El Paso mayor declares state of emergency amid increase in migrants

The mayor of El Paso, Texas, declared a state of emergency on Saturday, as migrants continued to pour into the southern border town in anticipation of the end of Title 42.

Migrants have converged on El Paso in recent days, overwhelming shelters and forcing some to sleep on the streets amid dropping temperatures. With more asylum seekers expected, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said the city felt it was time to make the emergency declaration.

“I really believe that today our asylum seekers are not safe as we have hundreds and hundreds on the streets,” Leeser said at a press conference on Saturday. “That’s not the way we want to treat people.”

“We want to make sure that people are treated with dignity and being out in 20, 25-degree weather is not want we want to see,” he added.

El Paso is expecting to see an “incredible” increase in migrants on Wednesday with the end of Title 42, Leeser also noted.

The Trump-era immigration policy, which placed restrictions on asylum seekers, is set to end on Wednesday, after a federal judge struck down the rule in November. The judge gave the Biden administration five weeks, ending on Dec. 21, to wind down its use of the rule.

By declaring a state of emergency, the city can bring in additional resources to direct people off the streets and into shelters, said Mario D’Agostino, the deputy city manager. It will also help transport migrants, as they travel to their final destinations, D’Agostino said.

Migrants typically come into the southern border town and leave within 24 to 48 hours, Leeser said. However, transportation is expected to become more difficult to arrange as the holidays approach, causing some migrants to stay longer than usual.