EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser issued a disaster declaration in response to an influx of migrants and the impending end to the Title 42 policy.
During a news conference Saturday at City Hall, Leeser said he felt it was time to issue a Declaration of Disaster due to the rising number of migrants currently sleeping outside in freezing temperatures. The Title 42 policy is expected to expire on Dec. 21, and city officials say they expect to see up to 6,000 people arriving a day.
“Talking to some of our federal partners they really believe that on Wednesday our numbers will go to 4-, 5- or 6,000, and when I asked them, I said do you believe that you guys can handle it today, the answer was no. And when I heard the answer was no, I knew we had to do something right away,” Leeser said.
Title 42 is a public health order meant to stop the cross-border spread of COVID-19. It allows border agents to expel certain migrants to Mexico upon encounter. The policy has been widely used by both the Trump and Biden administrations.
On Friday, an appeals court ruled that Title 42 shall remain on track to expire on Wednesday, unless further appeals are filed.
According to the city, staff will be able to use the declaration to request additional resources and support from the state, which includes but is not limited to personnel, shelter, and transportation.
Under the declaration, staff will also set up an Emergency Operations Center and implement emergency management plans to protect the health, safety and welfare of migrants.
Meantime, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been sending out roving teams to assist the migrants that CBP are releasing in Downtown El Paso. The teams are said to be focused on helping people arrange for transportation and offering them shelter to get them out of the elements and cold temperatures.
The declaration will be in effect for seven days from today, during which time the City Council will be called to ratify the declaration.
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