Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that the military personnel assisting migrants in Downtown El Paso were members of the Texas State Guard. A previous version incorrectly identified them as members of the Texas Army National Guard:
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Members of the Texas State Guard on Monday morning could be seen inside a community center in Downtown El Paso that has served as a staging point to bus released migrants to New York City.
El Paso’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been taking care of the busing, but on Monday, officials at the scene told reporters that locals were handing it off to the state of Texas. An official who said he was not authorized to talk on the record, said El Paso’s OEM reached out to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, hence the state involvement. The official referred all press inquiries to TDEM.
In a statement to KTSM, the Texas Military Department said it, “in conjunction with our interagency partners, is assisting with escort functions as part of Operation Lone Star along the Texas-Mexico border.”
Border Farm Workers Center Executive Director Carlos Marentes said he has been renting a portion of his organization’s building to the El Paso Opportunity Center for the Homeless.
Marentes said he had been working with city officials in assisting migrants with transportation but only recently became aware of Texas military personnel inside the building.
Marentes has spoken out against Operation Lone Star and the use the National Guard for immigration enforcement but said he planned to meet with city officials to discuss the role of Texas military personnel.
In an email late Monday, El Paso municipal officials said the city and the OEM are “working with the State of Texas to help augment efforts to provide transportation to migrants that do not have sponsors.”
The city said it provides care packages and coordinates with other government officials and nonprofits to receive the released migrants regardless of who ends up transporting them to the interior of the country.
“The City/OEM provides care packages and coordinates with officials and NGOs to receive them regardless of who is transporting. OEM and the City will continue to coordinate support as we have always done in current and previous migrant crises situations to prevent releases to the street,” the City of El Paso statement said.
El Paso has sent four buses to New York City this month and one to Dallas in June, the statement said.
A Border Report and KTSM crew on Monday witnessed the arrival of a white bus with a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) sign to the Border Farm Workers Center on Oregon Street.
About a dozen females exited the bus one by one and were directed to tables inside the center where people dressed in civilian garb, with National Guard troops sitting in a nearby table, welcomed them and directed them to file or present paperwork.
In April, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the TDEM to charter buses to transport migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C. The TDEM more recently has been busing some of those migrants released from DHS custody in Texas to New York City, according to the state website.