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EL PASO, Texas – The recent surge of migrants across the southern border has strained city resources and homeless shelters in El Paso, but residents Fox News spoke with were split on whether the increase is cause for concern.
“I think it’s great that Joe Biden let everybody in,” Michael said. “This country could use workers of all kinds. Right? Teachers, Venezuelan restaurants. And I think it’s a good thing for America.”
Residents of the border city are used to migrants filtering through, but have noticed an increase in the last few months. Last week, photos showed crowds of migrants camped out on city streets as local homeless shelters ran out of room. Now the sidewalks are clear of sleeping bags and tents and there are less frequent crowds outside the Greyhound station, but shelter workers aren’t sure how long the lull will last.
Carmen told Fox News she’s “very disappointed” with the city’s response.
“I think they need to find a way to get things going better for [the migrants] and for us,” she said. “They’re just sleeping everywhere and anywhere, and there’s no more room on the homeless shelters anymore. So, you know, it’s pretty bad.”
Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida have faced criticism for bussing migrants to blue cities, with some Democrats comparing the practice to “human trafficking.”
El Paso has also sent more than 80 busloads of migrants to New York City and Chicago as of Thursday, Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino told Fox News. But Mayor Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, has been largely exempt from criticism. Leeser said the city is sending migrants where they want to go.
“We would never use people as pawns to send them anywhere else,” Leeser said. “We want to send them to say where they want to go, where they got friends and family.”
Michael said he supports the city’s bussing of migrants to other American cities as long as the migrants had family or other connections in those places.
“If they don’t, then they should provide some kind of shelter right here in El Paso until they can get on their feet,” he said.
Carmen agreed that other cities should share the responsibility of caring for migrants.
“El Paso is already overwhelmed with so many people,” she said.
Jose told Fox News he knows the influx of migrants is “a burden for the city,” but said America has played a role in destabilizing Latin American governments for decades.
“Our government has sent dictators into other countries that have caused hardship for these people,” he said. “So now we as a country have to help these people out.”
Jose described the strain on shelters and the city as a “temporary discomfort.” He said he hopes other states will continue to take in some migrants as well.
“My parents also came to this country with no documents, but they stabilized,” he said. “They were able to get their immigration documents. And we’ve thrived. We’ve contributed to the community in many ways.”
Jose’s son, Jose Jr., told Fox News he thinks Americans across the country should welcome migrants into their communities.
“It’s America,” he said. “We’ve always told people this is a land of opportunity. And if you are willing to take that time and work towards a better opportunity in life, then this is where you’re going to come and thrive.”
Leeser said safety is the city’s top priority moving forward.
“Having people on the street would not be what you would want to do in your community,” he said. “El Paso is one of the safest cities in the country and will continue to be.”