El Paso, Laredo, and Brownsville all recently issued disaster declarations that must be renewed every seven days, citing the surge of people who have unlawfully crossed the border.
Massive lines formed at ports of entry in each of the three cities as of Tuesday, with some 7,000 in custody at the Brownsville port of entry alone and over 20,000 in custody overall.
Images depicting desperate conditions in the border communities have continued to proliferate on social media, with people lining sidewalks, staying in cardboard boxes, and being left outside, with humanitarian and government resources having long surpassed capacity.
According to Gov. Greg Abbott, an estimated 13,000 people are illegally crossing the border each day, which will reach an annual total of 1.3 million.
“As the Mayor of a border community, we understand our local immigration challenges are intertwined with our bi-national challenges involving immigration reform,” Laredo Mayor Dr. Victor Trevino stated regarding his city’s disaster declaration.
“With this in mind, it’s imperative that we protect the City of Laredo’s limited resources while balancing the treatment and services available to incoming immigrants. Therefore, the Emergency Declaration is necessary in light of previous experiences and the current and imminent rise of immigrants arriving at our southern border with the expiration of Title 42,” the mayor added.
Brownville’s declaration also cites the surge in unlawful border crossings, calling for federal and state aid in processing foreign nationals in a humanitarian way.
The surge is being attributed to the end of the Trump administration’s public health order under Title 42 that allowed for immediate deportations due to COVID-19. That order expires Thursday, May 11.
The City of El Paso says the Mexican government estimates some 15,000 immigrants are camped on their side of the river in Ciudad Juarez waiting for the Title 42 order to expire before crossing, and that El Paso is already at capacity for humanitarian resources.
“There are significant public safety and security concerns related to the wave of migration, including but not limited to the risk of injury or loss of life with migrants in El Paso streets with little or no resources on days that reach extremely high or freezing low temperatures and the inherent risks that come with increased demand on local shelters,” the El Paso declaration states.
Both the State of Texas and the federal government have directed additional resources to secure the border, including state and National Guard troops. But with thousands of people already surging on the border, and some 80,000 Venezuelans reportedly on their way, border communities like El Paso are trying to ensure sufficient resources are in place to help accommodate the growing need for humanitarian support.
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Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.