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ICE brings migrants to the bus stop for a day of sanctuary



EL PASO – Hundreds of asylum seekers spend part of Christmas Eve at a downtown parking lot, not knowing where to land next.

Immigration and customs officials dropped off migrants late Sunday at a local bus station, without warning of local shelters, which would normally accommodate large groups after they applied for asylum and were released by federal officials.

About 200 people arrived on Sunday and around 200 more arrived on Monday – the total could exceed 800 by Wednesday, according to MEP Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso.

Normally ICE alerted the Annuncations House, a local animal shelter that has taken in tens of thousands of migrants and has several locations in this border town. But that did not happen on Sunday night, said O & Rourke.

"Our challenge is that ICE has not given us enough heads to have these beds ready so you do not have migrants on the sidewalk, in a parking lot or in a bus stop, or in a Sun Metro bus," O Rourke told reporters in the parking lot of a local park about a block west of the bus stop.

Rep. Beto O & Rourke.
William Philpott / Reuters

O Rourke said that when the shelters are full, there is a coordinated effort with the urban emergency management to set up temporary shelters and the emergency shelter ICE usually informs local responders 24 hours a day.

The accommodations are fully occupied, but volunteers and workers can usually find temporary accommodation if they are sufficiently terminated.

The crashes come when the government is in the midst of partial standstill over a dispute in the US Congress over the financing of the planned boundary wall of President Donald Trump. ICE did not respond immediately to a request for a comment on Monday, and it is unclear what role the stalemate played in the situation.

El Paso Sector of the US Border Guard, the agency that first adopts migrants between the ports of entry on their arrival in the United States, said their public information offices would not be available during standstill on Friday. In October, ICE released more than 200 asylum seekers on the streets of El Paso, saying the agency could not hold them for more than a few days.

O & Rourke said he and his staff had been in contact with the ICE, Customs and Border Guard offices and would do anything to ensure that migrants are housed in shelters or hotels – at least temporarily – until they On the way there are their final goals.

"I know that the people who work with ICE, CBP, and Annunciation House want to do the righteous, and I hope [after] we can do what is necessary in the conversations we have had and will have is. "

When Mariel Mendez, 28, met her two-year-old son Marcelo at Downtown Firefighters Memorial Park, she said she was not sure what she would do next.

"We hope to call family in Tennessee," she said in Spanish. "But we have not heard anything yet, they simply dropped us off without instructions." The two traveled by bus from Honduras for a month before arriving in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, before crossing the Rio Grande and surrendering to themselves.

Mariel Mendez, 28, is sitting in a park in downtown El Paso Eve 2018 with her son for Christmas. Asylum seekers from Honduras who ate volunteer food were among a group of hundreds of ICE who were released at a bus stop.
Julián Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

[19659002] On the announcement site's Facebook page, officials said they could protect the migrants who arrived on Sunday through their network of partner volunteers. She asked the public for donations, food and new clothes.

By Monday afternoon, it was clear that the call was answered when several El Pasoans arrived near the bus station, where they were provided with food, water, clothing, and stuffed animals for the children.

"We went to Sam's earlier today to buy a whole lot of food, but it was not enough," said El Pasoan Javier Grajeda. "So we had to get some dollar burgers from McDonalds."

Grajeda, an oilfield engineer working in Midland, said he might be late for his planned Christmas dinner, but he could not turn his back on his church. The cold weather – predictions for low 40s Monday night – are also a problem, he said.

"We brought some blankets, but that's not enough," he said. "It's not right for them to do this on a short-term basis, there are volunteers, but they need enough time" to act.


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