EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Officials with the City of El Paso say they have not spoken to the county about its new migrant processing facility near the airport.
The County of El Paso is set to open up the migrant processing facility next Monday. It’s for migrants who have been paroled by immigration officials and who have sponsors in the U.S., County Judge Ricardo Samaniego judge said Wednesday as he and county officials prepared to give reporters a tour.
Samaniego said U.S. Customs and Border Protection will drop off migrants who have sponsors at the facility, adding that this would help the city not to have to handle as many individuals, as the city itself recently opened a processing facility to assist migrants, including those who don’t have sponsors.
But the city said the county hasn’t communicated its plans.
“The county has not talked to us,” a city spokesperson said shortly after a story about the new facility aired on KTSM 9 News.
“The county, obviously, this is our lane that we want to be known for to help the city with what they have to do,” Samaniego said.
KTSM 9 News asked Samaniego how the county facility will get the migrants who have sponsors and if they would be coming from the city’s facility.
“As soon as CBP recognizes that they have a sponsor they know how to channel them here,” Samaniego said. “The moment that the city recognizes, and somebody says, ‘Well ‘I have a sponsor I don’t need to…’ then they channel them over here. And they’re able to get Ubers; they’re able to get different ways of getting to the center.”
Here is the original story going over the initial conversation about the new migrant facility: County facility for migrants with sponsors set to open Monday | KTSM 9 News
However, shortly after the story aired on KTSM 9 News, the City of El Paso reached out saying that they have been told by CBP that CBP cannot separate migrants who are sponsored from those who aren’t.
“In conversations with them (CBP) they have told us repeatedly that it could not be done. That that wasn’t one of their screening questions, it wasn’t part of their process, and they couldn’t separate sponsored and unsponsored,” Mario D’Agostino, El Paso Deputy City Manager, told KTSM Wednesday evening.
D’Agostino explains that there has not been communication from the county.
“There has been no communications where the city was going to send sponsored over to a different processing center and that just adds more work to the load,” D’Agostino said.
During the tour of the county facility on Wednesday afternoon, and prior to the city reaching out, KTSM 9 News did ask Samaniego if he has been in communication with the city.
“We know our strategy right, I’m in communication with the mayor on the daily if not twice, three times a day,” he said.
Samaniego said the goal is to help reduce the number of migrants the Border Patrol has to drop off on the streets of El Paso, which includes hundreds that were left at the Greyhound bus station last month in Downtown El Paso.
“We get that email at 5 in the morning, and I look down really quickly to see, ‘no street releases,'” he said.
After speaking with the city, KTSM 9 News reached out to Samaniego, and he has yet to return our phone calls.