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El Paso International Airport crowded with migrants waiting for flights

EL PASO, Texas -- Hundreds of migrants are staying at the El Paso International Airport overnight to wait for their early-morning flights, and city officials fear the numbers will continue to grow during this recent migrant surge.

Deputy City Manager Mario D'Agostino said between 500 and 600 migrants were staying in the airport every night over the weekend as they waited for their flights.

“But those numbers continue to climb, and that will be a concern. I mean, there’s only so much footprint there. We have a lot of travel going on. There is numerous people looking to get in and out of town, and this is just above and beyond that right now," D'Agostino said during a news conference on Tuesday.

The city has a plan to bus some migrants to larger nearby-travel hubs, like Dallas and Denver, to take the burden off of El Paso's lone airport.

This would be different from El Paso's busing program that sent thousands of Venezuelans to far-away locations like New York City. Venezuelan migrants were "unsponsored," meaning they did not have any money or a place to go once they crossed the border. The migrants being bused to larger travel hubs would be sponsored.

“They have a means to get to where they’re going; we’re just going to connect them with a transportation hub so they can get there," D'Agostino said.

The newest busing program would be a part of the city's action plan once Title 42 is lifted, which is supposed to happen on Dec. 21.

The city is asking the federal government for $4.7 million of upfront-funding to address the influx of migrants and execute their plan. That money would allow them to open their Welcome Center once again and serve 600 migrants a day.

The airport has a policy that says anyone waiting for a flight can stay in the airport for only 12 hours. The city is asking migrants who have flights days in advance to find either a shelter or a hotel to stay in before their flight.

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Dylan McKim


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