The city of El Paso, Texas, received hundreds of unexpected this Christmas week in the form of migrants brought in by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
According to CBS News, roughly 400 migrants were released in El Paso two days before Christmas, and almost 200 on Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. (and failed Senate candidate) Robert “Beto” O’Rourke tweeted that another 500 in total are expected on Wednesday.
“Many thanks to volunteers & donors who ensure that we take care of families being released by ICE in El Paso. 200 to be released today. Over 500 tomorrow,” O’Rourke tweeted on Tuesday.
Many thanks to volunteers & donors who ensure that we take care of families being released by ICE in El Paso. 200 to be released today. Over 500 tomorrow. Please make a donation that will go to food and beds here: https://t.co/062olx7YIp pic.twitter.com/IPpFXCtiR8
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) December 25, 2018
The reason for the migrants’ unexpected appearance is restrictions on how long ICE is allowed to detain migrants, CBS reported.
In a statement released on Monday, ICE pointed the finger at Congress for the restraints put on the agency to cope with the influx of migrants.
“After decades of inaction by Congress, the government remains severely constrained in its ability to detain and promptly remove families with no legal basis to remain in the U.S.” the statement said, according to KDBC, CBS4 in El Paso.
“To mitigate the risk of holding family units past the timeframe allotted to the government, ICE has curtailed reviews of post-release plans from families apprehended along the southwest border,” the statement went on.
“ICE continues to work with local and state officials and (non-governmental organization) partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.”
O’Rourke, whose avidly liberal politics have landed him on the left of the debate on the increasing number of migrants requesting asylum, was out helping to coordinate efforts to take care of the hundreds of homeless migrants.
O’Rourke requested that ICE give the community more notice in the future when large numbers of migrants are being released.
According to KFVS12, El Paso expects a total of more than 1,200 undocumented migrants over the course of the week, with no housing, or means of feeding and taking care of themselves.
KDBC reported that at least part of the group is made up of Honduran asylum-seekers who were detained by ICE.
At least one child had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital because of illness.
The others were taken to area nonprofit shelters, KDBC reported.