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Home | Tag Archives: border crisis

Tag Archives: border crisis

Cornyn chairs hearing to discuss crisis at Southern Border

WASHINGTON – As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) held a hearing to highlight the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border and his new legislation, the HUMANE Act, to address it.

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

“The situation unfolding on our southern border is grim. A major increase in unlawful border crossings combined with a drastic shift in migration trends and outdated laws and infrastructure has placed an incredibly great strain on law enforcement, on our legal system, and local border communities.”

“Yet, there are those who still here in Washington choose to ignore the gravity of the situation, or worse, to label it as fake or manufactured.”

“While some may think that the situation is manageable and that time is on our side, I think they’re ignoring reality and I disagree. And I know many of my constituents in Texas feel the same. We’re on the front lines of this, and we’re simply not set up, manned, nor do we have the capacity to absorb this huge wave of human migration coming in all at one time.”

“In response to this worsening situation, last week I, along with my colleague from Laredo, Texas, Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, introduced the HUMANE Act. The HUMANE Act is, as you can see, a bipartisan, bicameral solution to make the practical necessary reforms to address the loopholes in our laws, ensure that families stay together, and better protect unaccompanied children released from HHS custody. We also adopt several recommendations from the bipartisan DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council, including the establishment of regional processing centers along the border and needed streamlining of processing claims.”

“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with us to try to solve this problem. We need to quit looking at this through a political lens or wait to try to solve what else is broken and needs to be fixed in our immigration system.”

***

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

Cornyn Urges Acting DHS Secretary to Prioritize Efficiency of Trade, Travel at Texas Ports of Entry

WASHINGTON— On Wednesday U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan urging him to prioritize efficiency at Texas’ ports of entry as he develops a strategy to address the humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border:

“The diversion of frontline CBP personnel from these ports, and the threat of a possible closure in the future, threatens to have a debilitating impact on the overall health of Texas’ economy,” Sen. Cornyn wrote.

“Some Texas ports of entry have reported cross-border wait times in excess of seven hours, resulting in lost revenue and perished goods. In the coming days, many individuals on both the U.S. and Mexican sides of the border will begin to celebrate the Semana Santa holiday, a time of historically increased travel which will result in further strains and likely increased wait times at our most active land border crossings.

“As you develop a long-term strategy to deal with the concerning trends on our southern border, I ask that you strongly consider all available options at your disposal to ensure that Texas’ ports of entries may operate as efficiently as possible. The legitimate trade and travel coming through those arteries not only impacts the economies of both Texas’ border region and state, but also the flow of goods throughout the entire nation.”

***

Full text of the letter is below.

***

April 10, 2019

The Honorable Kevin McAleenan

Acting Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20229

 

Dear Acting Secretary McAleenan:

I am writing to you today to express my deep concern regarding the ongoing humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border. I share your desire to secure our nation’s border and stem the flow of illegal immigration, while also ensuring the free flow of legitimate trade and commerce.

In response to the current situation on our southern border, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) circulated a memorandum on April 1, 2019, outlining a new operation to address the ongoing crisis. This memorandum directed the temporary reassignment of personnel and resources from across Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) organization (many of which were assigned to southern land ports of entry) to process arriving immigrants and asylum seekers. Many of these officers, who had been working tirelessly to process perishable goods and travelers, have now been faced with managing a national migrant crisis. I strongly agree the current trends at our southern border are unsustainable and I recognize the severe strain this increase in apprehensions and asylum claims has put on our men and women in uniform. While I support CBP’s unwavering effort to effectively meet its mandate, I am gravely concerned about the consequences that the recently announced diversion of resources is having on our nation’s ports of entry.

As you know, the State of Texas is home to 29 air, land, and sea ports of entry – more than any other state in the nation. Many of these ports of entry, particularly those on our shared border with Mexico, are some of the busiest ports in terms passenger and vehicle processing volume in the United States. The diversion of frontline CBP personnel from these ports, and the threat of a possible closure in the future, threatens to have a debilitating impact on the overall health of Texas’ economy. Some Texas ports of entry have reported cross-border wait times in excess of seven hours, resulting in lost revenue and perished goods. In the coming days, many individuals on both the U.S. and Mexican sides of the border will begin to celebrate the Semana Santa holiday, a time of historically increased travel which will result in further strains and likely increased wait times at our most active land border crossings.

As you develop a long-term strategy to deal with the concerning trends on our southern border, I ask that you strongly consider all available options at your disposal to ensure that Texas’ ports of entries may operate as efficiently as possible. The legitimate trade and travel coming through those arteries not only impacts the economies of both Texas’ border region and state, but also the flow of goods throughout the entire nation.

Thank you for your continued service to our nation. I look forward to working with you moving forward to address the problems that our CBP personnel continue to face on a daily basis.

Sincerely,

/s/

 

15th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium to focus on Migrants

‘Justice for Migrants’ is the theme of the 2019 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium April 11-12 at New Mexico State University.

The symposium will feature panels of experts tackling the subjects dominating national news about the treatment of migrants on our southern border. The event is free and open to the public.

“The goal of this symposium is to reflect on the philosophical values, public narratives and community organizing that go in to the defense and promotion of human rights of immigrants, residents of border communities, DREAMers, asylum seekers and all migrants in Mexico and the US,” said Neil Harvey, NMSU professor and department head of government. “The symposium brings together university researchers, community-based advocates, reporters and students to share their own philosophical perspectives and experiences regarding the promotion of justice for migrants.”

Named for a respected state representative and educator, the J. Paul Taylor Symposium started in 2005 when Taylor suggested strategies for bringing resources of the university to address problems faced by underserved populations in the southwest.

This year’s symposium will be hosted by NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Vice President for Research, Department of Philosophy and Department of Government with generous support from the Guadalupe Institute.

The ‘Justice for Migrants’ event begins with a panel discussion from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at Gardiner Hall, Room 230. Panelists include NMSU professors Harvey and Lori Keleher, philosophy professor as well as David Holtby from the Guadalupe Institute in Albuquerque, Camilo Perez Bustillo from the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Blanca Adriana Ontiveros from the New Mexico Dream Team and Nancy Oretskin from the Southwest Asylum and Migration Institute.

The annual Social Justice Awards reception and keynote address will follow from 6-8 p.m. with remarks from NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli, Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Luis Cifuentes, Honorable J. Paul Taylor and President of the Guadalupe Institute Michael Keleher.

Harvey will present the Department of Government Social Justice Award to Adrian Aguirre, a local artist and NMSU alumnus, who created a series of portraits of migrant workers he spent a year with called ‘Jornaleros’ meant to help people relate to the migrant experience.

Aguirre, who is a program manager in NMSU’s Innovative Media Research and Extension department, more recently spent time at the border with asylum-seekers creating portraits that address their struggles.

He is in the process of creating a program to teach art making practices to those awaiting asylum at the ports of entry to help them document their experiences and as a way to heal.

For more about his artwork, visit this website.

Audrey Hardman Hartley will present the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Community Award to Ruben Garcia, executive director of

Ruben Garcia, executive director of Annunciation House, will be honored with the Social Justice Community Award at the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium, which takes place April 11-12

Annunciation House. Garcia and his dedicated staff and volunteers have worked to serve the people of El Paso and Juarez to find shelter, food and refuge including the increasing number of refugees which have more recently filled Annunciation House’s shelters.

“His commitment to serving refugees, asylum seekers and the most helpless of the poor over the past 40 years is unmatched. Serving the poor comes with a lengthy set of challenges, but Ruben’s commitment has never wavered,” wrote community activist Rose Lucero about Garcia’s in her nomination letter.

“Whether its eight in a given day that may show up at the door step of Annunciation House or 800 that are transported by bus from ICE or Border Patrol, Ruben wants to make sure that each man, woman and child be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. In a situation that seems nearly impossible Ruben Garcia always finds a way to make sure that the most voiceless have a voice and that every person knows that they matter and that they are loved.”

Rocio Melendez Dominguez, attorney for Derechos Humanos Integrales en Accion (Seeking Justice for Deported Migrants and Asylum Seekers) in Ciudad Juarez, will be the keynote speaker.

Day two of the symposium begins from 9-11 a.m. Friday, April 12 in Gardner Hall, Room 230 with a panel discussion about community perspectives from the border.

The panel will include Jeremy Slack, University of Texas at El Paso sociology and anthropology professor, Debbie Nathan, a nationally-known journalist, Fernando Garcia, founder and executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, Johana Bencomo, director of community organizing for New Mexico Communidades en Accion y de Fe also known as NM CAFe, Jorge Rodriguez, Regional Center for Border Rights, American Civil Liberties Union – New Mexico and Deacon Leonel Briseño, Project Oak Tree, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.

A student poster presentation will be on display at Gardner immediately following the panel from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. followed by a summary and closing discussion at the Nason House, Center for Latin American and Border Studies at 1070 University Ave. A summary of main points and roundtable discussion on next steps will wrap up the symposium with food and refreshments provided.

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

Texas Republicans warn Trump about ramifications of closing U.S.-Mexico border

As President Donald Trump threatens to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, some of the highest-ranking Texans from within his own party are warning about the consequences of doing so.

“Closing the border to legal commerce would be devastating to Texas,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Millions of jobs, in Texas and across the country, depend upon trade with Mexico, and the federal government shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize those jobs.”

Trump recently threatened to close the border — or large sections of it — this week if Mexico didn’t “immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States.” While Trump has since eased up on the threat, it was enough to set off alarms in Texas, particularly in the business community.

The Texas Association of Business said Monday that one in five jobs in the state is dependent upon trade and that “no group stands to lose more than Texans in communities” along the border such as El Paso and Laredo. The business group pressed state leaders to speak out — and it was clear by Wednesday evening that some of them had gotten the message.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken with Trump on the phone about the issue.

“I told him that I understand his frustration, but I also believe shutting down the border would have a lot of unintended consequences,” Cornyn said. He added that he “asked the president to let me work with this administration to come up with more targeted ways to encourage Mexico and Central America to work more cooperatively with us.”

Asked what Trump’s reaction was, Cornyn said the president was “responsive” and told the senator to talk with Cabinet members.

Even Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — Trump’s biggest cheerleader in Texas, particularly when it comes to his immigration policies — made clear he opposed a border closure. The Texas Senate, which Patrick presides over, passed a resolution Tuesday along party lines that declared an emergency at the border.

“I’m not for shutting the entire border,” Patrick said in an interview Wednesday morning with Fox News Radio. “The commerce would dramatically impact Texas, America and Mexico. I’d like to see the commercial lanes flow.”

Still, like other Republicans, Patrick sympathized with Trump’s frustrations — and offered one solution.

“Maybe he needs to send a message and close one port, one entry point,” Patrick said.

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Author:  PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Op-Ed: Cornyn – Humanitarian Crisis at the Border Needs Compromise, Not Politics

WASHINGTON – Tuesday on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) urged his colleagues to work together to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border.

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

“My state has 1,200 miles of common border with Mexico, so obviously this is very personal to me and my constituents who live and work along the border.”

“Ours is a compassionate country. We are a nation of immigrants. Everybody – almost everybody – came from somewhere else at some point in their family history. But the only way we are going to be able to maintain that compassion and that generosity when it comes to immigration is by bringing some order out of chaos.”

“If we want to have any sort of impact on the massive numbers of people crossing our border, which will only grow, we have to look not just at the problem but at the root cause.”

“I would urge all of our colleagues on the other side to stop viewing this through a purely political lens. This is not a question of Trump wins, you lose.”

“I’m afraid that defines a lot of our politics here in Washington today. But that’s a terrible mistake.”

“We need to view this together as the humanitarian crisis it is – President Obama called it that – and view it as a problem that will only continue to grow without our intervention, which it is. We need to view it as an urgent issue that requires our cooperation and, yes, our compromise.”

Federal government to accelerate Customs and Border Protection redeployment amid migrant surge

President Donald Trump’s administration said Monday it will begin returning more migrants to Mexico after they apply for asylum in the U.S. and ordered Customs and Border Protection officials to speed up the redeployment of agents to help the Border Patrol process a growing surge of migrants arriving at the border.

Last week, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said 750 CBP agents would be pulled from their regular positions at the ports of entry in El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego to assist Border Patrol. On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen told CBP to accelerate the reallocation and consider reassigning more officers.

“CBP is directed to explore raising that target, is authorized to exceed it, and shall notify the Secretary if reassignments are planned to exceed 2,000 personnel,” the DHS said in a news release.

The announcement is in response to a surge of mostly Central American families and unaccompanied minors crossing the border and seeking asylum. From Oct. 1, when the federal government’s current fiscal year began, through February, about 136,150 family units were apprehended on the southwest border — an increase of about 340% from the same period in fiscal year 2018, when about 31,100 families were apprehended, according to CBP statistics. The largest increase occurred in the El Paso sector, where about 36,300 family units were apprehended — a 1,689% increase from the same period last year, when 2,030 were apprehended.

Nielsen also ordered CBP officials to expand the Migrant Protection Protocols program that began in El Paso last month. Under the program, asylum seekers are required to wait on the other side of the Rio Grande until they are granted hearings before a U.S. immigration judge.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, told reporters that six people had been returned to Mexico under the program Friday. Nielsen has instructed Customs and Border Protection to try to return “hundreds of additional migrants per day.”

“The crisis at our border is worsening, and DHS will do everything in its power to end it,” Nielsen said in a statement.

The move comes after the El Paso sector of the U.S. Border Patrol shuttered a temporary holding facility it erected last month under the Paso Del Norte bridge in downtown El Paso, where hundreds of migrants were held behind razor wire and chain-link fencing and slept in a military-style tent as they waited to be processed. It’s unclear whether the facility will reopen.

Nielsen’s directive comes as the president continues to threaten to close the southern border in retaliation for what he says is Mexico’s unwillingness to stem the flow of migrants traveling through that country. He also announced over the weekend he plans to cut off U.S. aid to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala unless they take steps to keep their citizens from migrating to the U.S.

The Texas Border Coalition, a group of mayors, county judges and economic development officials from the region, said closing the ports of entry at the border would create an economic crisis.

“President Trump’s threat to close the border would be catastrophic and immediate, not just for border communities but also for the nation as a whole,” said TBC Chairman and Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz. “Closing the border would cause an immediate depression in border state communities and, depending on the duration, a recession in the rest of the country.”

 

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

Trump White House doubles down on threat to close U.S.-Mexico border

It would take “something dramatic” in the coming days to persuade President Trump not to close the U.S.-Mexico border, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the president’s threat “certainly isn’t a bluff.”

The two senior staffers, appearing separately on Sunday morning talk shows, also reiterated the administration’s intention to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance — including programs designed to curb gang violence — to the “Northern Triangle” countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Those countries are the primary source of tens of thousands of migrants, including caravans of families with children, who have been presenting themselves at ports of entry and asking for political asylum in an escalating humanitarian crisis at the border.

“Democrats didn’t believe us a month ago, two months ago when we said what was happening at the border was a crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis,” Mulvaney said on ABC News’s “This Week.” He said the administration is talking about closing the border because “we need the people from the ports of entry to go out and patrol in the desert, where we don’t have any wall.”

He also called on the Mexican government to solidify its southern border and said Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador need to do more to prevent their citizens from entering Mexico. If they cannot do that, he said, “it makes very little sense for us to continue to send them aid.”

Conway, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” pushed back against the notion that cutting aid to those countries would make matters worse. “The conditions are already awful,” she said. “The executive branch has done so much to try to mitigate these awful circumstances, and we need to send a message back to these countries, too.”

Closing the border is a drastic measure that would have immediate consequences not only for families seeking asylum but also for trade and commerce between the United States and Mexico. Mexico is the third-largest trading partner of the United States, with more than $611 billion in cross-border trade last year, according to the Commerce Department. At the port of Calexico East, Calif., more than 1,000 trucks cross the border each day. Laredo, Tex., sees more than 11 trains each day transit the border, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

If the border closure applied to goods and vehicles as well as people, the economic consequences would be immediate and severe, with automakers and American farmers among the first to feel the pain, according to trade specialists.

“It’s unworkable and unrealistic, and I don’t think he could really do it,” Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents multinational corporations, said Sunday.

Suddenly closing the flow of people and goods between the United States and Mexico would interrupt the flow of parts headed to American factories, which could bring some production to a halt. Likewise, refrigerated trucks full of beef and other perishable commodities would jam border crossings.

“The first question would be: Where do you put it?” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official. “Stuff is going to stack up at the border because it’s already on the way there.”

To deal with “an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border,” the agency said it had redeployed 750 border agents.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), appearing on NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” said, “When the president says he’s going to close the border, that is a totally unrealistic boast on his part. What we need to do is focus on what’s happening in Central America.”

Durbin said the government needs to prioritize the humanitarian crisis unfolding along the U.S.-Mexico border:

“The first thing we need to do is meet the humanitarian needs at the border instead of building fences two or three years in the future by taking money from Department of Defense, focus on facilities to serve these families so that there aren’t children who are hurt and dying as a result of this situation.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate, said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that there is a “terrible humanitarian crisis” at the border and that the United States needs comprehensive immigration reform. He added, “We need to make sure that our borders are secure, but also we need a humane policy at the border in which we are not yanking tiny children from the arms of their mothers.”

Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to implore Mexico to “stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA.” He wrote: “Our detention areas are maxed out & we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the Border! This will also help us with stopping the Drug flow from Mexico!”

The president told reporters on Friday, “If they don’t stop them, we are closing the border. We’ll close it. And we’ll keep it closed for a long time. I’m not playing games.”

Under U.S. law, people who reach the U.S. border are entitled to request asylum. But in recent months, the number of arrivals has spiked and is now at about 100,000 people a month. This has overwhelmed the system. The immigration courts have backlogs of hundreds of thousands of cases.

There is profound partisan disagreement over how to handle it. Trump continues to press for a border wall and wants to take money from military projects to build new barriers. Democrats have pushed for facilities to handle incoming families and have excoriated the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents under a now-rescinded policy.

Mexico’s leftist government has addressed the migrant caravans by offering thousands of short-term humanitarian visas allowing migrants to live and work in the country. In a remarkable concession, it agreed to a Trump administration request to host migrants who are undergoing U.S. asylum proceedings, a controversial program dubbed “Remain in Mexico.”

So far this year, Mexico has deported roughly 25,000 Central Americans, according to its immigration agency. Earlier this week, Mexico deported 66 Cubans who were planning to join a migrant caravan traveling to the United States. Between 2015 and 2018, Mexico deported 436,125 Central Americans, many of them on their way to the United States.

Jim Nealon, a former U.S. ambassador to Honduras, said Trump didn’t seem to understand that Central American countries were already working with the United States to discourage the flow of migrants.

“But they can’t prevent their citizens from leaving their countries any more than [Trump] can prevent citizens from leaving the U.S.,” Nealon said.

Sheridan reported from Mexico City. Nick Miroff in Washington and Kevin Sieff in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Authors: JOEL ACHENBACH, MARY BETH SHERIDAN AND DAVID J. LYNCH, THE WASHINGTON POST

Hundreds of agents will be pulled from ports of entry to help El Paso Border Patrol process undocumented immigrants

Saying that his agency has reached a “breaking point” in the face of a surge of undocumented immigrants, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan called on Congress for help and said he’s reassigning 750 federal agents stationed at some of the country’s busiest international bridges and trade zones to help overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol agents.

During a news conference near the Rio Grande, McAleenan said the Border Patrol is on pace to apprehend about 100,000 migrants this month alone along the southwest border — most of them families and unaccompanied children from Central America. The El Paso sector has seen a particularly large surge in undocumented immigrants, he said, and across the southwest border the agency now has more than 13,400 migrants in custody, including nearly 3,500 in El Paso.

“A crisis level is 6,000; 13,000 is unprecedented,” he said.

McAleenan told Congress in testimony earlier this month that the border was reaching a breaking point, and on Wednesday he said, “That breaking point has arrived this week at our border. And nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso.”

He said CBP agents who are normally tasked with processing legitimate trade and travel while detecting contraband will be reassigned from ports of entry in El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego. Laredo and El Paso have ranked as the country’s top two inland ports for years; about $229 billion and $77.4 billion in two-way trade passed through those respective customs districts in 2018.

“There will be impacts to traffic at the border, there will be a slowdown in the processing of trade, there will be wait times in our pedestrian and passenger vehicle lanes” at ports of entry, he said. “But this is required to help us manage this operational crisis.”

McAleenan also said the vast majority of the apprehended migrants will be released instead of being transferred to and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That agency’s holding facilities are at capacity, and McAleenan said he is left with no choice but to let the migrants go with orders to appear before an immigration judge. Border Patrol agents will now be tasked with deciding whether a person should be released, he said.

“That is not something we want to do; it’s something we have to do given the overcrowding in our facilities,” he said, calling it “an unfortunate step” that hurts morale in the agency.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

El Paso Business, Community Leaders Launch Effort Against CBP’s Proposed Migrant Processing Center

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.

Continued surge of immigrant apprehensions in El Paso puts strain on shelters, volunteers

When U.S. Border Patrol agents here apprehended more than 300 peoplein two separate instances one day last month, it was unclear how long the record crossings would continue.

That question was partially answered Tuesday after agents in the El Paso sector apprehended more than 400 people in less than 24 hours — part of a trend that’s seen an average of 570 apprehensions a day in the sector over the last month.

The influx has put such a strain on federal detention facilities that the city’s Office of Emergency Management was considering converting a municipal park into a staging ground for about 150 immigrants Tuesday after they were released by federal officials.

Ruben Garcia, the director of the Annunciation House, a local shelter, said they’re usually able to provide housing at one of the organization’s shelter spaces when they’re notified by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and told how many immigrants to expect. If space isn’t available, Garcia and his volunteers search for hotel space to ensure the migrants don’t end up on the streets of El Paso.

Tuesday was a narrow escape — Garcia was able to secure hotel space and the park wasn’t needed. But the incident has led the city council to consider calling a special meeting soon to address the issue.

“We have to have the council give us a little bit more direction in terms of what they want,” city spokesperson Laura Cruz Acosta said. “We need to make sure that we are following the proper policies and procedures as they relate to any actions on expenditures that we spend on something that’s outside of normal operations.”

Of the record apprehensions over the last month, about 90 percent happened in El Paso’s city limits, the Border Patrol said in a statement. Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley have also seen a surge in illegal crossings — The (McAllen) Monitor reported that agents apprehended 1,000 people in one day last week — and have started releasing migrants with notices to appear before an immigration judge.

On Wednesday, Garcia said the shelters need more help from the city to prevent immigrants — many of them Central Americans who are seeking asylum in the U.S. — from being released with no place to go. He’s also asking the city to provide volunteers to help the migrants make arrangements to travel beyond El Paso. The volunteers at the Annunciation House are stretched too thin, he said.

“Over the past five months we’re already approaching a million dollars in expense just for the hotels, that’s not sustainable for us,” Garcia said.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR –  The Texas Tribune

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.

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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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