Major border cities, El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico are preparing for a possibly massive influx of immigrants as Title 42 pandemic restrictions are set to expire this week. Citizens and local governments have been making efforts to ready themselves and other border towns. With little help from the Federal Government, the two major urban centers are bracing themselves for a busy winter.
According to El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, the area is planning housing and relocation efforts with organizations and other cities. El Paso sees some of the busiest border crossing traffic in the United States. With the expiration of Title 42, the numbers are expected to double.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told The Associated Press on Sunday that the region, home to one of the busiest border crossings in the country, was coordinating housing and relocation efforts with groups and other cities, as well as calling on the state and federal government for humanitarian help. The area is preparing for an onslaught of new arrivals that could double their daily numbers once public health rule Title 42 ends on Wednesday.
Dylan Corbett, Director of the Hope Border Institute, a Catholic organization that works with migrants in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, says that the frequently-changing policies from the U.S. Government make it difficult to plan for influxes such as the one expected at the end of this week. Corbett explained that most of the work ends up taken up by faith organizations. Governmental disorganization results in a lack of policy or direction.
“You have a lot of pent-up pain,” Corbett said. “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen.” With government policies in disarray, “the majority of the work falls to faith communities to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences.”
Local business owners and private citizens have been volunteering as the winter temperatures drop below zero. One couple met migrants – many of whom will likely sleep on the streets – with warm food and blankets. Jeff Petion, trucking school owner, has mobilized employees to help migrants exposed to the weather. Other El Paso citizens worry that the influx will create dangerous situations. Some worry that law enforcement will be obliged to neglect crime in order to deal with those seeking asylum.
But across the street from Petion, Kathy Countiss, a retiree, said she worries the new arrivals will get out of control in El Paso, draining resources and directing enforcement away from criminals to those claiming asylum.
With the expiration of Title 42, migrants are expected to arrive from Central American countries such as Nicaragua and Guatemala, and as far as Venezuela in South America.