EL PASO, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced two significant immigration changes in the first day of the Biden administration that could impact the Borderland.
A new 100-day moratorium on deportations for some undocumented immigrants is in place, and migrants seeking asylum in the United States will no longer be forced to wait in Mexico while they wait to have their cases heard.
On Thursday evening, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took issue with the moves.
"Yesterday you ordered a blanket halt on nearly all deportations of illegal aliens. This complete abdication of the Department of Homeland Security’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law is unlawful and will seriously and irreparably harm the State of Texas and its citizens," Paxton said.
El Paso city officials tell ABC-7 they are preparing for a new migrant surge, even as the new moves by the Biden administration come under question.
"That is why we have been coordinating over the past few months with our federal partners its in anticipation of these and seeing the burden it is going to place on the community especially during this pandemic," El Paso Fire Chief Mario D'Agostino said. "The housing, the sheltering, the feeding, the transportation issues - all of that has to be considered. So, we are reaching out to our federal partners, we are having communication with them."
Many in the Borderland remember the summer of 2019 as a difficult year marred with massive caravans of migrants seeking asylum. City officials are preparing for a possible repeat making this challenge even more daunting is the threat of Covid-19.
"It is a demand, that is why we are meeting. We've been making sure it's ramping up in case we have to take on this task again," D'Agostino said.
Adding to the challenge will be making sure the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak will be minimal.
"It will be a health concern to have people in a congregate setting, that includes correctional facilities, detention facilities etc., and that has been one of the concerns not only for Covid but also influenza and some other infectious diseases," Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the El Paso City/County Health Authority said.