Humanitarian crisis at U.S.- Mexico border

El Paso mayor declares state of emergency amid migrant crisis


There is a growing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border as thousands of migrants continue to cross into El Paso, Texas, every day. The situation is expected to worsen once the pandemic-era policy known as Title 42 ends this week, leading to an anticipated surge in migrants. 

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency Saturday to get additional resources ahead of Wednesday’s Title 42 expiration date. 

“Our numbers will go from 2,500 to four, five, or maybe 6,000,” he said.  

El Paso is seeing a nearly 300% increase in migrant crossings from 2021, which has a ripple effect beyond Texas. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the city could see more than 1,000 additional asylum-seekers bussed in every week once Title 42 is lifted. Funding for city programs may need to be cut because of the expected influx, he said.

Migrants camp out at night in freezing temperatures in downtown El Paso near a bus station while waiting for transportation to shelter after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 17, 2022.


Title 42 allows for the immediate expulsion of migrants over COVID concerns. Many Republicans have fought hard to keep the policy in place. Nineteen Republican-led states have asked the Supreme Court to intervene after losing a federal court challenge to delay the policy’s cancellation.

Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales said he was shocked when he saw the extreme conditions that the border patrol processing center in El Paso was facing as hundreds of migrants were cramped inside a room meant for 100 people. It was housing more than 500.

The desperate scene has spilled into downtown El Paso. Shelters are at capacity and city blocks are lined with huddled masses. More than 1,000 people are estimated to be sleeping outside in sub-freezing temperatures.   

The Biden administration has been scrambling for solutions ahead of Title 42’s expiration. But Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, whose South Texas district includes about 200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, said migrants must follow the process or risk being sent back. 

“They have to have a policy of an orderly pathway to asylum through our bridges. And if they don’t follow that pathway, they need to go back,” Cuellar said. 

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