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El Paso Locals Divided Over Illegal Immigration

'This is really a problem for the two countries ... because the truth is that I think that instead of coming to ask for help, they are demanding' Mexican immigrant told Timcast News

El Paso Locals Divided Over Illegal Immigration

EL PASO, Texas – A flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants was expected to pour across the U.S. southern border from Mexico in the wake of Title 42 ending last week.

But, that surge never materialized, in part because of a Trump-era rule rebooted by the Biden administration, which requires asylum-seekers to first seek protection in a country they enter before they reach the U.S.

Rather than the estimated thousands of migrants lining the streets of El Paso, the actual figure is considerably fewer. Also helping cool the problem of overcrowded shelters and migrants living on the streets in homeless encampments are the enforcement actions taken by officials to bus asylum seekers to other U.S. cities, and further measures taken to process and remove migrants from the U.S.

As authorities from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and city officials continue to contend with the problems connected to the end of Title 42, locals are divided over the issue of illegal immigration.

Alex Contreras, 46, is a groundskeeper who lives in El Paso and believes that people seeking a better life are welcome to America, but that they should come to the U.S. legally.

[caption id="attachment_951956" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Alex Contreras, Mexican immigrant who became a U.S. citizen. (Adrian Norman/Timcast News)[/caption]

“This is really a problem for the two countries, both for Mexico and for the United States, because the truth is that I think that instead of coming to ask for help, they are demanding,” Contreras, speaking of asylum seekers, told Timcast News in an interview

Taking time away from working on his mother’s trailer on a mild, partly cloudy day, Contreras explained that he, as a Mexican immigrant, knows all too well the difficulty with journeying to America from another country.

It took him an entire decade to get through the process of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

And while recognizing the difficulties many face with the clunky and imperfect immigration system America currently has, he says that others who want to move to the U.S. should do so “under the laws that the United States requires.”

Others locals with strong connections to the migrant community feel that the U.S. should be doing more to allow asylum seekers into the country.

“Well, these people are coming down here to look for a better future,” Hector Martinez, a 55-year-old El Paso native, told Timcast News.

Martinez works at a local Mexican restaurant less than a mile from the U.S. southern border.

“I've fed a lot of Venezuelans and I mean, they've all gone up to places where they're going to be received and to work and have a better future for them,” he said.

Martinez says that he and his friends have noticed a big drop-off in the number of migrants on the streets. 

“I know we had a whole bunch coming in, because we used to go downtown by the Sacred Heart Church,” he explained. “And you would see them, tons and tons of these people.” Other locals confirmed that the city has been so flooded with migrants that officials had to convert elementary schools into shelters.

Martinez describes El Paso as “friendly to whoever comes in,” which is part of the reason that so many non-citizens, whom he described as “thankful,” flock to the area. He also believes that others who migrated to the U.S. and were able to become citizens should have more concern and empathy for people now attempting to make the same journey.

“I have friends that have said, ‘Why are they here? They come over here, this and that’ and they started the same way. Or they have Mexican families that are still in Mexico, or in Juarez, that don't have papers or nothing,” he explained. “I mean, why are they being ugly to these people when they themselves sometimes came over here the same way?”

He continued, “I say to myself, you have family, you have roots with people in Mexico that [are] friends or whatever that come illegally over here, and you don't say nothing about them. Why say something about other people? We're all humans.”

Currently, Martinez is helping a friend who came across the border illegally and turned herself in to authorities last week. She and her friends surrendered to El Paso officials last week, were fingerprinted and are in the process of waiting for paperwork. Upon receiving documents from the government, presumably with a future court date, they will be released.

His friend traveled to the U.S. from Venezuela and has already been able to secure two jobs, which she uses to support herself and her two kids, a teenage boy and teenage girl, back in her home country. She also provides financially for her parents.

Martinez has been a source of help for many migrants stranded in shelters or on the streets, delivering bottled water and food, at his own expense. He also gives them cash to take care of whatever needs may arise.

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