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Migrant crossings fall in rural New Mexico, increase in urban El Paso areas

As the number of migrants entering the Antelope Well Port of Entry in rural New Mexico has decreased, larger groups of migrants are coming to urban areas of El Paso, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

“From October until about January that was the hot spot for seeing large groups of people,” said Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero.

“El Paso is already seeing an increase in numbers, though not the what we’ve been seeing over the last few here, but as Antelope Wells has stopped moving a lot of that activity has moved to the urban area of El Paso,” Romero said.

On Wednesday, March 6, a record-setting group of nearly 1,000 migrants were detained over a 24-hour period at gates along South El Paso.

Romero told ABC-7 a shortage in staffing is their biggest issue as the agency deals with the migrant surge.

“The numbers we’re seeing have been consistently like this for some time. As the numbers continue to rise it does put a stress and a strain on our resources,” Romero said.

According to Romero, the groups of migrants are coming to gates all across the urban area of El Paso randomly. Romero stated that the groups of migrants are being moved strategically by cartel groups to draw Border Patrol agents.

Romero also said that the fence built in El Paso as a part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was built to slow illegal crossings, typically by adult males, and buy agents more time.

“As we move on to what we’re seeing now, the influx of people and family units and children…(the fence) also provides us a secondary ability to contain people in a certain area and not have those gaps and security, while it allows our agents to respond to other threats,” Romero said.

Migrants may ask for asylum when they are taken into custody by Border Patrol agents but they are not allowed to make that determination.

“That gets turned over to ICE…Our portion is the interdiction and the processing of the illegal crossing,” Romero said.

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