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On Christmas Eve, Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) asked people to give assistance to an El Paso, Texas shelter, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dropped 200 migrants and refugees at an El Paso, Texas Greyhound station because the shelter could not accommodate them.
“Hundreds of migrant families released onto the streets of El Paso on Christmas Eve, without food, money or help. ICE says more will be released tomorrow and following day. If you would like to help – please donate to migrant shelter Annunciation House,” he tweeted, along with a link to the shelter’s website.
Hundreds of migrant families released onto the streets of El Paso on Christmas Eve, without food, money or help. ICE says more will be released tomorrow and following day. If you would like to help - please donate to migrant shelter Annunciation House: https://t.co/062olxpA6Z— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) December 24, 2018
Annunciation House is coordinating meals and other volunteer services for the 200 migrants and refugees, according to a post on its Facebook page.
“These are migrants who have been in ICE custody, detained for days, and released after being processed. Their asylum claims will go before a judge and they will ultimately await their hearing while staying with family in different parts of the country,” explained Congresswoman-elect Veronica Escobar, who will replace O’Rourke in Texas’ 16th Congressional district, via email.
According to the Texas Tribune, O’Rourke told reporters Monday that when shelters are full, El Paso emergency services can typically set up shelters if emergency responders are given 24-hour notice. But that didn’t happen this time.
O’Rourke also tweeted out volunteer opportunities and photos from a shelter where he was helping distribute food to migrants and refugees.
“Am at one of the shelters with families helping distribute food now — they are grateful. Kids who arrived sick getting medical care, families able to have a Christmas meal together. Thanks everyone for helping out,” he tweeted.
Am at one of the shelters with families helping distribute food now — they are grateful. Kids who arrived sick getting medical care, families able to have a Christmas meal together. Thanks everyone for helping out!— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) December 25, 2018
Annunciation House has taken in tens of thousands of migrants and refugees at its shelters across the El Paso area, according to the Tribune.
ICE public affairs officials are on furlough during the government shutdown and cannot respond to requests for comment.
H/T Washington Times
Update 1:37pm CT, Dec. 26: In a statement, ICE said that they typically work with non-governmental organizations to help assist families after they are released, but have struggled to do so as of late.
“Due to the rising influx of family units crossing the border, NGOs have expressed they are over capacity and cannot accommodate all the family unit releases.”
“Because ICE is severely limited in providing family detention due to judicial decisions interpreting the Flores Settlement Agreement, the agency is forced to release family units even when the NGOs are unable to provide shelter placement. We are redoubling efforts to work with them and with other local partners so they can attempt to seek other assistance.”
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.