El Paso is on the “cusp of a third wave” of migrant arrivals as local shelters are over capacity, a local nonprofit official told CNN Monday.
The three shelters operated by the nonprofit Opportunity Center for the Homeless have been over capacity for the last three weeks, the organization’s deputy director, John Martin, told CNN, and US Customs and Border Protection are increasing the amount of people released on the streets.
“On Friday we saw 700 street releases. The El Paso Office of Emergency Management had to step in and help with sheltering migrants in hotels,” Martin said.
The street releases are also causing a bottleneck situation: Migrants are staying longer in El Paso because of a lack of resources to get to their destination, Martin said.
The reasons why people immigrate to the US are widely varied, experts say, with some fleeing violence, while others are looking for economic opportunities or to reunite with family members who are already here.
The region has seen a spike in migrants at the border, averaging 1,200 encounters per day, said El Paso Strategic Communications Director Laura Cruz-Acosta. NGOs, city and county officials are seeing over 1,100 people released to the community per day, she added.
The city has provided shelter through hotels “for more than 4,200 migrants over the last seven days,” Cruz-Acosta said.
“The City of El Paso and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) continue to provide overflow emergency sheltering to support local NGOs, the County’s Migrant Services Support Center and receiving direct releases from CBP,” Cruz-Acosta said. “OEM is currently operating hotels with over 900 migrants being provided food and shelter as they secure and await their travel.”
When asked about migrants being released into US cities, CBP said in a statement to CNN the agency “is working according to plan and as part of our standard processes to quickly decompress the areas along the Southwest border, and safely and efficiently screen and process migrants to place them in immigration enforcement proceedings consistent with our laws.”
Southern California has also seen an influx of migrants in recent days.
About 2,000 migrants have arrived in San Diego County over the last several days as aid groups are working to provide them with additional resources, the Immigrant Defenders Law Center – a law firm focused on immigrant communities based in Los Angeles – told CNN.
The number is being reported through intake and aid efforts, spokesperson Alicia Vargas said. There was no pre-planning or notification about the migrants arriving, and most of the migrants need additional aid, she added.
“We have been meeting with federal officials to ensure a safe and coordinated process for the migrants as well as our residents,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in a statement. “As Congress deliberates a government funding package, it is imperative that they include the Biden Administration’s southwest border supplemental appropriations request, which includes $600 million to help our nonprofits with ongoing sheltering and support operations.”
In the city of El Cajon, about 17 miles east of San Diego, mayor Bill Wells called the surge “a disaster.”
“Every emergency room is at capacity in SD County. Our homeless shelters are full. Resources are stretched thin,” Wells said in a post on social media.