to other US cities, local shelters are overwhelmed and migrants are sleeping on the streets in freezing temperatures.
Facing a surge in migrant arrivals in late August, the city launched a bus transportation program that sent some 14,000 migrants to New York and Chicago, claiming that many Venezuelans were unable to finance their travel away from the border without American sponsors. Were coming for
The city halted the program in October when the Biden administration began deporting Venezuelans back to Mexico under Title 42, but may resume it if Venezuelans are allowed to cross into El Paso again.