The Trump administration release of the migrants was confirmed by local media, and attracted the attention of Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke, whose Senate run this year to unseat Ted Cruz has led many to believe he could be a strong candidate in 2020 if he runs for president.
“They’re coming from immigration cells so they’re coming hungry, they’re coming thirsty, most haven’t bathed in a long time,” Dylan Corbett, the executive director for the Hope Border Institute, told CBS News.
“About half of them were children and some parents had more than one child with them”, Mr Corbett told CNN in a separate interview. ”ICE has communicated no drop offs will be taking place tomorrow, and all migrants have been received at different Annunciation House shelters”.
All told, 186 migrants were released in downtown El Paso at a bus stop, where they were then led by volunteers to a parking lot at a nearby restaurant where they were helped and fed.
Mr O’Rourke, who filmed a video of himself as he served migrants food, said that he has been told another 500 people are expected to be dropped off on Wednesday.
ICE said earlier this week in a statement that the mass releases are intended to make sure that families are not held longer than they are legally allowed to be detained.
In the statement, ICE blamed “decades of inaction by Congress” for the situation, and said that the government is “severely constrained in its ability to detain and promptly remove families with no legal basis to remain in the US”.
The releases come as the Trump administration has attempted to crack down on immigration into the United States, and as the president has forced a government shutdown over funding for his promised border wall between the US and Mexico.
Non-essential government operations have been halted since Friday, when funding for government services ran out.
Mr Trump has spent the time in Washington since then, after initially planning to go on vacation at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
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