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Tag Archives: border crisis

Trump’s emergency declaration could mean Texas’ military installations lose millions for future projects

Texas’ largest military bases could lose tens of millions of dollars already earmarked for future projects if President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a border barrier withstands legal challenges and the administration diverts money from the military for wall construction.

The bases include U.S. Army and Air Force installations at Joint Base San Antonio, Army installations at Fort Bliss in El Paso and Fort Hood in Killeen, and the Naval Reserve center in Galveston, according to the office of U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.

In all, about $265 million for construction and other projects on military bases in Texas could be diverted to build walls on the southern border, according to a list of potential projects the Department of Defense released to lawmakers Monday.

The president signed his emergency declaration after a five-week government shutdown spurred when Congress refused to approve $5.7 billion that Trump requested for border barriers. The president issued a national emergency declaration last month that would divert billions in defense spending to construct the barriers. The U.S. House and Senate voted recently to oppose the declaration, but the president vetoed the measure.

“After failing to convince the Government of Mexico or U.S. Congress to pay for his ineffective wall, the President is trying to bypass constitutional authority and undermine the training, readiness, and quality of life of our military and their families in Texas,” Cuellar said in a written statement.

Joint Base San Antonio could lose about $10 million for an air traffic control tower, $10 million for an aerospace operations facility, $38 million for a military training classroom and dining hall, and more than $13 million for a vehicle maintenance shop. Fort Bliss could lose $20 million for defense access roads, more than $8 million for a blood processing center and $24 million for supply support.

At least seven lawsuits have been filed to halt any wall construction under the emergency declaration, including litigation filed by El Paso County and the Laredo-based Rio Grande International Study Center.

“It’s clear that @realDonaldTrump’s political stunt only hurts our troops and endangers our national security. This must end!” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D- El Paso, tweeted Monday after learning about the potential cuts.

It’s not clear which projects will be chosen or when that decision will be made. The Department of Defense noted that construction projects already awarded and other projects awarded during the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, won’t be affected. If money for a border wall is included in the next federal budget, none of the projects listed will be affected, the fact sheet states.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Cuellar’s statements.

Author: JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

Ted Cruz, John Cornyn vote against Joaquin Castro’s resolution blocking Trump’s emergency order

WASHINGTON — Backing a resolution spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to block President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border.

Several Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in support of the measure, but Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas both voted against the resolution —which Trump has vowed to veto. On Wednesday night, Cruz joined a pair of his colleagues and went to the White House to try to work out a deal with the president, The Washington Post reported. But Trump reiterated his plans for a veto Thursday.

“When your negotiating partners refuse to take a seat at the table, normal goes out the window,” Cornyn said during Thursday’s floor debate. “Our colleagues across the aisle left the president with few options to fund what he believed were so important for the nation’s security, and that’s what led us to this situation.”

In an op-ed in USA Today, a group of attorneys general, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxtonargued why they believe the emergency declaration is constitutional. That position is counter to the American Civil Liberties Union and 20 other state attorneys general — including those from border states California and New Mexico — who are challenging the declaration.

Last month, Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying billions of dollars in additional funding was needed to build more barriers. After that declaration, the Democratic-led House endorsed Castro’s resolution in a vote primarily split along party lines. The sole Texas Republican member of the House to vote for the resolution was Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, who has repeatedly denounced a border wall as the “most expensive and least effective” way to handle border security. His district includes more of the Mexican border than any other district. In authoring the legislation, Castro said it was needed as a safeguard for the separation of powers among the branches of the federal government. As senators debated the resolution Thursday, Castro watched from the back of the upper chamber.

After the Senate’s vote, Castro faulted Cornyn and Cruz. “This was not an emergency,” he said. “The senators have not been listening to the people or the elected officials who live on the border. They’ve been ignoring them for a long time.”

In a statement, Cruz said the vote was difficult and that he shared his colleagues’ concerns about the emergency powers that Congress has given the president over the last half-century. But he said that the vote was ultimately about addressing a crisis at the border.

“We cannot end this emergency without securing our southern border, and we cannot secure our border without building a wall,” Cruz said.

Although Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky couldn’t stop Thursday’s floor vote on the resolution because it was designated as a privileged measure.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author  GABE SCHNEIDER – The Texas Tribune

Video+Info: Diocese of El Paso calls for Volunteers, Donations to Migrant Center

On Tuesday, the Catholic Diocese sent out a call for volunteers and donations for the Diocesan Migrant Center located at the Diocese of El Paso’s Catholic Pastoral Center.

The migrant center is currently seeing between 80-100 migrant refugees daily. Once refugees arrive at the facility, they are given a change of clothes, the ability to shower, 3 meals a day, and a care package of snacks and necessary needs for travel to their destination.

Volunteers assist in the caring for the migrant refugees on site and with rides to the airport or the bus station. The diocese is also looking for volunteers to assist in providing meals to refugees.

Volunteers can send name, number and times available to volunteer to plopez@elpasodiocese.org or call the Office of the Chancery at 915-872-8407.

In addition to the need for on site volunteers, the diocese is also in need of donations.

Goods Needed for Donation

FOOD ITEMS Bottled Water Drinks (that are easy to distribute)-Capri Sun, Juice box Granola Bar Fruit Cereal and Milk Small packaged snacks (Cookies, crackers, trail mix, chips) Sliced bread Peanut Butter and Jelly Instant Tea or Lemonade Mix

KITCHEN ITEMS 8 oz. cups Forks Knives Spoons 9 inch plates Small bowls Napkins Large roll aluminum Foil Sandwich size Ziploc bags Quarter gallon Ziploc bags One gallon Ziploc bags

TOILETRY SUPPLIES Travel Size Toiletries (Shampoo, Soap, Deodorant, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Moisturizing Cream, Disposable razors, Combs and hair brush)  Toilet paper Feminine Hygiene Baby diapers (all sizes)

MISCELLANEOUS Car Seats Linen (Twin sheets, pillows, pillow cases and blankets) Towels

CLOTHING Brand new Underwear, for Men, Women and Children (Mostly small and medium size needed) Brand New pairs of socks, for Men, Women and Children Tennis Shoes (from 2-year-old to adults) Jeans (Denim) for Men, Women and Children Blouses Shirts for Men Coats Sweaters Gloves Beanies

Cleaning Supplies Clorox Wipes Clorox Pinesol Dish Soap Laundry Detergent Fabuloso or floor cleaner Lyson Spray Gloves for Handling Food

Op-Ed: Hurd on the Hill: We must secure our Southern border

I have devoted the entirety of my adult life to keeping Americans safe. For nearly a decade, I served as an undercover officer in the CIA during the Global War on Terror.

My job was to stop bad people from doing bad things in our homeland.

Since being in Congress, I’ve made border security one of my top priorities. In fact, the very first bill I had signed into law prevented significant pay cuts for our Border Patrol Agents. I have also fought to increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency responsible for protecting our borders.

Over the last four years, I’ve voted for $220 billion in funding to help provide more resources to the Department. Through my work, the House has passed funding for a diverse arsenal of tools to protect the southern border such as:

  • $8 billion for border infrastructure, which includes physical barriers and associated technology;
  • $18.7 billion for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement personnel;
  • $1 billion in improvements at our Ports of Entry; and,
  • $270 million in the last 2 years for the use of technology to detect border crossings.

What is happening at our border is a significant problem – 400,000 people attempted to come into our country illegally last year and over $67 billion worth of illegal drugs flowed into our communities. It’s 2019 and we still don’t have operational control of our border. When I say operational control I mean we should know everything that is coming back and forth across our border. We haven’t been able to achieve this ability because we haven’t been pursuing a strategy of focusing on all 2,000 miles of our border at the same time. We currently have 654 miles of physical barriers and Congress has funded the construction of 88 more miles.

Even the President emphasized that “We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shining sea.” Because every mile of our border is different, requiring a different approach that accounts for the unique geographic, cultural and technological conditions along our border.

We need to be using all of our available resources, including: physical barriers in densely-populated areas, technology so we can track threats until the brave men and women of border patrol can conduct an arrest, and we need more men and women in Border Patrol.

As your Representative, and the Representative of over 820 miles of our U.S.-Mexico border, I have consistently supported bills and worked with my colleagues and folks back home to develop initiatives that keep you safe.

Border Security is critical to our national security, and I will continue to do everything in my power to protect the safety of communities in South and West Texas.

###

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, and the House Committee on Appropriations, where he serves on the Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development

Video: Cornyn – Latest Border Data Confirms a Crisis

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) delivered remarks on Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) response to human trafficking and illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video can be found above.

“We know that CBP is facing unprecedented challenges today, and I applaud your efforts as well as the men and women who work with you who are on the front lines of this challenge on a daily basis.”

“We see hashtags that call what the president and others have described as a ‘fake emergency’ at the border. But in order to believe that there’s a fake emergency at the border, you have to be blind to the facts or simply unwilling to listen.”

“I feel particularly strongly about this topic because of where I live and the state I represent. We have 1,200 miles of common border with Mexico.”

“As you know, Mr. Commissioner, CBP announced that more than 76,000 people crossed the border in February alone. 76,000 in one month. This is the largest monthly total in more than a decade.”

“Compared to this time last year, family unit apprehensions have increased 209 percent in the Rio Grande Valley sector. Family unit apprehensions have increased 497 percent in the Del Rio sector. And most staggering, in the El Paso sector, overall apprehensions have increased 434 percent while family unit apprehensions have increased an incredible 1,639 percent.”

“This is not a crisis, people say?”

“I hear absolutely no suggestions from our Democratic friends on how to deal with the causes of these problems.”

 ***

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.

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As El Paso region sees surge in migrant crossings, nonprofit groups’ support services feel the strain

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. — The statue of Mount Cristo Rey standing over this small border community is the site of an annual pilgrimage near the Texas-New Mexico state lines, where tens of thousands gather each October to celebrate their Catholic faith and honor the sacrifices it demands.

This month, however, the site bore witness to a different type of mission, one that immigrant rights groups say is borne out of necessity and desperation.

On Feb. 11, U.S. Border Patrol agents in the El Paso sector apprehended 311 undocumented migrants near the site of the famed statue. That same day, more than 330 people were apprehended in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. And on Tuesday, Border Patrol agents came across 180 migrants in Sunland Park, adding to the number of large groups that sector agents have encountered this fiscal year, when such figures are tallied.

Through Wednesday, Border Patrol agents in the El Paso sector have encountered at least 29 groups of migrants of 100 or more people.

As the number of families apprehended skyrockets, nonprofit and faith-based groups are scrambling to ensure that migrants seeking asylum aren’t let out onto the streets without shelter.

“We’re doing everything we can with all of our shelter network, with the Diocese of El Paso,” said Marissa Limón, the deputy director of the Hope Border Institute, a faith-based community organization in the El Paso, Las Cruces and Ciudad Juárez area. “There are several shelters operating in churches but also through the diocese itself, and they are almost at capacity right now.”

The surge of migrants illegally crossing into Texas has continued even as the Trump administration has tried to crack down on asylum-seekers. The administration and Republican hardliners say the latest surges are the result of an immigration system that is easily exploited by migrants and smugglers. But some analysts think it’s the administration’s policies that are fueling the latest influx, and they say it’s unclear when the numbers will begin to fall.

From Oct. 1, when the federal government’s 2019 fiscal year began, through January, more than 25,700 family units were apprehended in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, which also includes New Mexico. That’s compared with the 1,523 familiesBorder Patrol encountered during the same time frame last fiscal year, an increase of about 1,600 percent. In the Rio Grande Valley sector, which has been the nation’s busiest, about 43,600 families were apprehended. That’s a 180 percent increase from last fiscal year’s 15,570 during the same time frame.

Although the El Paso sector has always been busy, the latest surge could result from the Trump administration’s policy of stationing Customs and Border Patrol agents on international bridges to turn back potential asylum-seekers. CBP officers have said the move, known as metering, is necessary because the agency has limited space to house asylum-seekers while they wait for their claims to be processed.

“Part of the [surge] is a confluence of factors,” said Jessica Bolter, a researcher with the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. “Smugglers do learn quickly about the most effective routes to bring people into the country, and metering itself is likely to cause increased illegal crossings and also to cause people to go to remote ports of entry.”

In a statement about the Feb. 11 apprehensions near Antelope Wells, a CBP press officer said the smuggling of large groups could be a diversionary tactic.

“In many instances, criminal organizations are saturating areas with large groups with the belief that they can smuggle narcotics or other contraband into the United States while Border Patrol agents are occupied,” the statement asserts. “The U.S. Border Patrol will continue to enforce the rule of law.”

The Trump administration also attempted, through an executive order, to bar asylum for undocumented immigrants who cross in between the ports of entry. A federal judge has since blocked that effort, which Bolter said isn’t lost on smuggling networks.

“It drives the idea that you have to cross while you can before another restrictive policy might be issued,” she said.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

Op-Ed: White Girl in a Brown City

I grew up in El Paso, was born here. As a teenager, I used to walk the streets with my friends at all hours of the night. And sometimes, I walked alone.

I was never afraid, even in a time when gangs were fairly prevalent here, I walked without fear. And though we had gangs at the school, I was never worried about violence.

I went to a high school on the northeast side of town where the pregnancy rate was the 4th highest in the state, yet I didn’t have my first child until I was in my 20s.

The biggest problem I faced was that of not being bilingual. I like to think I’m pretty smart, and while it’s true that I can speak some Spanish, I never fully embraced learning it on a conversational level. This has kept me from getting certain jobs.

You see, El Paso borders Mexico. In fact, the El Paso/Juarez area is one of the biggest border communities in the country, if not the world. Many people come across the border daily to shop at the stores, eat at the restaurants, and go to school.

This influx of people is critical to our economy.

They come legally, and our international bridges are not something you want to cross if you are in a hurry. So many come over that it can take hours to get across. Likewise, people from here go to Mexico to shop at the stores, eat at the restaurants, and even take up less expensive residence. It’s truly a beautiful partnership.

So, I was never bitter about losing out on jobs due to my lack of conversational Spanish speaking ability. I understood the need to communicate with those that visited our city, even though I occasionally receive dirty looks by those that do not speak English. But the dirty looks are the worst thing I’ve ever had to endure.

Our city is more than just English/Spanish, or people from across the border coming over; it’s a diverse community. We house one of the largest military bases in the country, as well: Fort Bliss. Men and women in the service come from all over the country. They bring their families, many of whom are not from America.

Our city has Korean communities, German communities, as well as a Native American community. But I never learned to speak any of those languages, either.

At no point, have I ever felt as though any other culture was infringing on my ability to gain employment (they are NOT taking my jobs away), nor have I felt as though any of them were terrorists, or rapists bringing drugs and crime.

In fact, I’ve always felt at home here because, though I look like a white girl on the outside, my inside is just as diverse as this city I call home.

But I’m glad the title brought you into my fold…if that’s what got you reading this in the first place.

The only place I ever felt targeted for my race was when I was unfortunate enough to visit Kentucky. For some reason, even with my very pale complexion and red hair, I was followed while shopping at a convenience store.

As my discomfort grew, I left, hearing the cashier say as I walked out: “Good riddance, ya dirty Mexican!”

Now, as I watch the news, a thing I do more and more often the older I get, I have to wonder where the current administration is getting their “facts” from. I still live in the same city, on the same side of town and yet I see no crisis along the border.

Keep in mind that when I step outside my house, I can see two countries and three states. But no droves of illegals are anywhere in sight. There is literally no crisis.

Well, save for one.

Just before Christmas, immigration agents took migrants that passed background checks and were awaiting asylum, dropping them off at the bus depot downtown. They were left there, en mass, with little or no money, and only the clothes on their backs or in their packs.

And perhaps some of you think this is what they deserve for coming over here and entering our country: nothing…but our city disagrees.

We have been working together, this diverse and beautiful community, to ensure that these discarded people have food, shelter, and warm clothing.  We handled the ‘crisis.’ And life is back to normal.

We keep them safe, just as our city has always been…safe. In fact, El Paso has ranked among the top ten safest cities in the country for so many years, I’ve lost count.

And despite what the President would have you believe, I can still go out and walk the streets at all hours of the night without fear.

Border Patrol Holding Centers Allegedly ‘Overcrowded; Filled With Seriously Ill Migrants’

As United States Government entered day 21 of the shutdown, the impact continues to ripple through the government and the country.

The effects of the current shutdown are felt far and wide; 800,000 federal workings not receive paychecks Friday is the most glaring example of what is happening.

There is, however, one aspect of this shutdown that is not being seen by the general public or spoken about: migrants and asylum seekers who are in custody of Border Patrol.

On Friday, sources provided me with information about what is happening with individuals who are in custody during this shutdown. What I was told turned my stomach.

“A 30-40-person cell is now holding up to 150 plus individuals,” said confidential sources who work with Border Patrol. “We have some larger ones, and they got people sleeping on top of each other, and all we do is pack more in. We can’t hardly move a body with the stupid shutdown.”

But that’s not the only issue. Allegedly there are serious health issues as well.

“And there are people that are sick and should see doctors outside of here,” said a Border Patrol agent. “But, yeah, we got chicken pox, two that might have mesilles [sic]. Some have MRSA.”

There have been similar posts on several social media pages, all unconfirmed, but all similar in description and urgency.

To verify this information, beyond the agents I’ve spoken with and screenshots that were sent to me, I contacted Agent Joe Romero, one of the media affairs officers for Border Patrol. That’s when another unfortunate side effect of the government shutdown reared it’s head.

When I spoke to Agent Romero, I told him that I had individuals telling me about the overcrowding and health situations.

“Here’s the problem,” said Agent Romero, “right now, while we are on the furlough, we can’t address media or questions. That’s part of the issue with the furlough, is that our media department is basically kind of shut down.”

Agent Romero did ask that I send him an e-mail, so he could see if someone up the chain of command would be able to respond to our questions and information. That email was sent Friday evening; as of publication, we were still awaiting a response.

***

As this is a developing story, the details will be updated as information arrives.

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