EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A City Council member on Wednesday renewed her plea for Mayor Oscar Leeser to issue a disaster declaration that would allow El Paso to request state funds due to a record migrant influx.
City staff on Tuesday said El Paso is spending $250,000 a day on migrant busing, meals and overnight hotel stays. That is money the city is expecting the federal government to eventually reimburse.
“What we continue to do is ask the El Paso taxpayers to foot the bill. Immigration has long been the responsibility of the federal government and they have failed miserably,” City Rep. Claudia L. Rodriguez said in a statement. “While the federal government gets their act together and eventually gets to our millions of dollars in reimbursements, there is a real solution to stop the bleeding and alleviate the taxpayers of El Paso: Mayor (Oscar) Leeser can (issue) a disaster declaration which would allow us to ask for immediate state funding.”
The Council earlier this year discussed the possibility of a disaster declaration but opted to approve instead an emergency ordinance allowing the use of city staff and resources to cope with a spike in migration that overwhelmed nonprofit shelters.
But what some believed would be a seasonal phenomenon – unauthorized migration usually drops sharply in the hottest months of the year – has only gotten more severe. Border agents last month apprehended more than 40,000 migrants and have told El Paso officials they expect that number to reach up to 60,000 in October.
As of this week, 207 charter buses carrying some 10,000 migrants to other hubs have left El Paso.
The El Paso Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol includes El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Far West Texas, and the entire state of New Mexico. Migrants apprehended in Santa Teresa and Columbus, New Mexico, are typically processed in El Paso. Rodriguez wonders why those and other government entities are not financially assisting El Paso.
“Yesterday, it was reported that the migrant crisis in El Paso is at an all-time high, and only getting worse,” Rodriguez said. “Despite this massive influx, our mayor still feels this is not reason enough to issue a disaster declaration.
City staff said only the mayor and the El Paso County judge can issue such a disaster declaration.
Rodriguez made a similar plea at Tuesday’s council meeting and at previous meetings in which Leeser said he did not believe such a declaration was warranted. On Tuesday, city staff told Rodriguez the disaster declaration would allow El Paso to request state funding and resources such as buses, but that there was no guarantee it would get it.
As of October 6, El Paso was owed $6.1 million in federal reimbursements and as of Tuesday had not received a promised $2 million advance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Speaking through video from another city, Leeser told the council he had received word from the federal government that the city would get the $2 million on Wednesday.