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El Paso County Commissioners address migrant surge in El Paso streets; give update on county processing center

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso County Commissioners are set to discuss the increase of migrants in El Paso County.

An emergency item was added to Thursday's agenda in response to the surge of asylum seekers entering our region.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have released hundreds of migrants to the streets as a result of local shelters being at full capacity.

El Paso County leaders are discussing the future of as county processing center. County officials said it would be referred to as "Migrant Support Center." Officials said it would be a more permanent solution.

County leaders were not able to disclose the location of the center. However, they said about 600 migrants could be processed daily.

Officials said migrants who are sent to that processing center will have sponsors and will likely know their final destination.

Additionally, county leaders are also looking at opening a separate processing center and a housing shelter at a joint location. The proposed location is the El Paso County Coliseum.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told ABC-7 it would be a perfect location for multiple reasons. He said since the county owns the Coliseum, it won't be as expensive.

The areas that would be used would be the judging arena and the pavilion.

Judge Samaniego told ABC-7, the County Coliseum will be beneficial since it will move migrants from under the Paso Del Norte bridge. Currently, CBP officials are processing migrants there.

"Border Patrol is really, really excited about the fact. It is extremely compressed and difficult for them to work, so moving them to the Coliseum will allow more space," the judge said.

Judge Samaniego said they will be visiting nearby neighborhoods to talk to residents soon.

"We are going to be talking to the neighborhoods and explaining what we are going to do, so that they don’t feel like they are going to have an issue or a challenge there," he said.

The judge said the County Coliseum would help decompress Border Patrol agents and give them more space.

"It will really take off the pressure off of this being under the bridge-like focus. It would eliminate people standing," he said.

The Coliseum would also have short-term housing for the migrants. Migrants could be housed there 1-2 days there.

The county would be reimbursed by FEMA. Conversations are ongoing about FEMA providing the county the funds early. Officials are sending FEMA a $2,000,000 proposal.

This coming Monday, county officials will be decided on a location for the permanent Migrant Support Center and who will be managing it. Discussion will also continue on the El Paso County Coliseum on Monday.

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Rosemary Montañez

ABC-7 Reporter

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