EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Downtown El Paso business owners are raising concerns over migrants around their shops.
Two shop owners on El Paso Street in Downtown say they are closing up shop early due to those concerns.
“We are closing early now because, you know, as soon as it starts to get dark, my employees don’t feel safe walking by themselves,” said Heidy Seoenz, whose family owns Uno Plus on El Paso Street.
The owner of another business on El Paso Street said she is also closing early but even has concerns during the day.
“I was coming to open my shop, and this is the middle of the day, early morning, and the gentlemen… there was maybe seven, eight of them on the corner and just instead of the usual cat calls they started purring,” said Darlene Escandon, the owner of Jane and Jenson.
Escandon taking KTSM crews to the alley behind her shop saying migrants sleep in the alleyway showing trash and cardboard that’s been left behind and a burned trashcan.
The El Paso Police Department says they understand there might be some concerns among business owners.
“Our department is also increasing patrols to ensure a visible law enforcement presence. We encourage open communication between our department and the community,” said a portion of a statement from El Paso Police Department spokesperson Adrian Cisneros.
EPPD says businesses can implement strategies to increase their safety including installing surveillance systems, improving lighting and reporting suspicious activity.
EPPD also said that the crime rate in Downtown El Paso remains relatively low compared to the city average.
KTSM crews did see multiple police units along El Paso Street and San Jacinto Plaza Tuesday night.
Additionally, on Tuesday on two separate occasions, migrants from Venezuela approached our crews in Downtown El Paso to say they didn’t want to give the community a negative impression.
One man said he wanted to help clean up the areas being used by the migrants and asked for a number to contact the city.
Another man from Venezuela named Kelvin said the reason migrants are gathering around what he called “this beautiful area” referring to Mills Street near the Paso Del Norte Hotel and San Jacinto Plaza is because it makes them feel safe, saying that the area is well lit compared to dark areas around Downtown.
“The fact that we’re here, we’d rather have a home and be relaxed. We don’t want to affect other people or give a bad impression,” said Kelvin from Venezuela.
Migrants could be seen being picked up by buses in San Jacinto Plaza on Tuesday night. The City of El Paso confirmed that 350 people were moved to hotels and to Nations Tobin Park which has been converted into an emergency shelter.