EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – With migrant encounters way down along the border and some shelters already empty, the City of El Paso will allow a 30-day disaster declaration to expire in the next few days.
“We are going to let this lapse. We don’t believe this is required or necessary at this point,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “If another emergency declaration is required, we’ll go to you (Mayor Oscar Leeser) to see that you declare it.”
The council on Dec. 23 issued a 30-day disaster declaration due to a “humanitarian, economic and security crisis” resulting from mass migration through El Paso. Thousands of migrants were surrendering to border agents back then, days before the expected termination of federal Title 42 expulsions keeping some asylum-seekers away. Shelters were full and immigration officials were forced to release hundreds of paroled foreign nationals on the streets.
The emergency declaration allowed the city to call for state resources and drew the eyes of the nation to the struggles of local governments to fill in the gaps in feeding, housing and transporting migrants. The city spent $9.87 million on migrants last year and has received $6 million in federal reimbursements, the city’s online Migrant Dashboard showed on Tuesday.
Mass migration plummeted in the region after the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 27 put the end of public-health related migrant expulsions possibly through June, and the Texas Army National Guard extended a temporary barbwire fence along the Rio Grande facing neighboring Juarez, Mexico.
Leeser noted no migrants have been released onto El Paso streets “for weeks now.” Gonzalez said two elementary schools made available to the city as emergency migrant shelter by the El Paso Independent School District have no migrants anymore.
The emergency declaration “is on till the 22nd, but I’ve talked to (City Attorney Karla) Nieman and Mr. Gonzalez and we don’t feel we need it at this point. So, we’re not looking to renew it,” Leeser said.
The city will continue to operate under a local emergency ordinance that allows it to reassign staff to support migrant services organizations. Those organizations are still receiving from federal immigration agencies an average of 185 paroled migrants per day.