As the high-stakes immigration debates rage nationally over walls, U.S. border troops, caravans and a federal government shutdown, crowded buses rolled into the downtown Greyhound station in El Paso. That’s where hundreds of migrant asylum-seekers were sent after federal detention centers hit full capacity as more and more people squeeze into ill-equipped border stations.
U.S. authorities released more than 1,500 migrants this week in El Paso alone, including 522 on Wednesday, the largest single-day release. The scene in El Paso is being played out at many locations along the Texas and Arizona border. Church shelters recently have been taking in about 2,200 to 2,300 migrants a week.
“I am really, really disappointed when my government does things like this,” Ruben Garcia, executive director of Annunciation House, an immigrant shelter that coordinates local migrant assistance efforts, said of the mass release. “The bottom line is you don’t release families with young children to the streets.”
But the churches that host people remain overloaded. Without way stations like Annunciation, says newly elected U.S. Rep.- Veronica Escobar, (D-Texas), migrants who have been processed by ICE would end up on the streets homeless, hungry and without support.
Garcia said immigration holding facilities on the border were initially set up to hold men — not families. “It’s inappropriate to be holding families in holding cells.” Garcia added that he had heard that women, especially those pregnant, were being released due to crowding at the women’s detention area of one immigration detention center in El Paso. Read more