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Customs And Border Protection Officials Say Their Holding Facilities Are At Capacity

KORVA COLEMAN, HOST:

We're going to start our program at the southern border, where large numbers of migrants continue to cross. Customs and Border Protection officials say their holding facilities are at capacity, and they're beginning to release some families immediately. Mallory Falk of member station KRWG reports from El Paso.

MALLORY FALK, BYLINE: On the border in El Paso, there is a network of shelters for migrants who've just been released from government custody. Taylor Levy is with Annunciation House, the local nonprofit that coordinates those shelters. She says, on Wednesday, they began to receive migrants directly from Border Patrol in addition to ICE - hundreds at a time.

TAYLOR LEVY: Some single adults are going directly onto the streets, and hopefully they're able to buy their tickets. We're just doing everything possible to keep children off the streets.

FALK: Local shelters and churches are scrambling to house the growing number of families apprehended at the border. Annunciation House has been renting motel rooms. The city is stepping in too, dedicating $20,000 to fund a volunteer coordinator. Unused city buses are transporting migrants to shelters. El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar held a press conference Friday to discuss the city's response.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VERONICA ESCOBAR: When the federal government fails in this way, unfortunately, the burden ends up falling on the local community.

FALK: Some migrants are still being held under the Paso Del Norte International Bridge by Customs and Border Protection in a tent surrounded by fencing and razor wire. On Saturday morning, the bridge was blocked off by concrete barricades, making it difficult to see just how many people are being held there. Taylor Levy meets some of these migrants once they're released.

LEVY: People telling us they're spending four to five nights there. We are seeing toddlers who have bruises on their back from laying on the gravel because they're such big rocks.

FALK: A CBP official says more than 3,400 migrants are in custody in the El Paso sector. For NPR News, I'm Mallory Falk in El Paso. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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