The surge of illegals flooding the borders has put a massive strain on the already overloaded Border Patrol. Federal agencies have redirected agents to deal with a growing wave of migrants, and the president is threatening to close the border. Meanwhile, local shelters face a daily dilemma: 500 to 600 new arrivals who need somewhere to go.
Eduardo Talamantes talks about his long-ago military service the same way he does his volunteer service at a migrant shelter today: He downplays the importance of both.
“I was below the water line,” he said of his four-year service in the U.S. Navy that began in 1969. “Here, they call me the ‘shower guy.’”
The surge has had volunteers and shelter directors scrambling for weeks to ensure that migrants have places to go once they are released from custody. Ruben Garcia, the director of the Annunciation House, which operates a network of migrant shelters across the city, said his organization has spent about $1 million in five months just on hotel space to make sure migrants don’t sleep on the streets. Garcia only needs the hotels when the roughly two dozen shelters are at capacity. The vast majority of migrants don’t spend much time in El Paso before they leave for other destinations around the U.S.
But DHS announced a policy shift last week that could put more pressure on an already strained safety net: Instead of transferring migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for processing after they are apprehended, Border Patrol agents are now releasing many migrants directly to the shelters.
Declaring “our country is full,” President Donald Trump on Friday insisted the U.S. immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border, AP reported.
Trump, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier — and not new wall.