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Migrant influx in El Paso strains organizations within the city

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Jonny Coker
Las Americas Headquarters in El Paso.

Last week, U.S. Border Agents say they encountered an average of over 2,000 migrants per day, according to the City of El Paso. The influx of migration comes just as the lifting of Title 42 was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, but many migrants are still waiting at the border in hopes of being granted asylum.

Javier Martín is a Nicaraguan who began his journey to the United States one month ago due to what he says are bad conditions in his own country. He was dropped off at Rescue Mission El Paso after being processed by United States Border Agents. He said he left due to bad economic conditions and government overreach.

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Jonny Coker
Javier Martín speaks about his journey to the United States.

“We don’t have free expression … Because if we speak against the Government, then the government puts us in jail, and we are condemned for years,” he said.

He says his trip to the border left him scarred, as he alleged that Mexican immigration authorities abused him and others.

“It’s a suffering mentality. We saw things like a young girl that was abused. We had to run or hide because we were assaulted,” he said. “They took $800 and my cell phone. We could no longer travel to our destiny. Many abused young girls, many children abused by Mexican immigration authorities.”

Migrant influx in El Paso strains organizations within the city

Nicole Reulet is the director of marketing at Rescue Mission El Paso, a homeless shelter that also takes in migrants that have been processed by U.S. Border Agents. She says that with the influx of migrants, the shelter is well over capacity.

“So our capacity is 190, and right now we’re somewhere around 220 - 230. So as you can imagine we’ve had to overflow into the chapel, into the library, into conference rooms. Any extra space we have, we’ve been utilizing,” she said. “Most of the shelters are all full now, so when [Title 42] gets lifted, those numbers are going to increase, but the numbers that our shelters can take is just a drop in the bucket. So that’s why we prioritize getting them where they need to be. Getting them to flow through, not have them stuck here and not know where to go [without] a plan. We try to equip them the best that we can to get them on their way.”

Nico Palazzo is a staff attorney at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, a nonprofit organization that helps migrants through the legal process of coming into the United States. He said that this increase in migrants affects the U.S. as a whole, not just the borderlands.

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Evelyn Sandoval
The border wall separating the United States and Mexico.

“These are individuals who are coming, [that are] for the most part, not settling or deciding to stay on the border,” he said. “They’re going to their final destination, wherever it may be. It could be a cornfield in Iowa, it could be Manhattan, it could be Oregon. So it affects every corner of the United States.”

He said that while there has not been enough done on a legislative level to prepare for the end of Title 42, the city needs to look at the influx of migrants from a humanitarian perspective.

“These are individuals who are fleeing situations of horrific violence, they are very traumatized from their journeys to the border. So the right investments should be directed to housing, orientation, social support, case management, [and] providing individuals with the tools and the foundation that they need to be able to best thrive in the United States,” he said.

Though his journey has been grueling, Martín said that he was grateful for all the support that he’s gotten in the United States.

“I’m grateful for what [Rescue Mission El Paso] has given us. Good support, food, [and doctors.] And we greatly thank the U.S. Government, the mission of the United States and everyone, because they have been very good to us in this country.”

With the current influx of migration, shelters in El Paso are not able to take in every person in need of help. And with the lifting of Title 42 looming, officials are expecting resources to be strained even further.

Jonny Coker is a Multimedia Journalist for KRWG Public Media. He has lived in Southern New Mexico for most of his life, growing up in the small Village of Cloudcroft, and earning a degree in Journalism and Media Studies at New Mexico State University. Jonny believes that access to news and information is essential for a smoothly functioning society, and public media is one of the best ways to spread that knowledge.