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El Paso approves $2 million to bus migrants out of the city

The El Paso city council voted 3-1 to contract Gogo Charters LLC to “transport migrants to other cities as needed"

September 13, 2022 7:47pm

Updated: September 13, 2022 8:26pm

The City of El Paso approved $2 million over the next 16 months to help bus migrants out of town as their immigration processing centers become overwhelmed. 

On Monday, the El Paso city council voted 3-1 to contract Gogo Charters LLC to “transport migrants to other cities as needed.” Officials expect the Biden administration to reimburse the expenses within the next five to six months. 

According to the presentation to the council, the city has already paid the charter bus company $411,000. 

“This is an emergency. We don’t have money set aside for these particular circumstances. You are giving us the ability to spend up to $2 million with this company; that’s all we’re authorized with this particular company,” said a city official. 

This week, El Paso officials released hundreds of people from federal immigration custody into the streets of the city as authorities deal with overcrowded immigration processing centers and local shelters. 

Around 500 migrants released have been bused out of the city using charter buses. Deputy City Manager Mario D’Agostino said El Paso has sponsored 25 charter buses since August 23. 

Other migrants have been bused to shelters, bus stations, and the El Paso International Airport using the city’s Sun Metro buses, hoping that they could make their way to other U.S. cities, the presentation added.  

Earlier this year, El. Paso approved an emergency ordinance to accommodate the rising number of migrants arriving in the city that could not be expelled from the country. 

“We knew we needed to pay for things that are not within our charter […] so we wanted you to approve that ordinance to give us the ability to do things like the processing/welcome center, to pay for food and water, when necessary, to pay for hotels, to pay for transport,” the city manager said. “There’s a cost to do that, several thousands of dollars. And when you get into three, four, five charters per day, it adds up.”