Local faith organization prepares to welcome asylum seekers, shares covid protocols in place


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso is expected to be the next port where asylum-seeking migrants under the Migrant Protection Protocol program will arrive.

Local immigration advocates and faith leaders are preparing to welcome them with dignity, while also implementing COVID-19 protocols as the migrants travel amid the pandemic.

“Thinking back to 2018, there could be several hundred folks that could be processed into the U.S. at any given day,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director at Hope Border Institute.

As El Paso prepares to receive asylum-seekers who placed in the “Remain in Mexico” program, the numbers are expected to look different than in 2018.

“We’re not going to see those numbers, we’re going to see smaller numbers paroled into the United States. Folks who were put into MPP and waiting the longest, they will be processed first. There will be groups of 20 to 30 people at first,” Corbett shared.

In a partnership between Hope Border Institute and Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, the “Border Refugee Assistance Fund” has been helping support many needs of migrants under the MPP program in Ciudad Juárez since 2018. Some of these needs include food, medical care, coronavirus testing and basic shelter.

“We’ve been working with the network of shelters in Ciudad Juárez,” Corbett said. “There are more than 15 shelters that have opened their doors to provide hospitality to migrants. They provide a lot of needs from beds, mattresses to heaters to make sure folks can get through the winter cold. To washers and dryers, all the things you’d expect folks to need.”

As the expected group of migrants is en route to El Paso, the monitoring of COVID-19 is in place.

“Migrants, before they come into the community, will be tested for COVID. Only those who are able to get a negative result will be processed into the United States. From there, they’ll go to shelters here in El Paso, and then they’ll move on,” Corbett shared.

If a positive case is detected, “There are plans in place to make sure that we can quarantine individuals and that we can do on-the-spot rapid testing to ensure that there is no danger to the community,” Corbett added.

Hope Border Institute said that about 25 migrants will be in the group that’s expected to arrive in El Paso this Friday.

The faith based organization also shared that it has many projects in the works that will support other needs of incoming asylum-seekers. This includes providing internet access and psychological support, such as counseling.

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