EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Officers with the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) and crews with city’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) moved into Downtown El Paso Monday and began cleaning the impromptu camp that sprung up around the nearby shelter.
According to our KTSM crew the operation at Father Rahm, just south of Sacred Heart, began shortly before midday. Officials on the scene said a similar clean up operation was underway at and around the Greyhound Bus Station.
ESD crew members and EPPD Officers directed the migrants to pick up what they could, while the rest was transferred to waste bins and dumpsters.
Our KTSM crews captured workers tossing blankets, with Red Cross logos, directly into an ESD truck – as well as other personal items, blankets, clothes and tarps.
“This is a standard clean up to help address public health and safety concerns,” said city spokesperson, Laura Cruz Acosta said. “The City and NGOs are continuing to offer support to those who are out on the street. Again, keep in mind we cannot force people to take the help we or the NGOs are offering. If they do not want the support, then they are receiving fresh items as a public health measure. We continue to host two articulated buses to serve as warming buses.”
EPPD officers made their way from person to person, also directing the migrants and helping workers clear the area.
Venezuelan migrants KTSM spoke with said they were simply there for the help, and were grateful for the help, but the actions of the police and workers disposing of their personal and donated items was “inhumane.”
Sun Metro buses were on scene to provide shelter for some of the migrants, while a van with El Paso Fire Department markings was set to take migrants to the Civic Center, provided they had the correct immigration documents.
Officials with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger arrived on scene and began documenting the clean up, as many of the items had been donated by their organization.
“Throughout this crisis, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank has regularly given out food, beverages, hygiene products, and blankets to migrants on the street and in shelters. It is regrettable to see some of our supplies discarded in today’s recent street cleaning efforts. We will continue our work to care for the migrants in our community because no one should go hungry,” said Susan Goodell, CEO of El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank.
KTSM has reached out to the city for comment on the situation and are awaiting a response.
The clean up comes as the City of El Paso extended the migrant disaster declaration for 30 days and as the city prepares for further and possibly massive migrant releases once border agents can no longer use the Title 42 public health order to expel migrants.
The Supreme Court could green-light the end of Title 42 as early as Tuesday, December 27.
As this is a developing situation, look for updates here on KTSM.com and during our newscasts at 4:30, 5, 6 and 10 p.m.
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