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Hundreds of migrants released into El Paso streets; El Paso leaders addressing the situation

EL PASO, Texas -- Hundreds of asylum seekers have been released into the streets of El Paso as a result of local shelters being at capacity. El Paso city and county leaders said they have been addressing the ongoing situation.

An official with Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector said releases are still happening. About 150 migrants were released into the streets of El Paso on Friday.

El Paso city leaders told ABC-7 to address the migrant situation they have opened the doors of a welcome center.

"The city has opened what is called a welcome center, and once we opened the welcome center that was for us to be able to welcome the migrants into our community, into El Paso," Mayor Oscar Leeser said.

The Deputy City Mangager, Mario D'Agostino said the city has stepped up to assist the migrants during this time.

"We are looking at the migrant and what is their need," D'Agostino said.

He said many of the migrants are unsponsored and have no money. He said most have a destination of where they want go arrive.

The leaders said migrants are still being transported out of the city in buses.

D'Agostino said they have been able to handle this crisis with the help of other organizations.

"The NGO's have all stood up, additional rooms, they have opened up their capacity, they open up what are surge hotels. We also opened up numerous hotel rooms and we are actually housing as well. We prefer to keep them in hotels because it is more humane," D'Agostino said.

City officials said the city's goal is to connect the asylum seekers to their final destination in a quick manner.

The city welcome center is taking in 300 people a day.

El Paso City Manager, Tommy Gonzalez, said the city has been able hire about 50 more staff members to help non-governmental organizations and non-profits.

"We treat them like humane beings because that's who they are and we treat individuals the way we would want to," Gonzalez said.

As for the cost of this, the mayor said it won't come out of the taxpayers. Officials say they are also talking with national leaders to ensure they get the needed funding.

"We are getting reimbursed from FEMA, so it's not really impacting the taxpayers of El Paso," the mayor said.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the county has also opened up their own processing center to address the ongoing situation.

He said he has reached out to local organizations to help take in the migrants. Judge Samaniego said the biggest obstacle is the lack of volunteers.

He said he is dedicated to help people get off of the streets.

"It was very uncomfortable because we had made a commitment that people should not be in the street because they can prey on them and be victimized," Samaniego said.

An official with Border Patrol in the El Paso Sector said 133 migrants were released this Wednesday. Another 350 were released on Thursday.

Carlos Rivera, a spokesperson with the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, told ABC-7 they worked with ICE, local government officials and non-government organizations "to decompress the high capacity of migrants in the holding at the El Paso Sector's Central Processing Center."

Officials said that once those options are exhausted, provisional releases in the community are considered.

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Rosemary Montañez

ABC-7 Reporter


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