EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – City employees temporarily reassigned to migrant support roles can expect to return to their duties in the near future now that the federal government has begun expelling unsponsored Venezuelan migrants.
“As the numbers start to taper down, we start bring back personnel to their regular job,” Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said Friday. “We hired over 60 people specifically for migrants. We hope to transition where they are handling this in the next few days, so we don’t put that burden on the other departments.”
The city has been providing meals, hotel stays and free bus rides to migrants for the past few weeks due to a surge in migration fueled by unsponsored Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum in the U.S. Border agents in September released some 26,000 Venezuelans to El Paso nonprofits, half of them without sponsors and in need of food, temporary housing and bus rides out of town.
The city set up a welcoming center in Northeast El Paso to route the migrants to their destination on charter buses. It also embedded 50 municipal employees at migrant nonprofit shelters lacking sufficient volunteers and has others preparing meals for migrants at the Salvation Army.
But with the Department of Homeland Security this week deciding to apply Title 42 expulsions to Venezuelans, city officials expect the numbers at its welcoming center to drop.
“It’s going to take 96 hours to get going, seven to 10 days before we wrap it up – let me rephrase that, it’s not a wrap up – until we see this part of it change,” D’Agostino said at a Friday news conference. “And what I mean is coming in without sponsors where we have to stand up the welcome center, where we have to be offering rides to the destination of their choice.”
The welcoming center is part of a COVID-19 care clinic. The deputy city manager said the building will fully revert to its intended use.
“That building is not going to go to waste. it’s going to be going back to its original design because we’re going to be transitioning that building in the long term,” D’Agostino said. “I’m not saying we’re getting out any time soon; we will continue this as long as we have to, but it’s based on those that come over and are unsponsored and need that assistance. I think we’ll get to a point where we will start seeing enough that are coming in that are fully sponsored.”
Federal officials on Friday expelled 200 or more Venezuelan migrants to Juarez, according to video gathered by a KTSM/Border Report crew south of the border.
The migrants can be seen wandering the city and some said they don’t know what they will do next.