El Paso withholds declaration of immigration emergency

Hours after the city and county of El Paso announced they would be filing separate declarations of emergency as a wave of immigrants hit the border town, both entities have reversed course and told the Post they won’t be declaring a state of emergency — yet.

“We withdrew because we found that there is very little difference between the funding we receive now and the funding we would receive if it went to the governor and the governor gave it to President Biden sent,” El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told the Post. “Right now they could fund the processing center, they can fund the paid volunteers.”

Local leaders have tried to set up a temporary shelter, or processing center, for migrants after more than 100 were released onto the streets of downtown El Paso on Sunday after both the Border Police processing center and non-profit shelters ran out of space to house them accommodate.

Migrant asylum seekers cross the Rio Bravo River in El Paso, Texas.
Migrant asylum seekers cross the Rio Bravo River in El Paso, Texas.
New York Post
Migrants seeking asylum in the United States from Haiti hang out on the street in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, May 19.
Migrants seeking asylum in the United States from Haiti hang out on the street in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, May 19.
New York Post

The city of El Paso first told The Post it would declare a state of emergency Wednesday night, while the county of El Paso publicly announced it would do the same Thursday morning in order to be eligible for additional funds to deal with the crisis. After meetings with FEMA and other federal officials, Samaniego told the Post he had lost interest in moving forward.

“We were initially led to believe that there would be a big difference [in funding] that’s why we were happy about it,” he said in a telephone interview. “We all got together and asked FEMA, ‘Okay, FEMA, how much do we gain from this statement?’ And he said, ‘They’re getting most of their funding now through emergency relief and emergency shelter funding.'”

“So we actually retired — the mayor and I retired.”

Asylum-seeking migrants walk across the Paso Del Norte International Bridge to enter Mexico.
Asylum-seeking migrants walk across the Paso Del Norte International Bridge to enter Mexico.
New York Post

El Paso, like most border towns, is already seeing a wave of immigrants, and officials are bracing for the possibility that they will be overwhelmed if Title 42 is lifted as planned Monday. Title 42 refers to a federal health policy that blocked nearly 2 million immigrants from entering the country because of the pandemic.

A federal judge could decide as early as Friday whether to repeal Title 42, as the Biden administration wants, or side with several states that have sued to keep it, arguing they are being overrun by immigrants.

As many as 7,000 cross-border commuters a day could come to El Paso if Title 42 is repealed, Samaniego told The Post. The local Border Patrol Center only has a capacity for about 4,200 people, and the local shelters can only accommodate a few hundred depending on the day.

Samaniego expects there will be criticism of his about-face, but noted that the city and county can always file emergency declarations if Title 42 is actually lifted.

A migrant crosses the Rio Bravo on May 19.
A migrant crosses the Rio Bravo on May 19.
New York Post

“I know the first reaction will be … they think we need to secure the borders – although we will declare, ‘It’s humanitarian. It’s for funding.’ It had nothing to do with our inability to handle every situation, but it’s going to be misconstrued and then they’re going to say we need the National Guard … all these other things that can happen with these narratives,” the district judge called.

“It wasn’t worth getting so little and then putting us in a bind, as interpreted, because we have an emergency crisis on our hands.”

The city of El Paso could not be immediately reached for comment.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/20/el-paso-holding-off-on-immigration-emergency-declaration/ El Paso withholds declaration of immigration emergency

JACLYN DIAZ

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