Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Border chief says GOP governors are making crisis worse by ‘lying’ to migrants

EL PASO, Texas — The nation’s top border official blamed Republican governors for luring more immigrants to the US by promising them free bus rides north to places like New York, Washington, DC and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said in an interview that, in some cases, the governors of Texas, Arizona and Florida are “lying” to migrants about the opportunities that might await them in those cities and that they are “attracting ” others to come to the United States

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also criticized Republican governors for sending migrants to other cities in an interview with José Díaz-Balart on MSNBC.

Migrants line up after arriving by bus in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday.nbc news

“When a governor acts unilaterally and refuses to coordinate with other government officials, that’s when problems arise. And that’s when we deplore political stunts when dealing with the lives of vulnerable people,” Mayorkas said.

Magnus and Mayorkas spoke from El Paso, where the Border Patrol released nearly 1,300 migrants onto the streets from Sept. 7-15 because shelters were too full to take them. Since Aug. 23, the city’s Democratic mayor has bused more than 3,400 migrants to cities like Chicago and New York.

Magnus said that despite the releases and transportation of migrants to northern cities, the Border Patrol is managing the influx.

“People across the country should know there is no chaos here,” Magnus said. “The people who are in our custody here are prosecuted and many of them are seeking asylum. So if some of them are released into the country, they’re doing it legally, they still have a date to appear for an asylum hearing.”

He said that a large proportion of the population crossing the border now is from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, countries that refuse to accept their citizens if the United States tries to deport them.

Over the past year, the number of Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Cubans who crossed the US-Mexico border increased by 175%, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

In El Paso, daily border encounters with undocumented immigrants have averaged 1,500 per day since Sept. 1, with an average of 618 coming from Venezuela, according to El Paso Sector Customs and Border Protection data.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said the city’s shelters are full, which is why he, like Republican governors, has begun moving immigrants out of the city.

Leeser said he needs the federal government to help “decompress” the migrant population in his city so their shelters are no longer full.

He said that only about 50% of migrants arriving from Venezuela have relatives who can sponsor them in the US, compared to 95% of Central Americans who know someone they could stay with while they wait for their immigration hearings.

Unlike Republican governors, Leeser is putting cities on notice that they will receive immigrants from El Paso.

“They had no money to go,” said Leeser, who sees providing free transportation to migrants as a humanitarian mission. “We want to make sure that we accept people and treat them the way they would like to be treated.”

Jenny Espinoza recently arrived in El Paso from Venezuela and was taken through town to a nearby motel where more than 100 migrants were staying overnight. She said that she only had the clothes that she was wearing and that she did not know where her next meal would come from.

Later that night, one of Jenny’s roommates said via WhatsApp message that they went to bed hungry because not enough food had been distributed to the migrants for them to eat.

“Some people in a car brought some food but when we passed we had nothing left,” he wrote at 10:21 p.m.

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