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County leaders discuss plans for possible ending of Title 42

EL PASO, Texas – County commissioners are discussing plans on how they can help with the expected migrant influx with the possible lifting of Title 42 next week.

Title 42, the public health order that allows border patrol agents to expel migrants at the border due to Covid-19 risks, is expected to be lifted on May 23. Non-governmental organizations, like Annunciation House, are worried there will not be enough space to house the number of migrants being released. Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House, said on Wednesday the migrant shelter network in El Paso was already overwhelmed and needed help from the city, county, and federal government.

Commissioners listened to a presentation from Endeavors, a non-profit organization that provides health care, education, and support to low-income families and migrants. The organization is based in San Antonio, TX and has an office in El Paso.

Endeavors provided assistance to the Tornillo Influx Shelter during the migrant surge in 2018 and 2019. More recently, the organization operated family reception centers along the border in 2021, including a hotel in El Paso that was converted to house migrant families.

A report from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General in late April, stated Endeavors "did not meet new healthcare protocols or ensure proper COVID-19 testing for families," and further, "did not follow required ICE standards to ensure the proper care for housing migrant families while such families were residing in its facilities."

A statement from Endeavors said the non-profit "followed appropriate protocols and met the standard of care for migrant families in this contract."

During today's meeting, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said the county needs to be looking for an area to set up a processing facility and a shelter to help the community's NGOs.

“I think we need to be prepared for both," Judge Samaniego said.

No decisions were made today. A spokeswoman with the County Administration said a joint statement from Mayor Oscar Leeser and Judge Samaniego would be released this afternoon with more information regarding the preparations for the possible end of Title 42.

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Dylan McKim


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