Editors Note: This story has been updated to reflect that bedbugs were not found inside Sacred Heart Church but in the general area of where migrants are camped outside.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Migrants continue to congregate and sleep outside of Sacred Heart Church in South El Paso 10 days ahead of when Title 42 is expected to be lifted.
The City of El Paso confirmed a case of chickenpox at Sacred Heart Church and a case of bed bugs in the general area around the church.
The City and County Public Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza asked the community not to “panic.”
“Some of these conditions might just be confined to these congregate settings and it’s not going to be spreading to the rest of the community,” Ocaranza said. “And if we detect any outbreaks out in the community in a specific location, then we will provide recommendations.”
KTSM 9 News asked Ocaranza about migrants from other countries having up-to-date vaccinations.
“The basic immunization schedules in many countries doesn’t include chickenpox and we start seeing some chickenpox. But what it is polio, what it is measles, diphtheria, tetanus, proctitis, all those they receive the vaccinations,” Ocaranza said. “And many countries in Latin America have higher immunization rates than the United States.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency on Sunday to deal with the influx of migrants expected once Title 42 is lifted.
The mayor’s declaration also included a camping ban.
“When we talk about not wanting camping in the streets and enforcing those laws, it’s so we don’t have these large gatherings where people can go and take advantage of them,” Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said.
Migrants camping outside of Sacred Heart Church is not new. As we reported back in December and January, migrants were camped out there at that time.
One man from Venezuela tells KTSM 9 News that he crossed the border between ports of entry and was not processed by Border Patrol but it’s not his first time in El Paso.
“Back in December, they had a very impressive humane quality. But lately one can’t even cross the street because Border Patrol is on you,” Braulio Ramirez said.
“Sincerely I don’t have any family member here. I’m the only one in my family that has tried it and I keep fighting for my family. My dream is to have a permit here so that I can be in the United States,” Ramirez said.
The Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services (DMRS) says migrants feel safe close to the church.
“Churches are areas that immigration law enforcement won’t go into, so people have this feeling, this sense that the church, is a safe place so that’s why people tend to congregate around Sacred Heart Church Downtown,” Melissa M. Lopez, the executive director for DMRS.