The Texas border city of El Paso, declared in a state of disaster, is preparing to receive and care for a flood of up to 6,000 migrants if next Wednesday a rule that authorizes expelling them from the US in certain cases ceases to apply.

According to municipal sources cited by the local press, between 4,000 and 6,000 migrants are expected to arrive in the city starting Wednesday, when Title 42 is scheduled to expire, a legal health measure taken by the Administration of Republican President Donald Trump. (2017-2021).

The mayor of El Paso, Oscar Leeser, announced on Saturday the declaration of a state of emergency for seven days from December 17, and asserted that the City Council will ratify it early next week.

After refusing for weeks to take the action, the mayor said he has changed his mind because the hundreds of asylum seekers released by Border Patrol, including families with children, are on the streets of downtown El Paso living outdoors at sub-zero temperatures. The situation will worsen from this Wednesday, he added.

The mayor said he had spoken with federal authorities and when he asked them if they thought they could handle the situation, the answer they gave him was negative. “When I heard the answer was no, I knew we had to do something right away,” Leeser said.

Title 42 is a public health order intended to stop the cross-border spread of covid-19 that allows border agents to remove certain migrants to Mexico.

Last Friday, an appeals court ruled that Title 42 will expire on Wednesday unless new appeals are filed.

The disaster declaration allows requesting additional resources and support from the state to increase personnel, places of refuge and means of transportation for migrants.

According to the statement, city staff will establish an Emergency Operations Center in El Paso and implement plans to protect the health, safety and well-being of migrants.

Meanwhile, the US Office of Emergency Management has been sending mobile teams to the Mexican border city to help migrants being released by border patrol in downtown El Paso.

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