EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The U.S. Border Patrol says it has not released any migrants on the streets of El Paso since last Friday.
The agency last week was forced to release more than 1,000 migrants on parole due to overcrowding at both its Central Processing Center and area nonprofit shelters that usually take them in. But stepped-up efforts from local governments and shifting migration patterns have provided a respite.
“We are up to 1,500 daily encounters in the month of September. It has not let up, on the contrary, we had been averaging 1,300 a day,” said U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Carlos A. Rivera. “We caught a break in that we are not experiencing the big groups of 200 to 400 at one shot. (And) when we have more places to turn these migrants over, that helps us with not doing provisional releases.”
Border Report last week witnessed hundreds of individuals crossing the Rio Grande from Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, just west of the Paso del Norte International Bridge. Most of the migrants were from Venezuela and said Juarez cab drivers gave them a ride to that spot.
The Border Patrol said most migrants coming across this month are “not amenable to Title 42 expulsions,” which is one of the factors that led to the street releases.
But on Friday, the city of El Paso’s Office of Emergency Management unveiled a processing site on Railroad Drive where released migrants with sponsors or financial resources of their own are being routed to charter buses.
On Monday, the El Paso County Commissioners moved to establish their own Migrant Support Services Center, instructing staff to negotiate a contract of up to $6.9 million for services with The Providencia Group LLC of Ashburn, Virginia, to operate the center. A rental contract for a facility also was approved with another company for $11,000 a month. Once operational, the center will process between 250 to 600 paroled migrants a day, county commissioners said.
The center would only deal with migrants who already have sponsors and are on their way out of the city; migrants without sponsors or means to leave would be routed to nonprofits, county staff told County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.
The funds would eventually be reimbursed to the county by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but would come from the county’s general fund, specifically the economic impact initiative.
County Auditor Edward A. Dion warned commissioners that FEMA is reimbursing local governments on a quarterly basis, and cautioned that the plan is contemplating a one-year services contract with the option to extend for a second year.
Community Services Executive Director Irene Valenzuela said any concerns from staff or commissioners could be addressed during contract negotiations.
Meantime, only a handful of Venezuelans on Monday could be seen behind the Greyhound Bus Station, which in the past week became a gathering point for hundreds of these South American asylum-seekers. “We are very happy, brother. We are going to Atlanta in a few hours,” said a Venezuelan who said his name was Jacobo.
He and two travel companions said they’re fleeing low wages in Venezuela, a country ruled by populist regimes since the early 2000s. They said they picked Atlanta because of job opportunities there.
Atlanta Hispanic nonprofits like Casa Alterna are telling local news media most newly arrived migrants there are coming from Texas.