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Welcome center in El Paso helps with massive influx of migrants

This welcome center provides everyone in need with basic medical care, hygiene essentials and resources.
Welcome center in El Paso helps with massive influx of migrants
Posted at 5:41 PM, Sep 27, 2023

It’s easy for the noise outside to drown out all the work that’s happening inside a welcome center in El Paso, Texas, where two chefs are cooking for up to 180 people taking refuge. 

These nonprofit houses help feed migrants who’ve crossed the southwest border into El Paso, Texas.

Many are families with children, some in need of vital care. This welcome center provides everyone in need with basic medical care, hygiene essentials and resources.

John Martin is the deputy director for the Opportunity Center for the Homeless. He says the nonprofit started seeing large numbers of migrants back in August of 2022, adding that in recent weeks, the number of border crossings spiked. 

SCRIPPS NEWS' ADI GUAJARDO: Are we on the cusp of a migrant crisis or are we in a migrant crisis?  

JOHN MARTIN: I believe personally, we're already there.

At the Welcome Center they've housed thousands of migrants. There's plenty of space for kids to play, but it's a different story at night. 

In recent weeks, rooms have exceeded capacity by more than 50%. Martin says the downtown shelter network which includes their nonprofit has housed roughly 15,000 migrants, only a fraction of the total number entering the city. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection tracked 364,000 migrants encounters so far this fiscal year in the El Paso sector, a 59% increase over last year.   

Many of the migrants talk of being threatened and robbed during their long, fraught journeys to the U.S.-Mexico border with little or no cash and limited resources. 

Many are staying in El Paso longer. With shelters over capacity, many are sleeping on sidewalks and in alleys. To help cope with the influx of migrants in the city, El Paso opened an emergency shelter over the weekend to house an additional 400 migrants, but housing remains a challenge.

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