LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Border Patrol agents dropped off asylum-seeking migrants in New Mexico’s second most populous city for the second day in a row Saturday, prompting Las Cruces city officials to appeal for donations of food and personal hygiene items and a state medical program to seek volunteers to provide health assessments of migrants.
The migrants were being temporarily housed at a homeless shelter in Las Cruces, a city recreation center and a campus of social service agencies, city officials said in a statement.
The statement said 83 migrants arrived Saturday, following about 95 who were dropped off by the Border Patrol on Friday at the Gospel Rescue Mission homeless shelter and the Community of Hope campus.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Las Cruces churches for months have been providing temporary shelter to migrants released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention but that Friday was the first time that the Border Patrol vans dropped off migrants at the homeless shelter.
City spokesman Udell Vigil said Saturday that migrants could be arriving “for the next several days.”
Some migrants were taken to Meerscheidt Recreation Center, which the statement said was closed to the public because of its use as temporary housing for migrants. The closing forced cancellation of a T-ball on-site registration event that was scheduled Saturday.
The statement said needed items included utensils, napkins, paper plates, sanitary napkins, shampoo, clothing, towels, blankets, canned food, bottled water, foam padding for bedding and stuffed toys.
The Border Patrol announced Thursday it would release migrants in southern New Mexico and in El Paso, Texas, pending their future court hearings because of Immigration and Customs “capacity issues.”
In another development, the state Department of Health in Santa Fe on Saturday appealed for health care professionals such as pediatricians, nurses and EMTs to join a state-run volunteer registry involved “in the humanitarian mission by providing medical screening support services to migrants in New Mexico.”
Bobbie MacKenzie, volunteer coordinator for the New Mexico Medical Reserve Corps , said the appeal made Saturday was aimed at augmenting the current ranks of volunteers so they don’t get burned out.
“We need more. This is going to be an ongoing event,” MacKenzie told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We’re trying to not to inundate and overwhelm the volunteers.”
Most of the current volunteers helping provide health assessments of migrants in Las Cruces are from that area but some are from as far away as Albuquerque, she said.
Albuquerque, New Mexico’s most populous city, is 192 miles north of Las Cruces.