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City: ICE admits ‘mistake’ in releasing hundreds of migrants without notice

The City of El Paso Friday held a news conference to explain what the city’s involvement has been since the unscheduled release of hundreds of migrants at a downtown Greyhound station on Sunday.

The city also said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials admitted the agency made a mistake in the way it handled the situation.

El Paso Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino and Deputy Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Jorge Rodriguez were on hand for Friday’s news conference.

D’Agostino says the city has been in contact with ICE and other federal agencies to better coordinate the release of hundreds of migrants.

“During the past week when we’ve had these unscheduled releases, the city manager and myself have had conference calls with ICE officials, state officials, trying to let them know that the unscheduled releases is not good for the community,” D’Agostino said. “It places an undue burden on our NGO (Non-governmental organization) who is doing a wonderful job.”

That NGO is the Annunciation House, a shelter that works with ICE to house migrants seeking asylum in the U.S..

Typically an NGO, like the Annunciation House, would be notified by ICE at least a day prior to the agency releasing the migrants.

That gives Annunciation House enough time to find shelter for the migrants.

Ruben Garcia, the executive director of Annunciation House, said during Friday’s news conference that his organization and ICE are back to the normal process.

Friday, Garcia was informed by ICE that the agency was set to release 345 migrants.

“I already received the text informing me what the exact number will be and where should these individuals be taken,” Garcia said. “I then send a text back saying take so many to this hospitality site and they do that.”

Jorge Rodriguez, is El Paso’s Emergency Management Coordinator.

“We’re back to the normal, regular coordinated release of these migrants with Annunciation House and we haven’t had any issues since,” Rodriguez said.

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