Migrants in El Paso, Texas — the current epicenter of the border crisis — have been linked to serious and violent crimes including car theft, gun threats and drug trafficking, according to local police.
The latest incident involved a Venezuelan migrant who was attempting to sell cocaine to other border crossers Sunday, according to El Paso Police Department. The alleged dealer, Yovani Jose Sanchez, was turned in by other migrants who are camped out and sleeping near the city’s Sacred Heart Church.
The 22-year-old was booked into the county jail, while four other migrants accused of being associated with his business were turned over to US Border Patrol.
Separately, a Venezuelan man and woman were arrested by officers Wednesday when they were driving the wrong way down a street in a stolen car, the cops said.
The migrants, who have been sleeping on downtown streets in the cold since the week before Christmas, have also been victims. A man named Steven Mathew Driscoll was arrested and charged for harassing and pointing a gun at the migrant street camp, the department said. The 27-year-old Texas man was also charged for evading officers who tried to stop him.
The police department did not respond to The Post’s request for comment, but said in a release it had increased the number of officers in areas where migrants congregate. El Paso has a reputation for being a safe large city with crime rates below the national average. One study analyzing FBI data even found it was the third-safest large city in the nation to live in.
El Paso has been dealing with a huge influx of migrants throughout 2022, releasing between 3,000 and 10,000 asylum seekers into the US a week. In December, the mayor declared a state of emergency, as the thousands of migrants streaming across the US-Mexico boundary — both legally and illegally — overwhelmed the city’s services, with things reaching a boiling point.
Former Mayor Dee Margo called the situation a potential tinderbox in which either migrants could be hurt or public safety could be compromised.
“You could have a violent outburst; you could have people who say ‘I’ve had enough’– [and] demand this or demand that,” Margo told The Post Monday.
“If I were mayor, I would demand that [US Customs and Border Protection] remove anybody on our streets was wasn’t processed.”
Margo, a Republican who was in office just before the current Democratic mayor, explained how many of the migrants sleeping the streets of the west Texas city are in the country illegally, having sneaked over the border and joined those waiting for food, shelter and onward travel.
Local officers don’t have the authority to ask a suspect about their legal status in the country, tying the hands of local law enforcement, Margo pointed out.
“The solution is federal; we can only do so much as a city,” he said. “Yes, we want to maintain order, but we don’t have any authority over immigration enforcement. It’s an untenable, long-term issue.”