EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Nearly 1,000 cots are ready at the El Paso Convention Center, which was transformed into a migrant shelter on Wednesday.
What is best described as a sea of cots, a large hall divided by gain black curtains is already filling up with migrants as of Wednesday late afternoon.
“We want to make sure they are out of the elements, they’re safe, they’re secure, there’s security here and they’ll have meals provided,” said Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino.
The city started working on this shelter after issuing a disaster declaration, which allows access to state funds, due to migrants sleeping on the streets in the cold.
D’Agostino said they are hoping to bring as many migrants as possible and gain their trust, as some of them were victims of crime while waiting to cross in Mexico.
While the shelter’s capacity is at about 1,000 at the moment, D’Agostino explained it is expandable base on the need.
“The reason why we did not expand from the get-go is because we don’t know what the population is truly going to be,” he said adding how families, single men and single women will be staying in separated areas.
The shelter also has a designated dining area, Internet access and 24-hour security provided by El Paso Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
D’Agostino explained that the sponsored migrants will be provided assistance to reach their destination, including transportation with charter buses into larger hubs like Houston or Dallas.
The city has also partnered up with El Paso Independent School District, allowing access to their two vacant school properties to be used as shelters.
D’Agostino said preparations are already in place at the former Bassett Middle School in Central El Paso and former Morehead Middle School in West El Paso.
“We’re looking at possibly taking a position on Friday morning on the first one [Bassett] and mid next week on the second one [Morehead],” said D’Agostino explaining they will providing the same amenities at those shelters as well.
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