City gives tour of former Bassett Middle School, serving as migrant shelter
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The City of El Paso’s Office of Emergency Management gave local media outlets a tour on Friday of the former Bassett Middle School in Central El Paso which will serve as a temporary shelter for migrants.
This is one of two vacant schools that the El Paso Independent School District offered to the city for the use of shelters. The other building is the former Morehead Middle School in West El Paso. The city is also using the El Paso Convention Center to shelter migrants as processing centers are at capacity.
El Paso Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said they opened the facility already and are now processing as of Friday morning, with about 100 people at this time.
“We want the community to understand this facility right here, Bassett, is for family units,” D’Agostino said. “These are people who have been processed by CBP and Border Patrol and awaiting their transportation to their final destination wherever that may be.
D’Agostino said there will be security onsite 24/7 and it’s a closed facility, meaning they will stay there until they leave to a bus terminal or the airport.
“So, it’s not like the folks here are going to see a lot of people walking to the neighborhoods, it doesn’t add that, people are going to see the parking lot busy and that is the employees working here,” D’Agostino said.
The school is set up to house 500 people.
D’Agostino said Border Patrol apprehensions have been low, meaning releases have been low.
“We are being proactive in putting the plans in place to open this facility, but at this time we’re monitoring the numbers and looking at the trends, as well as working with federal partners,” D’Agostino said.
The deputy city manager also touched on the group of migrants currently camped in Downtown El Paso at Sacred Heart Church. He said most of those are refusing to go to shelters or refusing transportation.
“They are people who came into the country in anticipation of the end of Title 42, they are not processed by CBP and are waiting for that process so they can come into the country legally,” D’Agostino said.
He added the city has staff and law enforcement in the area to provide support to those campsites in Downtown El Paso.