Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suddenly dropped off about 100 Central American migrants on Christmas Day in downtown El Paso – with hundreds more to come.
City officials were left scrambling on Tuesday to provide food and shelter for the migrants, most of whom were planning to travel to another destination so they could stay with a sponsor while the government reviews requests for asylum.
‘ICE gave us a heads up about an hour or two ago that we were going to get 200 folks Downtown,’ Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, told the El Paso Times.
‘This group right now is about 100, so we don’t know if we are going to get another 100 or if this is it for the day.’
Migrants are seen above lining up for food after they were dropped off in El Paso on Tuesday
Migrant children are seen above reaching out for candies from a volunteer while waiting for transportation to emergency shelters on Tuesday
Central American migrants, who were dropped off at a bus station by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), wait to board a bus to take them to emergency shelters in El Paso, Texas, on Christmas Day, Tuesday
Migrants are seen above lining up for food as they wait for transportation to emergency shelters
Some of the migrants described the difficulty of their journey from Central America, which included days of travel by foot with little to no food
ICE dropped off the migrants without warning. In years past, it would coordinate with local officials so that shelter can be arranged
Migrants are seen above receiving food from volunteers in El Paso on Tuesday
‘Right now, we are trying to find them space for the night.
‘A place where they can sleep, make phone calls to their contacts or relatives in other parts of the country.
‘Most of these folks are on route to another part of the country.
‘They are not staying here in El Paso.
‘They want to go to their sponsor or family members in other parts of the country.
‘They just need a place for the night.’
The Hope Border Institute describes itself as an ‘independent grassroots community organization’ that advocates on behalf of migrants.
Some of the asylum seekers described the difficult journey they made from their native countries.
One woman, Juana Juan Diego, said she and her 1-year-old daughter, Dulce, traveled by foot for 20 days from Guatemala City.
Most of the migrants will be in El Paso temporarily. They will eventually be housed with relatives while the government reviews their requests for asylum
Migrants are seen above being transported by bus to emergency shelters in El Paso on Tuesday
A migrant child holds his father’s hand while they line up for food with other newly arrived Central Americans in El Paso on Tuesday
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Congressman, asked the public to make a donation to help care for the arriving migrants
Juan Diego said her daughter has been suffering from diarrhea and headaches after going days with little to no food.
‘It has been very difficult,’ she told the El Paso Times. She said she has come to America because of the lack of jobs in her country.
She said her final destination is Tennessee, where she will stay with relatives while her asylum case is pending.
Corbett said that the group of migrants has been checked and that no one is in need of immediate medical attention.
Hours earlier, U.S. immigration authorities said an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala has died in government custody, the second immigrant child to die in detention this month.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection say the boy died shortly after midnight Tuesday.
A Guatemalan official says he was told by the father of an 8-year-old boy who died in U.S. custody that the two had been traveling from their home in the Central American country to Tennessee, and that his son had been in ‘perfect health.’
Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, also confirmed Tuesday that the boy’s name was Felipe Gomez Alonzo.
The consul says he interviewed the father, 47-year-old Agustin Gomez, by telephone.
On Sunday, hundreds of migrants were dropped off at a Greyhound bus station
A local man is seen above handing out hamburgers to Central American migrants outside the Greyhound station in El Paso on Sunday
An additional 500 migrants are expected to be dropped off in El Paso in the coming days, according to immigration advocates
The group of around 200, mostly made up of Central Americans, were left without money, food and means of communication
Volunteers from Annunciation house and other local churches came to aid and find a place to house them for the night
Annunciation House, a charity that has provided shelter to migrants, asked the public for donations in housing some 200 migrants who were dropped off by ICE at an El Paso bus station on Sunday and Monday
Asylum seekers board a bus stop after they were dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday
O’Rourke, who has emerged as a possible 2020 presidential contender after his near-upset of incumbent Texas Senator Ted Cruz this past November, said he was told by ICE that the unannounced releases were a mistake
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the boy died shortly after midnight on Christmas.
CBP says the boy was taken Monday with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever, and released.
The agency says the boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting.
He died hours later.
Earlier this month, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died while in custody of border authorities.
Annunciation House, a charity that has provided shelter to migrants, asked the public for donations in housing some 200 migrants who were dropped off by ICE at an El Paso bus station on Sunday and Monday.
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Congressman who represents the El Paso area, was seen at a park near the bus station handing out food.
O’Rourke, who has emerged as a possible 2020 presidential contender after his near-upset of incumbent Texas Senator Ted Cruz this past November, said he was told by ICE that the unannounced releases were a mistake.
‘ICE made a mistake yesterday,’ O’Rourke told the El Paso Times.
‘I don’t think it was intentional. I think they made a mistake in not alerting the community.’
The group of migrants included many women and children who made the long journey to the U.S.
A migrant holds a young child in his arms at the Greyhound bus station in downtown El Paso on Sunday
Another 500 migrants are expected to be dropped off over the course of Wednesday and Thursday
A young child is carried on the arms of a newly arrived migrant at the Greyhound bus station in El Paso on Sunday
The agency typically coordinates with local shelters to make sure there is space for them to stay.
But U.S. Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar, O’Rourke’s successor, tells The Associated Press that ICE officials dropped people off at the bus station after Annunciation House said it didn’t have enough space.
Escobar called ICE’s action ‘really alarming.’
‘I have a number of concerns,’ Escobar said Tuesday.
‘[Customs and Border Protection] back in 2016 used to create temporally holding facilities that were humane, safe and clean, so that migrants during times of a surge wouldn’t be left on the street.
‘Federal law enforcement has long collaborated with the Annunciation House, so they know exactly what the capacity is here in the community.’
ICE did not respond to a request for comment.
Another 500 migrants are expected to be dropped off over the course of Wednesday and Thursday.
ICE has not told local authorities in El Paso where they will be left or what time.