On Monday, El Paso took steps to receive what is expected to be a surge of migrants when the health restrictions are lifted. El Paso joined other Texas border cities last week in declaring a state of emergency after migrants overloaded area shelters, leading to an alarming increase in people sleeping on the streets as temperatures dipped below freezing.
In a news release, city officials said they had identified “mass shelter facilities” to accommodate 1,000 to 2,000 people and would provide essential services such as food, bathrooms, showers, toiletries and transportation. The Red Cross will also be on hand to help as needed, city officials said. The city’s airport is also serving as a shelter for migrants who have airplane tickets to other destinations in the United States, the officials said.
“It is imperative that our community work collaboratively to address this federal migrant crisis,” said Mario D’Agostino, a deputy city manager for public safety in El Paso. “We must implement an aggressive but humane response to ensure we are taking care of everyone in our community as well as those passing through our community.”
On Tuesday, National Guard units, including military vehicles, and members of the Texas Department of Public Safety lined up along the Rio Grande in El Paso, a show of force that left some local officials frustrated. The Texas National Guard announced on Monday that it had deployed assets from the 136th Airlift Wing in Fort Worth to ferry soldiers and equipment to the border.
“I do not want these initiatives to turn into policing simply because of political overtures or political opportunities,” said Ricardo Samaniego, the El Paso county judge. He said he had been told that the show of force was a training exercise and that it was unclear how long they would remain at the border.
In Washington, the debate over the use of the Title 42 restrictions has helped to highlight the administration’s difficulty in making good on President Biden’s promise of border policies that are both secure and humane. As officials have struggled to respond to historic levels of migration, they have at times been criticized by immigration advocates for relying too heavily on Trump-era policies.
At the same time, Mr. Biden and his team have been under intense fire from Republicans, who accuse the administration of being too lenient at the border. House Republicans, who will be in the majority next year, have promised to investigate — and seek to impeach — Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security.