Residents scramble to help hundreds of migrants unexpectedly left in El Paso by ICE

Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly dropped more than 200 migrants at a bus station in El Paso Sunday night..
Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly dropped more than 200 migrants at a bus station in El Paso Sunday night.. ICE

More than 200 undocumented immigrants were dropped off outside a Greyhound bus terminal in downtown El Paso late Sunday night by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, reports say.

Residents scrambled to help them as the enforcement agency sent no advance warning to area shelters, the El Paso Times reported.

And a reporter with the El Paso Herald Post reported Monday afternoon that another group of unknown size was dropped off at the same station shortly after 2 p.m. Another group of roughly 200 is expected to be dropped off tonight, the Herald Post reported.

“All of a sudden a bunch of people show up; ICE drops them off,” Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker told CNN. “We weren’t expecting it. We are not given prior notice.”

Several of the immigrants told the station they had no money for food, phone calls or bus tickets and hadn’t eaten all day.

The waiting area at the station was too small to accommodate everyone, leaving many waiting outside in the cold, an El Paso police spokesman told CNN.

While they waited, El Paso residents brought them pizza, fruit and water, a local FOX affiliate reported.

The call to help the migrants was largely put out through social media, the El Paso Times reported.

The FOX affiliate reported that grown men and women, along with small children and infants, were loaded on Sun Metro buses at the station and eventually taken to hotels and schools for housing in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

Some of them, who hail from countries including Honduras and Guatemala, were later taken back to the bus station to get tickets to stay with relatives who live in the United States, reports say.

CNN and other outlets reported there were 200 undocumented immigrants, but a local NBC affiliate was told by officials from an immigration shelter that there were roughly 400 migrants.

Because of the government shutdown, the ICE employee who would field questions from the media is not required to work, the FOX affiliate reported.

It has not been verified where the migrants have been taken from.

Shortly after 2 p.m., U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke tweeted about the issue, saying it will happen again on Christmas Day and on Wednesday.

“Hundreds of migrant families released onto the streets of El Paso on Christmas Eve, without food, money or help. ICE says more will be released tomorrow and following day,” O’Rourke tweeted.

O’Rourke included a link to donate to an El Paso migrant shelter.

Hundreds gathered at the Tarrant County Court House for the Families Belong Together March and Rally in Fort Worth. The march protested the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents upon arrival to the U.S.

Stephen English covers breaking news for the Star-Telegram. He attended Texas Wesleyan University and has lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for more than 30 years.