No migrant surge observed in El Paso, Texas, after end of Title 42

By Jorge Fuentelsaz

El Paso, Texas, May 12 (EFE).- This US border city’s downtown area and its shelters saw a much lower-than-expected influx of migrants Friday following the end of Title 42.

Thursday night’s expiration of that controversial measure – a pandemic-era policy that had allowed border agents to quickly expel migrants and asylum seekers for public health reasons – had prompted concerns about a flood of new undocumented arrivals.

But John Martin, director of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, a shelter that just three days ago was housing nearly 1,000 undocumented migrants, told Efe the pace at which new migrants were arriving on Friday was far slower than anticipated.

That shelter is now providing refuge to 183 migrants, 102 of whom arrived on Thursday, Martin said.

Arturo Diaz, one of the shelter’s directors, confirmed that the sharp reduction occurred after authorities promised to assist the migrants and successfully convinced them to turn themselves in to immigration authorities en masse.

“Unfortunately, we found out they deported several (migrants),” he said at the Opportunity Center’s offices. “We don’t know why, but they’d said it was those who had a criminal record. I don’t know.”

Those impressions are consistent with remarks made by the chief operating officer at the US Customs and Border Protection agency, Blas Nuñez-Neto, who said the government has not detected a substantial increase in migrant crossings in the first few hours since Title 42 expired.

He said, however, that it is still too early to provide official figures.

“Overnight, we saw similar patterns to what we’ve seen over the past several days. We continue to encounter high levels of non-citizens at the border, but we did not see a substantial increase overnight or an influx at midnight,” Nuñez-Neto said.

Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said for his part that the flow of migrants has fallen since Thursday night, while El Paso’s mayor, Democrat Oscar Leeser, confirmed that fewer migrants have been seen arriving at that section of the US-Mexico border, which had experienced the heaviest influx of asylum seekers over the past six months.

A large number of migrants had arrived in the two weeks prior to the expiration of Title 42, implemented at the start of the pandemic by then-President Donald Trump’s administration, because they had the impression – and unfortunately had been told by others – that if they arrived before it ended they would be able to stay in the United States and obtain political asylum, the mayor said.

Leeser said a total of 1,800 migrants were apprehended on Thursday in the El Paso Sector, most of whom were picked up at Gate 40 and Gate 42 of the border wall and were taken to Border Patrol centers for processing.

He added that over the past 24 hours local shelters and hotels outfitted to receive migrants have received 150 migrants who had undergone initial processing.

El Paso officials on Wednesday inaugurated a migrant shelter at Bassett Middle School, where an armed security guard barred reporters from approaching the facility.

Among the migrants released Thursday with documentation showing they have the green light to continue their asylum processes was Kevin Padron, a 22-year-old Venezuelan who hopes to become a chef.

Padron slept on a sidewalk last night near the Sacred Heart Church in downtown El Paso. He said he was detained on May 4 and released Thursday and has not traveled yet because a friend who was going to help him has not answered the telephone.

“Let’s see if they send me money. If not, I’ll wait and see if I can work for a bit and then continue on,” Padron said, adding that he plans to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, and achieve the “American dream, as they call it” in that city. EFE


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