El Paso Struggles To House Migrants After Shelter Closures

El Paso, Texas, a city which lies on the border between the United States and Mexico, has in recent history housed many migrants who have crossed the international border. However, shelters have now had to close due to funding problems and lack of volunteers. As a result, the city has struggled to house the numerous migrants it holds, leaving some homeless in makeshift camps near transportation hubs. In response to the crisis, city officials have simply left migrants in such areas, or put them on buses bound for large metropolitan areas with strong Democrat support.

Earlier this year, Annunciation House, a local Texas non-profit organization which ran the main shelter in the city, Casa del Refugiado, closed its doors due to lack of funds. The facility had the capacity to hold up to 1,500 individuals with adequate food, water and shelter, and now, it has become much harder for those crossing the border to find a place to stay. In addition to simple economic problems, Casa del Refugiado also had to face changing immigration policies over the last decade. Ultimately, the shelter, which had been running for 40 years, closed also as the facility began unusable because of maintenance problems. No replacement facility was found for a few months, leaving migrants camping out in bus terminals and train stations across the border region. However, the city of El Paso opened a new facility just last month which can house up to 300 individuals. While this is a substantial reduction from the capacity of Casa del Refugiado, the facility still offered a significant level of support to the refugees and migrants, albeit not giving refugees the option to stay overnight.

The situation in Texas is certainly dire, as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has struggled with the huge influx of refugees from the southern border. For example, it had to release 1000 migrants from detention in a six-day period simply due to overcapacity of their holding facilities. Some state officials, including those from predominantly-Republican states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona, have resorted to sending migrants to larger cities on buses, or even in some cases, on flights. The city of El Paso has sent 40 buses to New York City and other liberal cities further north like Chicago and Washington D.C.

Advocacy groups have accused these officials of being unethical and immoral. In particular, many refugees fleeing Venezuela, which has seen political instability, human rights violations and oppression in recent years, do not have a place to stay in the United States. Executive director of Hope Border Institute, Dylan Corbett, has called the exodus of Venezuelans a “one of the largest migration crises in the world right now”. Organizations like Hope Border Institute have opted for solving the crisis with temporary measures, such as housing migrants in their own facilities for the time being. While this solution has worked in the short-term, it may not be enough to ensure the peace and stability of the region in the long run.