A massive desert tent for migrants, which The Post was first to report, opened in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday with a capacity to house 1,000 people, the US Border Patrol said.
The huge tent — the size of 23 football fields — is a temporary structure on the city’s outskirts, built to help border agents process migrants who have been flooding across the border in their thousands and keep them from spilling over onto the streets and overwhelming the local population.
Customs and Border Protection also have a permanent processing center near the tent in Texas’s sixth largest city which has a 1,040-person limit. That tent has been pushed to the brink multiple times since early 2022, when the border city first started experiencing a migrant and humanitarian crisis.
In previous months, migrants have been sardined into the El Paso Processing Center or flown to other centers along the border to have their biometrics run, criminal background checked and a record of their entry into the country made.
The federal agency started building the so-called “soft-sided structure” in December in preparation for the end of Title 42.
At the time, the border city was expecting as many as 5,000 migrants crossing the US-Mexico boundary per day if Title 42 — the COVID-era policy that has allowed the Border Patrol to kick asylum-seeking immigrants out of the country, had ended. Instead, it has been kept in place after a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court by the attorney generals from 19 states.
Although the tent is meant to alleviate the pressure on El Paso, as it opened the number of migrants crossing into the city had dropped from 2,500 a month ago to just 570 by Monday, according to official figures from the council.
After the city declared a state of emergency in December, the state sent extra law enforcement to El Paso, including 400 Texas National Guard members. Since then, the number of migrants attempting to cross into the US has started to drop.
Last week President Joe Biden also announced asylum-seeking immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua would be expelled from the country if they didn’t go through the correct port of entry to seek refuge.
Border Patrol also rounded up illegal immigrants who had previously been allowed to roam the streets of El Paso last week — just in time for the President’s three-hour visit the city on Sunday.
US Customs and Border Protection said it is constantly evaluating if “temporary facilities will be needed,” to house extra migrants when they come into the country.
The El Paso tent is a temporary measure like the one erected by the city of New York and opened on Oct. 19 when it was being flooded with hundreds of migrants bussed in from Texas daily.
However, after a new order was enacted allowing Venezuelans to be expelled from the US under Title 42, the buses stopped and it stood largely vacant for weeks before being quietly taken down over concerns about plunging temperatures. Ironically many of the migrants it had been built to host were being sent to the city from El Paso.