As federal immigration authorities continue to release migrants by the thousands, El Paso officials and local charities are near a breaking point in the sprawling border city.
Large groups of migrants, including a large contingent of Nicaraguans who crossed the border on Sunday, have been streaming across the Rio Grande in recent days. U.S. Border Patrol facilities housed more than 5,000 people on Wednesday and roughly 1,700 migrants were released, according to data from the City of El Paso.
“We’ve never seen migration numbers to this extent and for such a sustained period,” said Mario D’Agostino, the city’s deputy city manager for public safety in a briefing this week.
“My country is hard; there’s no work and our president is very bad,” Katherine Urbina, a 28-year-old from Nicaragua who was traveling with relatives and friends, said of why she came to the U.S. now. “We can’t buy rice and beans. If you buy one, you can’t buy the other.”
Ms. Urbina said she and relatives were part of the large group that crossed on Sunday and spent several hours standing on the U.S. side of the river, waiting to surrender to Border Patrol so they could ask for asylum.
It is unclear what triggered the latest wave of migrants, but authorities suspect the impending end of Title 42, may be a factor. The law was first used at the border by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic to block most migrants from being allowed into the U.S. to apply for asylum. Federal authorities have warned that its end could, at least initially, lead to a significant rise in border crossings.