EL PASO, Texas, April 3 (UPI) -- A converted warehouse will soon shelter hundreds of migrants as U.S. immigration authorities release more than 4,000 people who are seeking asylum into El Paso each week, according to city officials and the shelter.
Those releases are straining city resources and the shelter, Annunciation House, officials said.
"Our non-profit is overwhelmed," Dee Margo, El Paso's mayor, said in an interview in his City Hall office. When more than 500 migrants are released daily, there's a "capacity problem," the mayor said, but it's now at "saturation point" with more than 700 releases each day.
At a special City Council meeting last week, officials and Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia discussed converting a warehouse to shelter released migrants, saying that one location would be more efficient for coordinating volunteers and transporting the migrants to the bus station and airport.
Hardly any migrants stay longer than two nights in El Paso, instead heading to family and friends elsewhere in the United States.
"We are about to consolidate the shelters into one location because currently Annunciation House has to manage about 26 shelters and they have a hard time coordinating all their volunteers," Margo said.
To solve the problem of coordinating the non-profit's volunteers, the city and county of El Paso will fund a full-time coordinator position at United Way.
"It will be great to have another source of volunteers," Garcia said at a press conference Monday, noting that volunteers and a venue for a central shelter are his primary concerns.
"This new hospitality site will be functional in the not-too-distant future," Garcia said. Although Annunciation House has yet to sign a release, Garcia said, the rent for the first three months will be paid by the Abundant Living Faith community in El Paso. The converted warehouse will have space for 500 cots.
El Paso's migrant releases have surged because U.S. immigration authorities have for weeks been apprehending hundreds crossing each day illegally from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Most migrants are Central American families who cannot be detained and must be released into the interior of the United States pending court hearings, according to immigration officials.
On an official visit to El Paso last week U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan called events on the southern border "an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis."
He added: "And nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso."