Multiple networks and national publications have carried interviews with Blake Barrow, CEO of Rescue Mission of El Paso (Texas) the past few days. Between 800 and 1,000 migrants crossed into Texas from Mexico this past Sunday night, and the numbers have not slowed down. El Paso’s predicament is known to be the worst among U.S.-Mexico border towns.
Blake told the New York Times, the mission has been “bursting at the seams. The numbers are like nothing I’ve seen for the last 25 years.” Blake told one network reporter, “Honestly, I don’t know how to address this problem. The situation is overwhelming us.”
Citygate Network President John Ashmen spoke with Blake on Tuesday. Blake told John that buses were arriving at the mission, dropping people off, and driving away. Blake was going to talk to his board about opening another facility to help another 150 per night, but he says that’s just a drop in the bucket. Blake continued, “Many of the people who are arriving now are from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and they can get asylum much quicker than those coming from other parts of Central and South America, because the U.S. policy is not to return people to communist countries. But these people have to wait 100 days before they can get a work permit.”
Blake also told John that almost everybody who arrives has a cellphone, and they all seem to know at least one person in the U.S. “They’re all on their phones, trying to get those people to come pick them up or send them a bus ticket. The average stay seems to be about three days.” Other Citygate Network members along the southern border are facing the same problem. John has reached out to contacts in the White House to talk about assistance options for member organizations like Blake’s. Citygate Network will keep you posted on the situation.