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El Paso mayor declares state of emergency in response to migrant surge


El Paso, Texas, Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening following a surge of migrants who have recently arrived in the community and he says are living in unsafe conditions.

The mayor, who had previously declined to issue a state of emergency, said “hundreds” of migrants are on the streets in unsafe conditions while temperatures are beginning to drop, and things could get much worse when a Trump-era border policy is lifted Wednesday, which federal officials expect will lead to an increase in migrant arrivals.

“We know that the influx on Wednesday will be incredible,” the mayor said in a news conference.

Considering all those factors, “we felt it was a proper time today to call a state of emergency,” he added.

Earlier this week, a senior Border Patrol official said more than 2,400 migrants crossed into the US near El Paso daily over the weekend, describing the number as a “major surge in illegal crossings” in the area.

As those numbers climb, Wednesday will mark the court-ordered end of Title 42, a policy which has, since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowed officials to turn away migrants encountered at the southern border.

The deadline has federal officials bracing for a further increase in border crossings.

“I said from the beginning that I would call it when I felt that either our asylum-seekers, or our community, was not safe,” El Paso’s mayor said Saturday. I really believe that today our asylum-seekers are not safe as we have hundreds and hundreds on the streets and that’s not the way we want to treat people.”

The declaration will allow local leaders to request additional resources from the state like personnel shelters and transportation, the city said in a news release.

An Emergency Operations Center will also be activated and emergency management plans will be put in place to help “protect the health, safety and welfare of the migrants and our community.”

This story is developing and will be updated.

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