El Paso, Texas Prepares to Declare Emergency Over Surge in Immigration as Title 42 Ends

With the Biden administration set to withdraw the Title 42 health authority permitting summary deportation of migrants, El Paso County in Texas plans to declare a state of emergency as it prepares for a spike in illegal immigration. ​​Title 42 is set to end on May 23, pending a decision by a federal court. The health policy has prevented an estimated 1.7 million immigrants from crossing the southern border into the United States.

County Judge Ricardo Samaniego announced Thursday that the emergency declaration would likely be submitted later that day. The statement came only hours after The New York Post reported that the city of El Paso was also considering declaring a state of emergency. Next week, the city council will vote on the proclamation, which will then be forwarded to the mayor for final approval.

Existing shelters are already at capacity and the declarations would make both the city and the county eligible for state and federal assistance to open more shelters. El Paso is also collaborating with Texas Democrat Representative Veronica Escobar to gain extra federal funding and find potential locations for temporary immigration refuge.

Asylum-seekers have already begun to overwhelm El Paso, Texas’ sixth-largest city. After both the Border Patrol processing center and non-profit shelters ran out of room, more than 100 immigrants were released onto the streets of downtown El Paso on Sunday. If additional shelter space isn’t provided quickly, families with small children may find themselves on the streets, according to Ruben Garcia, the leader of El Paso’s network of immigrant shelters. 

Garcia believes Title 42 expels around 60% of individuals attempting to enter the country, and without it, El Paso will see a flood of people crossing the border. He stated, “I’m hoping the federal government will rise to the occasion,” adding that “If Title 42 is lifted, you’re going to see a wave and it’s clearly going to surpass what NGOs can do.”

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