EL PASO, TEXAS — A city leader of El Paso, Texas, is warning that migration into the city can’t be a “free-for-all” and calling for policy changes in Washington — while saying that a last-minute block of the Biden administration’s parole policy may have prevented a bigger surge into the area.
Mario D’Agostino, the deputy city manager for public health and safety, told Fox News Digital on Friday that it still feels like the “calm before the storm” after the Title 42 public health order expired on Thursday.
“We know that there was over [1,700], almost 1,800 apprehensions by Border Patrol in the El Paso sector yesterday alone. We know that their processing center is over capacity. There are well over 6,000 in custody at this point in time. And so those numbers will see a throughput, they will be released. And so we’ll be seeing those numbers coming throughout the weekend,” he said.
Daily migrant encounters had soared above the 10,000 mark border-wide before the end of Title 42, but there are indications that numbers did not increase further after the order ended later Thursday. It had been feared that there would be a new surge once the order — which allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border — ended as migrants believe that they are more likely to be admitted to the U.S.
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D’Agostino said he believes the city, which had seen thousands of migrants camped out along the street earlier this week, had seen fewer migrants after a federal judge blocked the Biden administration from releasing migrants into the interior without a court date in a late Thursday decision. Florida had sought a temporary restraining order on the policy, and that was granted for two weeks by a federal judge.
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“They put a stay last night on the ruling where they couldn’t do the rapid paroles,” D’Agostino said. “The rapid paroles mean people are released a lot quicker than normal. And that’s where it really burdens the city. So with that going away, I think that’s why we see it today with lesser numbers. I think if that hadn’t had a stay on that last night, we would be seeing a large influx right now of them decompressing their shelters.”
He said that the population coming into border towns like El Paso mostly wants to get away from the border to places like the East Coast, and will travel deeper into the interior. He said that there needs to be policy changes from Washington to deal with the surge of migrants coming across in such large numbers.
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“There needs to be policy changes at the federal level, they need to come together and they need to make the policy changes in order to control the flow,” D’Agostino said. “While I understand people want to come to America, they want that shot. They want that piece of the American dream. I completely understand that. But there has to be an orderly process to it.”
He noted the people camping out on streets, and the health and sanitation issues related to that.
“Coming in is not just a free-for-all,” D’Agostino said. “There has to be a process.”
He highlighted that migrants often don’t have court dates for years and may not be able to work in that time, which hurts migrants’ ability to be self-sufficient.
“It’s a concern, it’s a concern for the safety of not only the migrants themselves, but the community at large. And so, yeah, I think it’s time for those policy changes,” said D’Agostino.
Fox News’ Isabelle McDonnell contributed to this report.
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