El Paso County is moving to increase help for the migrants who have been surging into the area over the past several weeks.
On Monday, the El Paso County Commissioners Court approved a $6.8 million contract with Providencia Group LLC to establish a Migrant Support Services Center in a vacant building near the airport to aid migrants who are entering the country with a sponsor or a family already enlisted to support them.
“This Center will focus exclusively on facilitating self-pay travel needs of single adults who have a sponsor and resources to get to their destination quickly,” El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said in an emailed statement. “Arrivals will be subject to a brief orientation of the process and immediately tested for COVID. Self-pay travel arrangements will be coordinated immediately after COVID testing in a humane and safe way. Expediting their travel to the interior of the country will help decompress our hospitality sites and detention facilities.”
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By contrast, the city’s migrant center has been largely focused on moving large groups of migrants, most of whom arrive in the city with no money or support system, out of the area and into different cities across the country.
While the county’s facility will not provide shelter for the incoming migrants, El Paso County Commissioner David Stout said it will go a long way toward relieving the backlog at other area processing centers.
“The idea is to release some pressure within the detention centers the federal governments owns that are nearby,” Stout said. “Instead of having them taken to the Annunciation House or some of the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), we can take care of some of the processing right here.
“We’ll get them in and out as quickly as possible so they can be on their way and taken care of,” he added.
In addition to the $6.8 million contract with Providencia Group, which will manage operations at the center through November 2024, the county is paying $11,000 per month to lease the building on Lockheed Drive.
Stout said the money will be paid up front from the county’s Economic Development Fund, but it will “be fully reimbursed” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on a quarterly basis.
Samaniego said the center will “operate between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., (seven) days per week, 365 days per year with up to 20 staff per shift.”
The center is expected to be operational by mid-October.
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While Stout believes the new center will provide “a number of benefits,” both to migrants and those working to provide them support in the area, he noted that more might be required in the coming weeks and months.
“There may be more that we need to do, but that remains to be seen,” Stout said. “It may be that we need to dedicate more staff or less staff, depending on the fluctuations in migrants coming across. At this point, getting into the processing support is what is needed the most right now.”
Still, the county is already mulling further action, including providing additional shelter space for migrants by working with the city to set up a facility with 100 beds.
Stout said it is important that the migrants passing through El Paso be “given a warm welcome” and he applauded the hospitality that has so far been shown.
“I’m really proud of the Commissioners Court for stepping in to do this,” Stout said. “El Paso County and our community are really a gold standard in the way we treat people … with great compassion and great empathy. These are people who have been through a lot … things that are so terrible they’re willing to risk their lives to come to the United States. The least we can do is try to understand their plight and help them along their way.”

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