While officials reported a dramatic decrease in migrants crossing the border since the expiration of Title 42 a little over a week ago, the El Paso City Council voted unanimously to continue two emergency ordinances for another 30 days.
During a council work session Monday, Emergency Managment Coordinator Jorge Rodriguez informed the council that daily apprehensions are down to around 600 per day and community releases to shelters and other services are also down significantly.
There have been no street releases, he added.
While May has seen the highest number of community releases this year, Rodriguez reported that the brunt of those numbers were the result of a surge of asylum-seekers who reported to border agents in the days before Title 42’s end.
The numbers are low enough, he said, that arriving migrants are being tended to with ease by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) running shelters and providing other services — the numbers are so low, Mayor Oscar Leeser noted, that the shelter at Bassett Middle School has been shut down until it’s needed.
The Bassett Middle School shelter is not closed, but there is nobody staying at the temporary shelter, which remains ready, if needed, a city spokeswoman said.
More:From middle school to migrant shelter, El Paso opens shelter doors as Title 42 nears end
Rodriguez noted that so far no transportation has been provided outside of El Paso, with Sun Metro on hand to transport migrants from the Border Patrol’s processing center to shelters in the city, and the city still has around $26 million on hand to address any future issues.
El Paso police, Leeser noted, was on hand strictly to assist Border Patrol and other agencies, but took no part in enforcing immigration law.
“They were there to assist,” Leeser said, “and ensure that our community continued to be safe in all manners.”
And though the current situation is stable, Leeser reminded council members that “we don’t know what we don’t know” and have to stand ready should the situation change.
Officials in Juárez not expecting surge anytime soon
The situation on the other side of the border, where thousands were waiting in Juárez only a couple of weeks ago, is not much different from that in El Paso at the moment.
Border Patrol encounters with migrants dropped below a daily average of 1,000 per day in the El Paso Sector after the use of Title 42 expulsions ended on May 12, according to a city online dashboard.
Migrants continue to arrive in Juárez, and the Mexican government was preparing to set up additional shelter space. But crossings between ports of entry into El Paso have declined dramatically.
Border Patrol reported a peak of over 2,000 migrant encounters per day in the week leading up to the end of Title 42; on Monday, the city dashboard showed 596 reported encounters.
During Monday’s council meeting, Rodriguez said that authorities in Juárez had reported no real change in numbers and had no expectations of a further surge of asylum-seekers crossing the border.
White House call praises El Paso for job well done
The situation in El Paso stands in stark contrast to the predictions that mass chaos would overwhelm the city’s response infrastructure as thousands upon thousands of asylum-seekers entered the country upon the expiration of Title 42.
Reports from the city’s response team paint an almost rosy picture, but Leeser noted that is because of the unified effort of dozens of agencies, governments, organizations, churches and more in preparation of the policy’s end — and, he added, the White House has taken note.
More:El Paso prepared for new surge of migrants as Title 42 ends: recap
In a recent call, Leeser said the White House offered congratulations to the city for its response to the expected crisis, as well as thanks for being a partner to the federal government.
“They just wanted to thank us for the we did and the job we did as a whole, as a community … ,” Leeser said before offering praise to Washington for its assistance throughout the humanitarian situation. “Whatever we asked for, they were able to give us and facilitate for us.
“Everything you see was a great team that was able to execute to make sure people were treated properly …,” he added.
Reporter Lauren Villagran contributed to this report.