El Paso, Texas, is facing a dire situation as the city grapples with a sharp increase in migrants crossing the U.S. border, pushing local resources to their limits. Mayor Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, expressed his concerns during a news conference, stating that the city had reached a “breaking point.”
“The city of El Paso only has so many resources and we have come to… a breaking point right now,” El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, said at a news conference Saturday.
The surge in migrants, particularly those seeking asylum, has overwhelmed El Paso, with over 2,000 migrants per day now crossing the border and arriving in the city. This influx has strained resources and stretched shelter capacity beyond its limits.
Mayor Leeser acknowledged that the city had prepared for increased migration, but the current numbers far exceeded their expectations. The situation is compounded by the fact that many migrants are embarking on perilous journeys, often relying on buses and cargo trains to reach the U.S. border.
“So, this is something that we’ve been prepared for, but these numbers have really escalated a lot quicker than we ever anticipated,” Leeser stated.
In response to the crisis, El Paso is taking measures to address the immediate needs of migrants. The city is planning to open a new shelter to accommodate the growing numbers. Additionally, on a recent Saturday, El Paso chartered five buses to transport migrants to cities like New York, Chicago, and Denver. The goal is to move migrants to their preferred destinations, as many lack the means to reach these cities on their own. However, the limited shelter capacity in El Paso, which can currently host only 400 people, also needs to serve the local homeless population.
The situation in El Paso is not isolated, as other border cities in Texas and California are experiencing a similar surge, primarily driven by asylum seekers from Venezuela. This crisis has prompted at least two Democratic mayors in Texas, including Mayor Rolando Salinas of Eagle Pass, to voice their concerns. Mayor Salinas even declared a state of emergency in his city after 5,000 migrants crossed the border.
The sharp increase in arrivals, from about 350-400 people per day just six weeks ago to over 2,000 daily, has forced El Paso to collaborate closely with the U.S. Border Patrol to provide shelter to approximately 6,500 individuals. The majority of those arriving in El Paso are single men, with 32% being families, and around 2% unaccompanied children.
Mayor Leeser emphasized the need for comprehensive immigration reform, citing the ongoing challenges posed by a “broken immigration system.”
“I believe 100 percent [Biden] does, he bears some responsibility for this crisis. I haven’t heard from anybody in the administration. The president hasn’t put out a statement, the vice president, I haven’t heard from anybody,” Salinas said.
“We’re here abandoned. We’re on the border, we’re asking for help. This is unacceptable,” he stated.
“I think it’s really important to note that we have a broken immigration system,” Leeser said. “It’s the same thing over and over again.”
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the situation. Meanwhile, the White House defended its stance, highlighting President Biden’s call for comprehensive immigration reform and accusing House Republicans of obstructing progress in this regard.
Despite allocating substantial financial support for newly arriving migrants, the Biden administration continues to face criticism over its handling of the border crisis, with local officials like Mayor Leeser and Mayor Salinas demanding urgent assistance and action.