El Paso used to be so beautiful at Christmas
Not long ago, a business trip to El Paso and Juárez on the other side was a lot of fun. First, the people are great. Second, the restaurants offered a variety of food, and December gave you a taste of Christmas decorations highlighting the mixed border culture.
Not this year. El Paso is now all about the border crisis. This is from the Texas Tribune:
The emergency declaration that allows El Paso to protect migrants by taking them off the streets and putting them in temporary shelters was extended for 30 days during a special City Council meeting Friday night.
For the past six months, El Paso has been the epicenter of a migrant influx that does not appear to be letting up and may get worse if Title 42 is lifted next week.
Title 42 is a COVID-19 public health order initiated by President Trump in 2020 and expanded by President Biden that allowed border agents to immediately expel many migrants without an opportunity to request asylum. The Supreme Court is reviewing a federal judge's ruling from November that the program must end.
My friends in El Paso are saying enough is enough. It's a mixed message. On the one hand, they sympathize with the arrivals, especially the ones from Venezuela. Some are helping with a smile and charity. On the other hand, they don't think their city can take this anymore. I had a friend tell me in Spanish something about not having the space for all the arrivals. He added that it was more sensible when they stayed in Mexico under President Trump's order, canceled in 2021.
So what's next? It depends whom you ask. The White House keeps putting off presenting a program to do anything. The people I spoke with in El Paso want the matter resolved immediately.
Last, but not least, we've had three days of frigid temperatures with wind chill factors that remind me of living in Wisconsin. The cold weather is complicating things all over. It's like a perfect storm: below-freezing temperatures and a rise in migrant crossings at the Texas-Mexico border.
People are screaming for help in El Paso and longing for those days of yesteryear, when they celebrated their bilingual "Christmas-Navidad" with family and cheer. "No se puede" in 2022!
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Image: Susan Barnum.