EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – One-thousand five-hundred Haitian migrants who crossed the U.S. border at Del Rio, Texas, have arrived in El Paso since Friday. And 500 more are expected to land here every day for the next few days, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said Monday morning.
However, all those migrants have been placed on the federal Title 42 protocols and are either back in their country or on the way there, he said.
“Five-hundred a day, that’s very manageable […] but if it becomes greater, we’d have to move them into our shelters,” Samaniego told Border Report. “As long as we use Title 42, it’s going to work. When we’re not able to … get them back to their country, then we’ll obviously take that flow into our community, which is something we don’t want because we’re not capable of managing them … that’s not the right way to handle the situation.”
The Haitians being flown to El Paso were part of the multitude that crossed the U.S. border without authorization at Del Rio last week with the intent of seeking asylum. Federal officials are now trying to prevent further crossings and have started flying some of the migrants housed under a bridge near the Rio Grande to other Texas cities, including El Paso, for processing.
Samaniego said El Paso has a reputation as a “beacon” for migrants because of its proactive social services nonprofits and a good working relationship between local and federal authorities. But there’s only so much this community can do given the daily flow from Mexico, the recent arrival of Afghan refugees and, now, hundreds of Haitians. Altogether, the city has seen more than 250,000 migrants pass through in the past few years alone, he said.
“Unfortunately, I think the system does get abused because (other cities) depend on us to process them and get them moving in the right direction,” he said. “The tipping point would be if we receive more of them […] If that happens, we would go from ‘manageable’ to a crisis because then we’d end up with 10,000 to 12,000 Haitians in our community.”
Up to 10,000 Afghan refugees are staying at a Fort Bliss facility just across the New Mexico state line, in addition to the increased flow of new migrants from Central America, Ecuador and Mexico, he said.
“So, if you got those three (trends) coming together and you look at the utilization of our airport, then that’s going to be a huge issue,” Samaniego said. “One of the things we need to establish is developing more flights out of El Paso because once they take the plane here, they’re going straight to their countries.”