El Paso, Texas has declared a state of emergency in the wake of a surge of illegal border crossings.
Mayor Oscar Leeser told reporters during a press conference that the emergency declaration will allow officials broader powers to help keep the local community safe, including the use of more buildings to shelter migrants, and increased staff for food and housing.
“We’ve been talking all day of what’s the best way of continuing to make sure that everyone’s safe,” Leeser said. “And as we see the increase in asylum seekers into our community, and we see the temperatures dropping, and we know that Title 42 looks like it’s going to be called back on Wednesday, we felt there was proper time today to call a state of emergency.”
The Dec. 17. announcement came less than a week after a group of more than 1,000 migrants crossed into the U.S. through El Paso, setting a record for the most number of illegal aliens encountered in a single group.
That weekend, more than 2,400 migrants crossed from Mexico into El Paso, according to a statement from Peter Jaquez, who heads the U.S. Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector.
Located just miles away from Mexico’s violent city of Juarez, El Paso has taken the brunt of record high illegal immigration to the U.S.
The city’s Migrant Welcome Center is able to accommodate 400 migrants per day. But, according to a city dashboard, more than 13,000 migrants have been received from Border Patrol officials.
Title 42 is a section of U.S. law that gives the President the ability to restrict entry to the country during a health emergency. It was used in 2020 by the Trump administration following the COVID-19 outbreak and resulted in Border Patrol turning away migrants more than two million times before they could file for asylum.
Last month, a federal judge ruled the government may no longer enforce the rule as of Dec. 21, arguing that it violates the Administrative Procedures Act and calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”
Leeser says that if Title 42 expires this week, authorities are expecting to see caravans of up to 6,000 migrants per day.
El Paso officials are working with state officials and at least one congressional member to secure enough resources to manage the border crisis as winter approaches.