U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released approximately 1,000 migrants into downtown El Paso over the past three days.

ICE released the following statement Christmas Eve explaining why its actions were inevitable:

After decades of inaction by Congress, the government remains severely constrained in its ability to detain and promptly remove families with no legal basis to remain in the U.S. To mitigate the risk of holding family units past the timeframe allotted to the government, ICE has curtailed reviews of post-release plans from families apprehended along the southwest border. ICE continues to work with local and state officials and NGO partners in the area so they are prepared to provide assistance with transportation or other services.

Coming off his loss to Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who represents the city of El Paso in Congress until January 3, showed up to volunteer at a downtown staging area. The representative has asked ICE give 24-hour notice before mass migrant releases to give community shelters and non-profits time to prepare. (CBS 4)

ICE said in a statement earlier this week the mass release was to ensure families were not detained longer than the time frame permitted – families including “Ingrid” and her 4-year-old son. She tells CBS4 she was surprised by the help she received after being released.

“Never could I have imagined getting here and being welcomed with food. In fact he was crying that he was hungry. Honestly, it just feels unreal,” Ingrid said.

Ingrid is a Honduran asylum seeker. She agreed to an interview but we’re not using her last name.

Most migrants are from Honduras and Guatemala.

O’Rourke continues to lead efforts to take care of the hundreds of homeless migrants.

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