The administration of United States President Joe Biden is facing pressure to address a recent swell of arrivals at the country’s southern border as local officials warn their resources may soon reach a “breaking point”.
On Monday, the city council in El Paso, Texas, unanimously approved the purchase of a former middle school to help accommodate overflow from refugee shelters.
Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said the city was receiving approximately 2,000 arrivals per day as migrants and asylum seekers make their way across the US-Mexico border.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser warned that the influx could strain what the city is capable of handling.
The spike in arrivals at the southern border has renewed scrutiny of the Biden administration, which had, until recently, touted a drop in arrests along the US’s southwest border. In May, the administration implemented new restrictions on irregular border crossings, including penalties like a five-year ban on reentry into the US and possible criminal prosecution. The rollout of those policies coincided with a decline in crossings. From May to June, arrests along the southwest border tumbled from 206,703 to 144,570, a 30-percent drop.
But those numbers have since ticked back up, with the US Border Patrol documenting 232,972 apprehensions in August. More than 248,901 people were documented navigating the jungle in the first half of this year, blowing past the previous record set for the whole of 2022.
In recent months, the US has also set up “safe mobility” centers in countries like Guatemala and Colombia in an attempt to deter migrants and asylum seekers from making the journey north.
The centers are designed to channel prospective migrants towards “legal pathways” for arriving in the US.
But critics, particularly in the Republican Party, have argued those measures have not been successful in stemming the flow of migration.
On Monday, one of those critics, Texas Representative Tony Gonzales, visited Eagle Pass, a border city of 28,255 that was declared a state of disaster last week amid the migration influx.
Earlier this month, the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, named the US-Mexico border the most dangerous land route for migrants and asylum seekers, with approximately 1,457 deaths and disappearances documented last year.