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Tipsheet

Downtown El Paso Has Become a 'Refugee Camp' Ahead of Title 42 Removal

Townhall Media/Julio Rosas

EL PASO, Texas — Blocks and blocks around Sacred Heart Church have once again turned into a makeshift camp for processed and released migrants, mostly Venezuelans, because they have no where to go after being freed by Border Patrol as the El Paso Sector is experiencing a crushing influx of illegal crossings before Title 42 is removed.

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The size and conditions of the camp are much worse than the ones that popped up during the surge that occurred in December 2022. The silver lining is people today do not have to endure below-freezing nights like the ones who crossed into Texas last year. Locals shelters have once again been forced to prioritize women and children, leaving many others on the street to fend for themselves.          

A law enforcement source told me their last estimate put the number of homeless migrants around 2,500, spread out for blocks near the Paso del Norte Port of Entry. At least 25 porta-potties have been provided by the city and walking near them confirms they have been heavily used. Despite the porta-potties, there was human feces on the sidewalk and street.

Many of the garbage cans and dumpsters are overflowing with trash, with the street also being lined with trash.           

Speaking with the Venezuelans camped out on the street, many confirmed they illegally crossed the Rio Grande, turned themselves into Border Patrol, and were with released with documentation that allows them to travel further within the United States. Only one woman I spoke to said she entered the country legally by using the CBP One app. The reason why they are still in El Paso is due to the fact they do not have money for a bus or plane ticket. Everyone I talked with complained they had very little to eat since being on street, which ranged from three days to over a week.

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"I spent 20 years in the military, 5 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Downtown El Paso has become a scene you would see out of a refugee camp in Kandahar not the United States. The El Paso Police officers are working around the clock with mandatory overtime to keep the community safe but this is a federal issue. Only when President Biden enforces the laws on the books will this crisis end," Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), whose district includes part of El Paso County, told me.

"If someone does not qualify for asylum, which is 9 out of 10 people, DHS should fly them back to their country of origin not bus them all over the country," he continued. "Next week House Republicans will pass a border security bill that includes many of my initiatives to include: heading down the route of labeling cartels as terrorists, more resources for sheriffs and local law enforcement, and $9K bonus for Border Patrol agents. Much more has to be done, but it is a big step in the right direction."

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Walking around the blocks, I could hear a lot of coughing and sneezing. Gonzales said El Paso officers warned him to not be in the camp unless he had to because, "There have been cases of scabies, measles, COVID, and bed bugs."

I saw Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), who represents El Paso, leave Sacred Heart Church and I asked if she was willing to provide a statement about the situation. Escobar said she was only there to volunteer and declined to provide a comment.

About 9 miles away, there are hundreds of more people who are camped out on the United States side of the Rio Grande by the border wall, waiting to be let in by Border Patrol.

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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was in the Rio Grande Valley Sector to get a firsthand look at U.S. operations there as that area has also seen a dramatic spike in illegal crossings, even by border crisis standards. 

"We are building lawful pathways, and we are delivering consequences for those who do not use those meaningfully accessible pathways. We have a plan. We are executing on that plan. I have come to McAllen and Brownsville to see firsthand that plan in action," Mayorkas tweeted.

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