The mayor of El Paso has declared a state of emergency as the city experiences a significant increase of migrants sleeping in the streets amid freezing temperatures impacting the city
In a news conference, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said city officials had information about a massive influx of migrants preparing to arrive at the border on Wednesday, calling the amount “incredible.” He continued to defend his actions of not calling an emergency sooner after some critics said his delay in doing so seriously impacted city resources for residents. The mayor told reporters, “I said from the beginning that I would call it when I felt that either our asylum-seekers or our community was not safe. I really believe that today our asylum-seekers are not safe as we have hundreds and hundreds on the streets and that’s not the way we want to treat people.”
The mayor’s emergency declaration will free up millions of dollars in aid and tap into federal resources that would help provide shelter and transportation to migrants arriving in the city. In addition, an emergency operations center would be activated in order to “protect the health, safety, and welfare of migrants and the [El Paso] community.”
According to city officials, thousands of migrants were being released on city streets daily, with the number anticipated to rise. Internal numbers leaked to reporters indicate the city could have up to 6,000 migrants being released daily starting Wednesday.
Texas state senator Cesar Blanco, a Democrat representing a region that encompasses El Paso said, “I support the city of El Paso’s Declaration of Disaster to activate a whole-of-government approach to addressing this unprecedented crisis.” He added, “the situation has superseded our local governments’ capacity and with Title 42 set to expire next week, the demand for resources is elevated.”