El Paso leaders opposed Gov. Greg Abbott’s claim this week that the city was “sanitized” and migrant camps cleared to protect President Biden from the real situation at the border.
Biden visited El Paso on Sunday on his first-ever trip to the border as president. He met with US Customs and Border Protection officials, city and county leaders, and US representatives. With US representatives Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen.
Abbott was not around during the president’s visit, but met with Biden after Air Force One landed at El Paso International Airport. The governor personally delivered a letter accusing Biden of relinquishing his duties to secure the border. In it, he said that the president was not going to see the reality of the situation on the ground.
“Even the city you are visiting has been cleared of the migrant camps that have flooded downtown El Paso because your administration wants to shield you from the chaos that Texans face on a daily basis,” he said. “This chaos is a direct result of your failure to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress.”
El Paso Mayor Oscar Lizer said the cleanup operation was not related to the president’s visit, but instead was part of the city’s sanitation services’ routine duties after thousands of migrants began arriving in El Paso last month.
“Places where migrants have gathered are regularly cleaned by the city authorities. If we did not, we would create a health hazard,” Lesser said in a statement. “The difference was not the President’s visit; the difference was a decrease in the number of crossing individuals. We used to see days with up to 2,500 crossings per day, and now we see 500. Reducing the number leads to less crowded places, which optimizes our cleaning efforts.”
The City of El Paso dashboard shows that fewer than 1,000 migrants were released onto the streets in the first week of January. This is up from over 10,000 in the week of December 12 and around 5,900 the following week.
But that didn’t stop Abbott from appearing on FOX News Sunday ahead of his meeting with Biden, accusing his president of aiding migrants.
“Biden is here today to look at a sanitized El Paso so he can do his best to help and help illegal immigrants, not prevent them from entering the country,” he said in a news clip. published on Twitter. (As Abbott said, the video clip showed migrants in Eagle Pass, Texas, not El Paso. Eagle Pass is about a seven-hour drive from El Paso.)
After Biden’s visit, Escobar told a press conference that there were also fewer migrants on the streets of downtown El Paso because non-governmental organizations were able to persuade some fearing deportation to seek shelter provided by non-profit groups. She also said that the US Border Patrol had conducted some law enforcement operations in the area, which also resulted in a decrease in the number of people camping on the streets.
She added that she and other leaders had shared photos of the situation on the ground with the president ahead of his visit.
“These are the two things that happen in tandem [and] completely unrelated to the President’s visit. And I just want to emphasize… that the president has seen all the pictures that we’ve all seen. The President has seen all the videos we have seen,” she said. “The mayor delivered another package with some of the same photos. And we both witnessed the way he looked at them. There was no way this could be kept secret from the leader of the free world.
In the weeks leading up to the president’s visit, city brigades were regularly seen in downtown areas where migrants with nowhere to go were setting up camps. But even during the president’s visit, national media coverage such as CNN showed that hundreds of migrants were still living on the streets of El Paso, just a few miles from the port of entry where Biden made his first stop.
The migrants told reporters they hoped the president would meet with them, but he chose not to, drawing criticism from some groups who also chided the president for maintaining some of former President Trump’s tough immigration policies. Criticism escalated after the Department of Homeland Security announced last week that while it will allow tens of thousands of migrants to apply for humanitarian parole under a new immigration plan, it will continue to deport most of them under Section 42. , a rule that allows the immediate expulsion of migrants without the possibility of applying for asylum.
KERA News is made possible by the generosity of our contributors. If you find this reporting valuable, consider giving a tax-free gift today. Thank you.