BY CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ ( CBS NEWS )
The incoming congresswoman of the Texas border city of El Paso is warning of an imminent "crisis" as local officials and charities scramble to accommodate at least 1,600 migrants dropped off there by federal authorities in recent days.
Representative-elect Veronica Escobar, a Democrat, told CBS News, "We have these teams coming in to play in our Sun Bowl this weekend and the hotels are booked," referring to the college football game El Paso has hosted since 1935. "We're facing a real crisis coming up … to find places for all of these (migrant) families."
Escobar said migrants who can't be housed in shelters have been staying in hotel rooms paid by Annunciation House, the non-profit spearheading the efforts to house and feed them. But, she said, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues releasing large numbers of migrants, the El Paso community will struggle to find places for them because many hotels have been booked by people attending Monday's game.
Escobar added it's already been "very, very difficult and very challenging" to put up the migrants dropped off by ICE. And, she said, the coming hotel crunch will only make the task tougher.
In a bilingual press conference Thursday, Annunciation House Executive Director Ruben Garcia said ICE has released more than 1,600 migrants in El Paso since Sunday. He said a drop-off Wednesday of more than 500 migrants was the largest he's witnessed, and ICE released approximately 320 more Thursday.
An ICE spokesperson told CBS News the agency is releasing large numbers of migrants because of overcrowding in its holding facilities and to avoid violating Flores agreement limitations on the time families can remain detained by immigration authorities. The spokesperson added that ICE is notifying local officials and groups before conducting drop offs in El Paso, but warned that charities are informing the agency they are struggling to accommodate more migrants.