El Paso Mayor Oscar Leiser declared a state of emergency Saturday in response to the immigration crisis, which has left scores of immigrants sleeping on the streets in recent days. Although Leiser has long resisted issuing an emergency declaration, Saturday’s move would allow the city to get additional resources needed for Title 42 deportations on Dec. 21, which would be required under the Trump-era policy.
It allows Customs and Border Protection to deport immigrants without a simple legal review. The policy, implemented during the pandemic, allowed migrants to be sent back to Mexico or their home countries to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities. Leiser said the catalyst for the decision was the sight of people on downtown streets in sub-freezing temperatures.
“That’s not the way we want people to behave,” Leiser said at a news conference Saturday evening. Daily fears and street releases could rise to 6,000 a day, adding that the increase in migrants after Wednesday is “unbelievable.” El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said the emergency announcement said it would give the city more flexibility to handle larger sheltering operations and provide additional transportation for shelter-seekers.
The city requested additional staff for food and housing operations, additional bus operations, and state law enforcement. “This is for the safety of… community members and everyone involved, ” D’Agostino said. As the number of immigrants continues to rise, additional state resources are critical to ensure there is enough space to shelter those who cannot immediately get out of town.
“We want to make sure we’re prepared for that and we can respond to it, so we want to make sure we’re prepared. This is the next step,” D’Agostino said. The mayor said additional measures were needed to deal with flooding on the streets of downtown El Paso Friday night and early Saturday morning. He spent much of Saturday in conference calls with the county, state, and federal counterparts, setting the stage for the emergency declaration.
Among those he cited as “instrumental” in working with state officials was Texas State Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, who said in a statement Saturday that the “situation has exceeded the capacity of our local governments and set forth Title 42.” expires next week, the demand for resources has increased.” “I support the city of El Paso’s declaration of disaster to activate a whole-of-government approach to address this unprecedented crisis,” he said.