Without notifying local charities and shelters, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) quietly released hundreds of asylum-seekers from federal custody on Christmas Eve, leaving them at an El Paso, Texas bus stop without money, food, or anywhere to go.
According to the Texas Tribune, ICE “agents began dropping off the migrants late Sunday at a local bus station without warning local shelters that usually take in large groups after they seek asylum and are released by federal agents. About 200 arrived Sunday, about 200 more arrived Monday and the total number could exceed 800 by Wednesday.”
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Annunciation House, an El Paso charitable organization that provides shelter for migrants and the homeless, confirmed on its Facebook page that it was not given notice that hundreds of migrants were being released without anywhere to go for food and shelter.
“Annunciation House—and our network of partner organizations and volunteers—is providing hospitality to the 200+ refugees who were dropped off by ICE last night at the Greyhound Station with no advanced notice,” the organization wrote in a post asking for volunteers and donations. “This is in addition to our ongoing work with planned refugee releases. Annunciation House has been very grateful for the community’s rapid response in meeting the urgent needs of this vulnerable population.”
In a statement, Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Texas)—who is replacing outgoing Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)—condemned ICE for showing “reckless disregard for very vulnerable people, including children. It is unacceptable.”
Escobar noted that ICE is expected to drop off hundreds more migrants on Christmas Day, and urged the public to contribute whatever they can to help Annunciation House and other charities provide the hundreds of asylum-seekers with everything they need.
“I am very grateful to all of those who have worked hard to ensure that the migrants passing through our community on their difficult journey are treated with humanity and compassion,” Escobar concluded. “El Paso has never failed those in need and I have faith that, especially during this holiday season, our good will and generosity will prevail.”
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