The city is looking at using the Judson F. Williams Convention Center in Downtown to temporarily house some of the thousands of migrants expected to come into El Paso when Title 42 ends Wednesday, multiple sources who asked not to be identified told El Paso Matters on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-E Paso, didn’t confirm a location, but in a statement on Sunday said she coordinated a meeting with the American Red Cross and the city and county governments to stand up an emergency shelter operation in El Paso.

She said the operation would help the city and county “respond to the humanitarian challenges posed by the arrival of an unprecedented number of migrants at the border with Ciudad Juárez and help better prepare El Paso for the imminent repeal of Title 42.”

Escobar said the operation is intended to run through late January and could provide temporary shelter to as many as 10,000 migrants at a time. It was unclear Monday whether the 10,000 migrants would be sheltered at one location. 

The Judson F. Williams Convention Center, currently the site of a skating rink and other WinterFest activities, will be used to temporarily house thousands of migrants expected to cross into El Paso in coming days. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

The largest shelter site being considered appears to be the convention center, which is near the two Downtown bus stations used by migrants to arrange transportation elsewhere in the country. The convention center was used to temporarily house thousands of evacuees from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. 

City emergency officials have not yet identified the convention center as a shelter site, but multiple sources told El Paso Matters on Monday that an assessment is underway to prepare the site as a shelter to be managed by the American Red Cross. The sources asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

The plaza around the convention center currently hosts a skating rink and other activities that are part of the city’s WinterFest celebration. It’s not immediately clear if those activities will continue if the convention center is turned into a temporary migrant shelter.

Mayor Oscar Leeser on Saturday issued a disaster declaration to prepare for the thousands of migrants expected to be released to the streets when Title 42 is lifted on Wednesday. The public health policy had allowed border agents to immediately expel migrants who crossed the border illegally without an opportunity to seek asylum.

The disaster declaration allows the city to seek state help to mitigate the humanitarian crisis, including temporarily sheltering migrants in El Paso, arranging for transportation to other cities and providing law enforcement personnel. 

Hundreds of migrants who had been processed by border agents and allowed to remain in the United States to await their immigration hearings had been sleeping on the streets in Downtown the last few weeks as area shelters are overcrowded.

El Paso native Cindy Ramirez has spent most of her career in journalism, with some stints in public and media relations and military reporting. She's covered everything from education to local government...