(Central Square) – Ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to El Paso on Sunday, the city began clearing sidewalks of homeless migrants, online videos from city shows.
A local border guard group, organized by the wife of a border agent, is planning a protest during Biden’s visit. Biden’s trip to the southern border is his first trip since he became president. His visit to the sector, where, according to the border guards, they are overwhelmed by the influx of people. On Thursday, a border guard was shot dead there.
According to El Paso Mayor Oscar Lizer, a humanitarian crisis has erupted in the city over the past few months. Last year, the city began deporting thousands of people, but when the number reached historic levels last month, Lieser declared a state of emergency.
On December 6, Biden said he was not visiting the border because he had “more important things to do.”
Almost a month later on the same day, he changed course and on Thursday said he was going to El Paso because the city “needed help.” He also announced that he is expanding the parole process to release more people in the US, a policy that has already sued him for allegedly violating federal law.
Irene Armendaris-Jackson, president of the Border Guard Coalition and wife of a Border Patrol agent, posted videos online from the streets of El Paso before and after Biden’s announcement. One video posted on January 1 shows people lying on the ground next to each other, wrapped in blankets.
It may be a new year, but it’s still the same border crisis. Here are some videos from El Paso taken just yesterday. A humanitarian nightmare unfolds. pic.twitter.com/u7aO48wIoO
— Irene Armendaris-Jackson (@ArmendarizDis16) January 2, 2023
“It may be a new year, but it’s the same border crisis,” she said. “Here are some videos from El Paso just yesterday. A humanitarian nightmare is unfolding.”
On January 3, local writer Ivan Pierre Aguirre posted a video of people lying on the sidewalk in near-freezing temperatures.
“Early this morning (6:45 a.m.) in El Paso, temperatures were near freezing, and a group of migrants staying out overnight are using heat from a parked bus engine to keep warm,” he said. “When asked if they were afraid to stand near the smoke, they said they risked trying to keep warm.”
With temperatures close to zero. in #ElPaso early (6:45 am) this morning group #migrants who have stayed overnight outside use the heat from the parked bus’s engine to try to keep warm. pic.twitter.com/PgZyXfCBIe
— Ivan Pierre Aguirre: (@i_p_a_1) January 3, 2023
On Friday, Armendaris-Jackson posted a video showing the sidewalks completely empty.
Now, when Biden arrives on a symbolic visit to the border, everything looks like this: pic.twitter.com/5OnyFuxrt0
— Irene Armendaris-Jackson (@ArmendarizDis16) January 6, 2023
When asked by a reporter about the clearing of the streets in El Paso and whether [is] going to see a cleaned up version of El Paso when it arrives at the border? White House spokesman John Kirby said on Friday: “The president is very keen to see in person what the security situation looks like at the border” and “was very interested” in talking to Border Patrol agents “to get their point of view.”
But Armendaris-Jackson says the president’s trip is a farce and organized the protest to “send the signal that Biden’s visit to the border is too little and too late.”
On Saturday, she said: “Joe Biden will visit El Paso to try and convince us we don’t have a crisis. I live here and I know the truth. We are experiencing a disaster. Joe Biden’s visit to our southern border will be nothing more than a sanitized photo op. His dangerous policy of open borders endangered the American people.”
The National Border Patrol Council, the trade union that represents Border Patrol agents, is also not taking the White House’s claims seriously. The statement said: “El Paso is being cleaned up as if nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened there. Just in time for Biden’s “border visit”. We suggest we just land in Des Moines, Iowa and tell him it’s El Paso. He will never know the difference.
Biden announced his trip to El Paso on the same day that an El Paso sector border patrol agent was shot multiple times in the chest as law enforcement across the border increasingly engages in gunfights with suspected smugglers.
The sector, which includes two western Texas counties and the entire state of New Mexico, has seen a record number of arrests and escapes over the past few months. In December, according to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square, agents of the El Paso sector detained almost 56,000 people and reported more than 32,000 people who fled from law enforcement.
The agent who was shot was in the Lordsburg, New Mexico office. Protected by body armor, he survived.
Authorities say the man who shot him multiple times was suspected of smuggling, drove away and was involved in a rollover accident several miles from the original shooting. The border guards detained six people and took them into custody. The investigation is ongoing.
Despite the city’s earlier claim that the city was not receiving aid from the federal government, prompting it to declare a state of emergency, Lieser said on Friday that “the federal government has been our partner in this humanitarian crisis and has provided much needed financial support as we help with this critical federal issue.
“While President Biden is fully aware of the challenges we are facing, it is always good to see for yourself, and we are very grateful to him for taking the time to visit El Paso and see for himself not only what we are facing, but also the incredible collaboration between all of our partners on this issue.”