EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Only a few dozen migrants could be seen on the streets surrounding Sacred Heart Church in South El Paso, where a few days ago hundreds occupied sidewalks and neighboring alleys.
The ones that remained held on tight to their immigration parole documents or notices to appear in federal court later, as undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol agents conducted enforcement operations just a block north.
“I have my permit, so I am not worried about immigration (officers),” said Jose, a Venezuelan migrant sitting on the sidewalk a few feet from Sacred Heart’s gates. “I’m going to New York, I’m just $20 short” to get a bus ticket.
ICE, Border Patrol and other agencies on Tuesday carried out a special enforcement operation while local organizations urged migrants with parole documents to go to a shelter.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser acknowledged that the multi-pronged approach is succeeding in helping people get off the streets prior to the expected arrival to the border of others seeking admission as Title 42 public health expulsions end.
“As you can see the numbers are going down a lot because we have been working together on this,” he told reporters as he toured the site on Wednesday.
The mayor said the number of migrants is also going down across the border, in Juarez, Mexico. “Why? Because we have been working on this. Why wait until tomorrow? We started working on this long ago for when this day would come.”
El Paso Environmental Services crews picked up abandoned blankets, discarded clothing, cardboard boxes used as mattresses and trash from the sidewalks. Much-used American Red Cross blankets went into the dump trucks aplenty.
“We are always concerned about the safety of people. We blocked off the streets prior to anything happening,” Leeser said. “The Office of Emergency Management is concerned that every asylum-seeker in El Paso is safe. The priority is to treat people the way they want to be treated.”
The mayor said a shelter is ready to open in a vacant middle school property of the El Paso Independent School District.