ICE drops off large group of migrants at El Paso bus terminal

EL PASO, Texas — U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke — a potential candidate in the 2020 presidential election — is calling for donations and help after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped off at least 200 migrants at the El Paso, Texas, bus station.

O’Rourke, whose term representing El Paso expires shortly, posted on Twitter that local shelter Annunciation House needed fresh fruit and unworn clothing.

ICE dropped off the migrants Sunday and Monday at the local Greyhound station, with more buses of people expected on Christmas.

The agency typically coordinates with local shelters to make sure there is space for them to stay.

“All of a sudden a bunch of people show up; ICE drops them off,” Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker said. “We weren’t expecting it. We are not given prior notice.”

U.S. Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar, O’Rourke’s successor, said ICE officials dropped people off at the bus station after Annunciation House said it didn’t have enough space.

The waiting area at the bus terminal is small and many people were left standing outside in the cold. The group of undocumented immigrants included some families and small children.

Four buses later arrived for people to board and stay warm, a police spokesman said.

“We weren’t going to put 200 people on the streets of El Paso on a cold night. We wouldn’t do that,” Sgt. Robert Gomez said.

Escobar called ICE’s action “really alarming.”

ICE said in an emailed statement that after decades of inaction by Congress, the government is limited in what it can do to remove families who are in the United States illegally.

“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, which did not specifically refer to the Sunday night incident in El Paso, read.

“ICE continues to work with local and state officials and NGO partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.”

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