Before the first words of President Trump’s prime time Oval Office address Tuesday night, border human rights advocates already had a rebuttal ready.
“What we have seen at the border over the past two years are the impacts and chaos caused by a cruel and racist President who has no respect for the rule of law,” Fernando Garcia with the Border Network for Human Rights said just moments after the Presidential Address was over.
The first Presidential prime time address was meant to convince Americans that the government shutdown, now in its 17th day, is needed in order to hold out for funding for a steel fence along the nation’s southern border.
Many immigration advocates at Tuesday night’s event at BNHR say the address did little to provide concrete evidence of a sincere crisis at our southern border.
“Why, even if there was something urgent at the border right now, why this administration would choose to respond with a wall that will take years or decades to build,” said Garcia.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who now has a massive online following, decided to take a direct approach to the assertion by President Trump that there is a national emergency at the border.
O’Rourke took to Facebook live to walk viewers around his Sunset Heights neighborhood, discuss the proximity of El Paso to Ciudad Juarez and our dependence on each other for economic and social prosperity. Former City Council member Steve Ortega and Joel Guzman, both fellow Sunset Heights residents joined in on the discussion.
Father Arturo Bañuelos with the Catholic Diocese argued that the lack of the President’s compassion for the true humanitarian crisis happening across the border was part of a larger problem.
“We need real, lasting, humane, and permanent solutions ro our immigration system that provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. and that builds a legal system that comforts with reality moving forward. With a President unable and unwilling to act, Congress must lead,” said Garcia.
During Christmas week, El Paso saw a massive surge of migrants being released by ICE from detention facilities, which sent organizations in the Sun City to scramble to house and feed the massive release of families.
On December 26, ICE released a record 522 migrants from detention in a single day. By Wednesday, January 9, all three of the emergency shelters that were opened by Annunciation House during Christmas to house the unexpected surge of migrants will be closed. The closures are representative of a return to ‘normal’ release numbers by ICE since New Year’s Day.
The overall flow of migrant families into the U.S. is still far more than it has been in recent memory according to Annunciation House Executive Director Ruben Garcia in a previous interview.
President Trump is expected to make a trip to McAllen on Thursday to survey the southern border for himself. While he has previously indicated he would consider declaring a national emergency in order to fund the construction of the Border Wall, he stopped short of any declaration on Tuesday during his address.
In a response via Twitter Tuesday night, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar said “Tonight’s speech offered nothing new, just another glimpse at a POTUS w/ no understanding of how to cope w/ challenges of changing migration patterns. When he goes to south TX on Thurs, he’ll do the usual photo ops w/ federal agents. Maybe he’ll wear cowboy boots and ride a horse.”
The El Paso Herald Post will continue to offer coverage of the proposed Border Wall and the Government Shutdown.
Watch Full Border Network for Human Rights Press Conference Below