EL PASO, Texas — Two migrants were arrested in El Paso in the final days of 2022 as thousands of asylum seekers — and illegal migrants unwilling to wait for the expiration of Title 42 — continued to overwhelm the border city.
On Friday, a man was tackled by cops and arrested outside of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church after he ran from an El Paso police officer questioning him, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
El Paso police didn’t clarify why the suspect was questioned — or if he was in the country legally. The church had been providing shelter to asylum seekers expelled under the continuing health emergency measure — and who entered illegally after the Supreme Court halted its expiration.
A day earlier, a migrant was busted for trying to charge fellow asylum seekers to enter a free warming bus set up by the city after shelters reached capacity, state officials said.
The alleged scam emerged as migrants who had been sleeping on the street sought refuge from temperatures hovered in the 40s and low 50s Thursday.
“For the majority it’s usually pretty calm, but you’re going to have your bad apples,” DPS Sgt. Eliot Torres told The Post, explaining the potential for criminal activity grows the longer migrants remain unsheltered in El Paso.
“Problems are going to arise. As with anything, the longer it lasts, people are going to get agitated and something could happen,” Torres said.
US Customs and Border Protection had encountered an average of 1,263 asylum seekers a day over the past week in El Paso — and had housed an average of 1,954 migrants over the same period, according to statistics maintained by the city. But officials said those numbers don’t reflect the true extent of the crisis, as throngs of immigrants who’d been waiting to seek asylum since the start of the pandemic entered the US illegally.
Migrants fleeing Venezuela’s failing government through land crossings had been expelled from the US to Mexico under Title 42 since October as part of a deal brokered by the neighboring countries.
Marbelis Montesinos, 27 — an illegal immigrant from Venezuela who told The Post she’d crossed into the US unlawfully on three occasions — witnessed the arrest outside the church.
“If that man hit an officer, it’s very bad. Because of him, now it’s possible that authorities will be stricter with us,” Montesinos said.
“It will complicate our situation when we are just trying to advance. We’re just here to work.”