Dec 17 (Reuters) – The mayor of the Texas border city of El Paso declared a state of emergency on Saturday, citing hundreds of migrants sleeping rough in freezing temperatures, with thousands daily arrested.
Democratic Mayor Oscar Leeser said the emergency declaration would give the city the resources and capacity to provide sanctuary to migrants crossing the Mexican border.
“We want to make sure that people are treated with dignity. We want to make sure that everyone is safe,” Lisse told reporters.
The move comes as El Paso, a Democratic stronghold with a history of welcoming immigrants, has struggled in recent months with tens of thousands of migrants crossing the Mexican border. The city is bracing for a possible surge in immigration after a U.S. judge ordered COVID-era border restrictions, known as Title 42, to end by Dec. 12. twenty one.
Record numbers of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under Democratic President Joe Biden, who takes office in January 2021, have intensified attacks from Republican opponents who favor tougher policies.
U.S. border agents encountered an average of more than 2,400 migrants per day over the past week within the 268-mile border known as the El Paso District, a 40% increase from October, according to data released by the city.
Even as government officials moved immigrants from El Paso to other U.S. cities, local shelters were stretched to capacity and migrants had been sleeping rough as temperatures dropped below freezing.
Mario D’Agostino, El Paso’s deputy city manager, said the emergency declaration would also provide the city with additional transportation options for taking buses to other locations and obtaining approval from state law enforcement. extra help.
As the number of immigrants increased in late August, the city launched a bus program to send nearly 14,000 migrants to New York and Chicago, saying many Venezuelans arrived without U.S. sponsors.
D’Agostino said Thursday that when the Biden administration began deporting Venezuelans back to Mexico under Section 42, the city halted the program in October, but that if Venezuelans are allowed to enter El Paso again, the city will The program may be restarted.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday rejected an attempt by some U.S. state and Republican attorneys general to intervene in the lawsuit to preserve Section 42. States can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reporting by Tim Reid and Ted Hessen Editing by Chris Reese and Michael Perry
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