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Southern border in El Paso experiencing migrant backlog due to slow state transportation

El Paso is trying to cope with housing a large number of migrants in the area for longer than expected after slow state transportation out of the city caused a backlog.


While crossings have slightly slowed down at the southern border in El Paso, the city is trying to cope with housing a large number of migrants in the area for longer than expected.

On Friday, March 1st, the City of El Paso’s online migrant dashboard showed 1,135 encounters for the previous day. On Dec. 19, for instance, that number was much higher, standing at 1,489 daily apprehensions and surrenders.

John Martin, the Deputy Director for the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, said the shelters are helping out as best as possible. 

"Each of our shelters that are helping in this particular area – what we refer to as the downtown shelter network – all of which are operating at or over capacity at this point," Martin said.

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Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said the city continues to renew its emergency declaration to ensure that it can convert buildings like hotels and schools into emergency shelters.

"We’ve actually had to house in hotels twice in the past five days," D’Agostino said.

He said the problem isn’t how many migrants are arriving, but who is arriving.

"We’re seeing a lot of Venezuelans," D'Agostino said. "They don’t have a means to get to where they’re going, so, they don’t have that financial sponsorship to move on to those destination cities that they’ve already chosen. They’re relying on the state’s transportation system."

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But, the state's transportation system has been slow, which is causing long stays.

"The hotel utilization was due to the fact that the state was only doing transport once a week," D’agostino said.

This week is the first that the state’s transport has been back running five days a week. Shelter directors and local officials are hopeful that it will help with some of the backlog and finally give the city some relief.

"Once they can get them to continue moving, less than 1% of any of them coming through want to stay in El Paso and so once you get that transportation moving, we can maintain with our local shelters," D’agostino said.

Thanks to the renewal of the city's emergency declaration, the shelter director reported that, as of now, no locals requiring shelter have been turned away.

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