On Tuesday morning, officials with Action El Paso – a coalition of concerned business and community leaders – launched a campaign to push back against U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) plan to open a processing center in El Paso.
In February, information was released about CBP’s plans for a processing center, when the General Services Administration (GSA) posted a bid request looking for a 250,000-square-foot facility to lease in western El Paso as early as April 15.
Despite CBP’s quick timeline of taking occupancy in June 2019 to open a processing center in El Paso, the community and business members have not been consulted by CBP or GSA about the facilities they are considering.
Officials with Action El Paso describe the facility as “warehouse-style.”
“We have all seen photos and videos of the conditions that children and families are subjected to within these warehouse style facilities,” said Jon Barela, Chief Executive Officer of The Borderplex Alliance, a member of Action El Paso. “The idea of having a facility that forces children to sleep on the floor or neglects families the basic things like access to separate bathrooms, showers or health services goes against the values that define El Paso and residents of the Borderplex region. If a processing center is to open in our community, it must be well-equipped and prioritize the humanity of migrants, and that requires careful planning and time.”
As part of the campaign, Action El Paso launched a petition demanding that before any facility is opened in El Paso, City leadership and the community must be consulted on the location of the processing center and specifically designed to ensure the humane treatment of migrants and the efficient processing of their asylum requests.
“At a time when our region is experiencing tremendous growth and economic development, we cannot allow for this new processing center to disrupt the momentum and positive economic energy in El Paso,” said David Jerome, President & CEO of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, a member of Action El Paso. “The proposed processing center should NOT be placed near our schools, businesses, and residential neighborhoods. El Paso city and federal representatives, along with the larger El Paso community, should be consulted to fully weigh the costs and negative impacts that it might create to our economic and civic well-being.”
Barela added, “The RFP is flawed and is unnecessarily limited in geographic scope. Locations throughout El Paso County and Southern New Mexico should be explored. I urge the GSA and CBP to reissue the RFP so that a more permanent and humane solution can be found, thus ensuring a competitive bidding process and prudent usage of taxpayer money.”
Action El Paso members want to ensure that the new migrant processing center in El Paso serves as the prototype for how to efficiently process asylum seekers and migrants, and offers a real long-term solution for the influx of migrants arriving at our borders. Action El Paso is requesting a meeting with CBP and GSA to make their demands clear.
To learn more about this campaign and the petition that the campaign is circulating click here.