Authorities clean El Paso streets ahead of Biden visit, arrest migrants sleeping on sidewalks outside church shelter

The suggestion that President Joe Biden was finally facing the realities of the border crisis was squashed by reports of the dramatic preparations police and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents took ahead of his scheduled visit Sunday: “They’re trying to make it look like nothing’s wrong!”

(Video: NBC News)

For the nearly two years of his administration, Biden has downplayed the crisis at the southern border with high-ranking officials often parroting the claim that “the border is not open.” Now, as the president is expected to arrive in El Paso, Texas Sunday, it would seem law enforcement agencies spent the week prepping the city by arresting dozens, if not hundreds, of illegal aliens to clear the streets; even some sheltering outside a Catholic church.

Video captured outside Sacred Heart Church in El Paso Tuesday night showed CPB and police arresting somewhere between 100 and 150 illegals according to one shelter volunteer who spoke with NBC News.

One illegal was quoted as saying, “Cover us, Father! In the name of Jesus, sir. They are people, sir, who are looking for your salvation, sir. They come looking for a better future, sir. We respect the laws, sir … Father, you have the power to protect us.”

Law enforcement was also seen clearing encampments at the nearby bus station and, according to The New York Post, the makeshift shelters there and outside the church were dismantled by Saturday. Additionally, six buses of mostly Venezuelans, as well as pedestrians escorted by police, were seen crossing into Mexico.

“People are saying that if you are out in the streets the Border Patrol will get you and deport you because the president is coming to El Paso and they don’t want to show him the reality of things,” 23-year-old Venezuelan Maria Rodriguez told the Post after living in an El Paso Dumpster for three days. “I hope we get shelter tonight because it took us a lot of courage to go out of that dumpster after three days…We just don’t want to keep running. All we are asking is for one chance.”

https://twitter.com/stacey_wallen/status/1609919719649288197

Speaking with the Post, a Border Patrol agent looking to remain anonymous said at least 200 illegals had been sent back to Mexico on Saturday.

A spokesperson for the agency issued a statement justifying the actions and said, “CBP, which is responsible for securing the U.S. border between ports of entry, uses a layered approach that includes patrolling the border itself, nearby areas and neighborhoods, and conducting checkpoints–both stationary and temporary. In response to migrants evading apprehension in the El Paso area, the United States Border Patrol has increased the number of agents patrolling the area.”

However, the Border Patrol Union cut through the PR and called it as they saw it tweeting, “El Paso being cleaned up as if nothing unusual ever happened there. Just in time for Biden’s ‘visit to the border’. We suggest just landing in Des Moines, Iowa and telling him it’s El Paso. He’ll never know the difference.”

The optics weren’t the only problem according to National Immigration Law Center vice president of law and policy Lisa Graybill who suggested that the Biden administration’s haphazard attempt to cleanup El Paso was in and of itself a violation of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy.

As she told NBC News, “The cynic in me contemplates the possibility that this was a cleanup action intended to showcase El Paso in a particular light and the president’s enforcement actions in a particular light. I think the irony is that what you see in this video, what we’ve been told by our partners on the ground, that is in direct [contradiction] to the kind of reasoned and sensitive and law-abiding proposals that he made at the beginning of his administration about respecting areas like churches and organizations that are providing social services. So it’s a really painful contradiction.”

Accordingly, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who wouldn’t admit to CNN Friday that the record number of illegal border crossings into the U.S. in 2022 wasn’t a crisis, had issued a memo in October 2021 detailing that places of worship were included among locations where illegals should not be arrested.

“We need to consider the fact that an enforcement action taken near–and not necessarily in–the protected area can have the same restraining impact on an individual’s access to the protected area itself,” he wrote. “If indeed that would be the case, then, to the fullest extent possible, we should not take the enforcement action near the protected area.”

Lawmakers and politicians who’ve been sounding the alarm on Biden’s failures since day one called out the blatant hypocrisy, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) who posted Saturday afternoon, “Joe Biden’s heading to El Paso on Sunday. City sidewalks that have been transformed into makeshift homeless camps for illegal aliens have been cleared out before his visit. They’re trying to make it look like nothing’s wrong!”

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