El Paso, Texas Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency Saturday night amid a recent surge of migrants arriving in his community, which he said was living in unsafe conditions.
The mayor, who had previously resisted issuing a state of emergency, said “hundreds” of migrants were on the streets in unsafe conditions and as temperatures began to drop, things could get worse when Trump-era border policies are rolled back on Wednesday. Unfortunately, federal officials expect this will lead to an increase in immigration.
“We knew the influx on Wednesday was going to be incredible,” the mayor said at a news conference.
Taking all these factors into consideration, “we believe today is the appropriate time to declare a state of emergency,” he added.
Earlier this week, a senior Border Patrol official said more than 2,400 migrants were crossing into the U.S. near El Paso each day over the weekend, describing the figure as a “surge in illegal crossings” in the area.
If those numbers rise, Wednesday will mark the end of Section 42, the policy that has allowed officials to turn away migrants encountered at the southern border since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The deadline has federal officials preparing for further additions to the border crossing.
“I’ve said from the beginning that when I don’t feel safe for our asylum seekers or our community, I call it,” the El Paso mayor said Saturday. “I truly believe that our asylum seekers are not safe today because we have hundreds of thousands of people on the streets and that’s not how we want to treat people. ”
The announcement will allow local leaders to apply to the state for additional resources, such as shelter and transportation for people, the city said in a release.
It will also activate an emergency operations center and develop emergency management plans to help “protect the health, safety and welfare of immigrants and our communities.”
This story is developing and will be updated.