Roughly 20,000 migrants are waiting to cross the border into El Paso, Texas, as soon as the Trump-era Title 42 program ends, Mayor Oscar Leeser said on Monday.
"We’ve been talking to some of the partners in Mexico, and we’re talking also to the Border Patrol and those are the numbers that have been fed back to us," said Leeser. "The shelters in [Ciudad] Juarez are completely full today, and they believe there are about 20,000 people ready to come into El Paso."
Leeser, a Democrat, added that his office has been working with local agencies to ensure that the city is prepared to handle the wave of illegal immigrants.
Title 42 allowed Border Patrol agents to turn illegal aliens back to their country immediately if they were deemed to pose a health threat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
El Paso Declares State of EmergencyThe policy, which was set to end on Dec. 21, has been used millions of times to expel aliens since March 2020 and has prompted fears among officials that cities and states could soon be overwhelmed with immigrants.
Preliminary Customs and Border Protection data shared with The Epoch Times shows that El Paso and Del Rio in Texas, two of the busiest sectors along the border, apprehended 70,288 illegal aliens between Dec. 1 through Dec. 19. An additional 28,913 "getaways," or those who evaded arrest, were also reported.
In order to help deal with the increased number of illegal aliens, Leeser declared a state of emergency, granting the city more resources and authority to shelter those who have crossed the southern border.
An emergency operations center will also be opened to help manage the situation, Leeser said.
Supreme Court Puts Title 42 End on HoldOn Nov. 16, a federal judge ruled that Title 42 was unlawful and ordered the Biden administration to end it by Dec. 21. Republican states promptly filed a motion seeking to stay the order but that order was denied late on Dec. 16 by a federal appeals court.
The GOP-led states, including Arizona, Louisiana, and Texas, filed an emergency application seeking to reverse the lower court’s decision, just days before the policy was set to expire, noting that removing it would "needlessly endanger more Americans and migrants by exacerbating the catastrophe that is occurring at our southern border."
Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat, said the increased number of illegal aliens arriving in the city, mostly from Central and South America, is placing extreme pressure on the city's efforts to shelter them and leading to limited space. The situation is being further exacerbated by staffing issues and winter weather, according to Hancock.
"It is at a crisis point right now and cities all over this country are being forced to deal with something we’re not equipped to deal with," Hancock said.