In anticipation of a potential increase in the number of undocumented immigrants at the Mexico-United States border, Mayor Oscar Leeser of El Paso has announced a state of emergency in the city. The reason for this declaration is linked to the upcoming expiration of the Title 42 public health order on May 11, which was implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19. The cessation of this order raises concerns about a potential surge of illegal immigration, prompting the mayor to take action.
Commencing on May 1, the state of emergency declared by Mayor Leeser will provide the city of El Paso with the opportunity to prepare for the predicted increase in immigrant numbers. During a news conference on April 30, the mayor clarified that the primary purpose of the emergency declaration is to ensure that the city is fully equipped to offer suitable public shelter and housing to incoming immigrants on May 11 and 12. The emergency status will remain in effect for seven days before potentially being extended by the City Council.
El Paso will enter a state of emergency starting Monday, in advance of the pandemic-era immigration policy Title 42 being lifted, the border city’s mayor, Oscar Leeser, has announced. https://t.co/7GwdtF8naH
— KSAT 12 (@ksatnews) May 1, 2023
According to sources from the El Paso Times, approximately 35,000 asylum seekers are presently waiting in Juarez, Mexico, anticipating entry into the United States once the Title 42 public health order expires. In addition to this, El Paso is currently grappling with the issue of hundreds of undocumented immigrants sleeping on city streets, which is placing a considerable strain on city resources.
Title 42, which was implemented by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed to contain the spread of the virus by providing U.S. border agents with the power to expel and prevent undocumented immigrants seeking asylum encountered along the border. As per Spectrum News, Title 42 has been utilized over 2.5 million times to remove migrants since its implementation in March 2020.
Mayor Leeser has announced that temporary shelters will be established in El Paso through federal funding, in response to the state of emergency declared by the city. However, it is unclear how ready the U.S. Border Patrol is to deal with the thousands of migrants waiting to cross the border.
As per the Department of Defense, President Biden has directed the deployment of 1,500 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to address potential concerns that may emerge when the pandemic border restrictions are lifted on May 11.
According to Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, the active-duty troops deployed for a period of 90 days will provide support to the U.S. Border Patrol but are not authorized to engage in law enforcement activities. This deployment will supplement the existing deployment of around 2,500 National Guard troops.
Since assuming office in 2021, President Biden has been confronted with unprecedented figures of undocumented migrants apprehended while attempting to cross the border illegally. The president’s relaxed border policies have received extensive condemnation from Democratic leaders and immigration activists alike. Even Democratic party members and immigration advocates have censured the president for slowly strengthening his stance on border security.
Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, has openly disapproved of President Biden’s move to deploy troops, deeming it inappropriate. He has expressed that such a decision could be perceived as an attempt to score political gains or intimidate migrants, and it caters to the Republican party’s xenophobic assaults on the nation’s asylum system.
According to Ryder, the 1,500 troops might reach the U.S.-Mexico border by May 10th. Their primary duties will be ground-based monitoring, data entry, and providing warehouse support to aid border agents, and to address any crucial capability deficiencies.
During a news conference, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expressed that the United States is a sovereign nation, and Mexico respects its decisions, concerning troop deployment. At the same time, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre remarked that such deployments are considered to be a regular practice.