MCALLEN, Tex. — Border Patrol detention centers in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley have soared well past their capacity in recent days, prompting mass releases of migrants onto the streets as local leaders scramble to house and feed hundreds of new arrivals daily.
“They’re as stressed as we are,” Jim Darling, mayor of the South Texas border city of McAllen, said of Border Patrol officials. The officials have released more than 2,200 people from government processing facilities in the Rio Grande Valley since Monday, setting aside once again the Trump administration’s vow to end what it calls “catch and release” of those who cross the border without authorization.
“We’re trying to determine how many sites we have to have. The last thing we want is people walking our streets and having to sleep in doorways,” Mr. Darling said.
The primary migrant-services facility in the region, a former nursing home in McAllen now used by Catholic Charities as an immigrant respite center, is already reaching capacity, with nearly every inch of the low-slung red-brick building occupied.
The air was thick with the smell of sweat Tuesday evening, with dozens of people waiting for assistance at the front of the building. Two government buses pulled up outside to drop off even more: 54 in one bus and 57 in the second. On Wednesday, migrants slept on blue padded mats on the floors of small crowded rooms as they waited for rides to the downtown bus station.
In El Paso, the sudden release of about 150 migrants on Tuesday set in motion a flurry to try to accommodate them. A network of shelters run by the nonprofit Annunciation House had no more space, so city officials converted a public park into a staging area, until space for the migrants was found at local hotels.
Unauthorized border crossings have spiked in recent months, with more than 76,000 migrants apprehended on the southwest border in February, an 11-year high. Processing facilities in El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley region in South Texas have swelled with migrant families in recent days. Early Tuesday, Border Patrol agents at the border fence in El Paso apprehended a group of 194 men, women and children traveling together. About five minutes later, agents in another part of the city took in a second group of 252 migrants.