While the Biden administration prepares to bring Title 42 to an end, El Paso is preparing for a possible state of emergency at the border as its migrant shelters are already at capacity.
In a news release issued on May 18, the City stated that local authorities have requested the mayor sign an emergency declaration to obtain funds and resources from the state and federal governments. The proclamation would make both the city and the county eligible for state and federal financing to open additional shelters.
The City of El Paso and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) are collaborating with county, state, and federal partners to handle the current unlawful migrant inflow amid a regional surge, but they now seek more assistance.
“We are extremely grateful to all our partners, including the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), the County, State, and Federal leaders who understand the extraordinary collaborative lift that is required,” said Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino.
D’Agostino said in an earlier press release that El Paso and the OEM had already begun taking measures to prepare for the arrival of many more unlawful migrants. These measures include increasing staff to provide support for things such as COVID-19 testing and humanitarian efforts.
“We have already been engaged in the process, but we have now increased our efforts exponentially,” said D’Agostino.
El Paso is also partnering with Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) to obtain additional federal funding, and government agencies are looking into potential locations for “temporary immigration refuge.”
If more shelter space is not added soon, families with young children could end up on the streets, according to Ruben Garcia, the head of Annunciation House, El Paso’s network of migrant shelters.
The city council will vote on the declaration this week, with the proposal then heading to the mayor for final approval.
In the meantime, the council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance on May 23.