El Paso, Texas ‘At a Breaking Point’ Amid Jump in Illegal Immigration, Mayor Says

By Reuters
September 24, 2023Border Security
El Paso, Texas ‘At a Breaking Point’ Amid Jump in Illegal Immigration, Mayor Says
Migrants sleep on the street after being released from U.S. Border Patrol custody in downtown El Paso, Texas, on Sept. 12, 2023. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

The dramatic increase in illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico has pushed the city of El Paso, Texas, to “a breaking point,” with more than 2,000 people per day seeking asylum, exceeding shelter capacity and straining resources, its mayor said on Saturday.

“The city of El Paso only has so many resources and we have come to … a breaking point right now,” Mayor Oscar Leeser said at a news conference.

The arrival of largely Venezuelan asylum seekers is part of a larger swell of illegal immigrants who traveled dangerous routes on buses and cargo trains to Mexican border towns near San Diego, California, and the Texas cities of El Paso and Eagle Pass.

Mr. Lesser said El Paso plans to open a new shelter, and on Saturday chartered five buses to take the illegal immigrants to New York, Chicago, and Denver.

Republican governors in Texas and Florida have been criticized for sending illegal immigrants to cities perceived as liberal such as New York and Sacramento. But Mr. Leeser, a Democrat, said all of the illegal immigrants on the El Paso buses were going voluntarily to the cities of their choice.

Mr. Leeser said that President Joe Biden had been a good partner, but he said the overall U.S. immigration system was broken.

Many illegal immigrants from Venezuela, he said, lacked transportation to their desired destinations, while El Paso’s current shelter houses only 400 people, and must also be available to help the homeless.

As recently as six weeks ago, about 350 to 400 people were crossing into El Paso per day, but the past few days have brought 2,000 or more.

Over the past 10 days, the city has worked with the U.S. Border Patrol to provide shelter for 6,500 people, Mr. Leeser said.

About two-thirds of those crossing into El Paso currently are single men, he said. About 32 percent are families and just 2 percent are unaccompanied children.

“I think it’s really important to note that we have a broken immigration system,” he said. “It’s the same thing over and over again.”

By Sharon Bernstein

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