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Home | Tag Archives: trump border

Tag Archives: trump border

Federal officials credit Trump’s crackdown after border apprehensions dropped in August

The number of people who were apprehended by or surrendered to federal immigration officials on the U.S.-Mexico border dipped by more than 20 percent last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday. After totalling 82,055 apprehensions in July, the agency reported an August total of about 64,000 apprehensions — a decrease of 22%.

The August total includes about 50,700 apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol agents between the official ports of entry and about 13,300 “inadmissables” who presented themselves at a port of entry but were deemed inadmissible by Customs and Border Protection officers.

It’s the third straight monthly decline and the lowest since January’s total of about 58,300. The August total is also less than half of this year’s peak in May, when more than 144,000 people were apprehended at the border.

Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said the dip is a direct result of President Trump’s immigration policies and not traditional seasonal slowdowns caused by the summer heat. Those policies include the Migrant Protection Protocols, which require migrants to wait in Mexico for their immigration hearings, and forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico before they are allowed to apply.

Moran said during a news conference Monday that seasonal slowdowns usually account for an 8 percent dip.

“If you look from June to July, we saw those numbers drop by 40 percent,” he said. “Last year from July to August, the numbers actually went up 16 percent. This is the season when they start going up. And this year, down 23 percent. It’s what this president and this administration is doing, it has nothing to do with seasonal trends.”

The declines can also be partially attributed to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s deployment of federal troops to that country’s southern border with Guatemala to help slow the flow of migrants from Central America traveling north. That move came after Trump threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25% on Mexican imports.

Although the numbers have dipped in recent months, border agents have already apprehended thousands more migrants this fiscal year than during all of the 2018 fiscal year. The federal government’s fiscal year runs from October to September.

Texas continues to be the busiest crossing point for migrants, and the two largest categories of unauthorized crossers continue to be family units and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States.

From October to August, more than 205,000 family units were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector, which covers South Texas — a 277% increase over the same period in 2018. About 33,100 unaccompanied minors have also been apprehended in the sector so far this year, compared with 21,556 during 2018 – a 54% increase.

Agents in the El Paso sector, which includes New Mexico, apprehended about 129,400 family units from October to August of the current fiscal year, along with 15,800 unaccompanied minors. That’s an increase of about 1,243% and 221%, respectively.

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

Most migrants won’t qualify for U.S. asylum under new Trump policy

The Trump administration wants to make migrants who pass through another nation before entering the U.S. at its southern border ineligible for asylum, the Associated Press reported Monday. The effort would disqualify most asylum seekers who did not first seek safe haven in another country before crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, including unaccompanied children.

The AP reported that there would be exceptions to the rule, which was published in the Federal Register and is expected to take effect Tuesday. Migrants would still be eligible for asylum if they had been trafficked, for example, or if they sought asylum in another country but were denied.

The rule, issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, is an effort to crack down on what the Trump administration says are “meritless” claims of asylum from tens of thousands of people who have exploited current law, according to the text.

“By deterring meritless asylum claims and de-prioritizing the applications of individuals who could have obtained protection in another country, the Departments seek to ensure that those refugees who have no alternative to U.S.-based asylum relief or have been subjected to an extreme form of human trafficking are able to obtain relief more quickly,” the text states. “Additionally, the rule seeks to curtail the humanitarian crisis created by human smugglers bringing men, women, and children across the southern border.”

The American Civil Liberties Union promised immediate legal action to halt the policy.

“The Trump administration is trying to unilaterally reverse our country’s legal and moral commitment to protect those fleeing danger,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. “This new rule is patently unlawful and we will sue swiftly.”

Other efforts by the Trump administration to change asylum policy — like denying asylum to migrants who cross the border illegally or detaining migrants while their cases are decided — have been blocked.

The latest policy is an attempt to reduce a surge of unaccompanied children and family units — mostly Central Americans seeking asylum — crossing into Texas and other states on the southern border. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security said that through June, U.S. Border Patrol agents had apprehended more than 688,000 undocumented immigrants, an increase of about 140% from last year, a DHS spokesperson said.

The two most heavily used routes go through El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley. From October, when the federal government’s 2019 fiscal year began, through June, more than 27,800 unaccompanied children and about 166,000 family units were apprehended by or surrendered to Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector — an increase of 60% and 293% from 2018, respectively. In the El Paso sector, which also includes New Mexico, about 14,600 unaccompanied children and 117,600 family units were apprehended. That’s an increase of 267% and 1,759% from 2018, respectively.

The new rule could also add to the current logjam of asylum seekers and other refugees in certain Mexican border cities that have to accept asylum seekers under the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, known as “remain in Mexico.” The program began in California in January and was expanded to the El Paso ports of entry in March. It expanded to the Laredo and Nuevo Laredo border in South Texas last week.

Through July 11, more than 9,300 people had been returned to Ciudad Juárez under the program, according to Chihuahua state officials. About 36% are from Guatemala, 29% are from Honduras, 16% are from El Salvador and the rest from other countries, including Cuba.

On Friday, Enrique Valenzuela, director of Ciudad Juárez’s Centro de Atención a Migrantes, a migrant transition facility operated by the Chihuahua state government, said state and local officials are trying to quickly find more shelter space in the border city as the number of migrants returned or waiting to apply for asylum grows.

Members of Congress and immigrant advocates have also criticized the conditions that many migrants are facing while detained in Border Patrol processing centers in the United States. Migrant men at a McAllen center hadn’t showered in “10 or 20” days, according to accounts from reporters who accompanied Vice President Mike Pence on a tour of the facility Friday.

Read related Tribune coverage

Author:  JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

A surge of migrants arriving at the Texas-Mexico border has pushed the country’s immigration system to the breaking point as new policies aimed at both undocumented immigrants and legal asylum seekers have contributed to a humanitarian crisis. The Texas Tribune is maintaining its in-depth reporting on this national issue.


Texas will deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to the border amid migrant surge

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that the state will deploy 1,000 troops from the Texas National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to aid the federal government with border security efforts.

“There is an escalating crisis at the border — a crisis Congress is refusing to fix,” said Abbott, who was flanked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, along with Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, the adjutant general of the Texas National Guard, during a news conference at the Texas Capitol.

Abbott said the troops will have two main roles: to help at temporary holding facilities for single adult migrants in the Rio Grande Valley and in El Paso, and to help Border Patrol units along ports of entry. The federal government, he said, will pay “100% of the costs of this short-term mission,” which will roughly double the number of Texas troops currently stationed at the border.

Migrant apprehensions along the border have continued to surge in recent months. According to numbers released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the beginning of June, roughly 133,000 were apprehended or surrendered to border agents along the southwest border in May.

In the El Paso and Del Rio sectors, the number of migrants crossing the border has jumped 43% and 46%, respectively, since April. The vast majority of migrants entering the country are unaccompanied minors or families from Central America who are seeking asylum in the United States.

The trio of leaders also underscored the fact that that they’re fed up with inaction in Washington, D.C., on the issue — and rejected any suggestion that they’ve enabled it by doling out millions of state dollars for border security.

“Congress is a group of reprobates for not addressing a crisis on our border,” said Abbott, who signed a 2020-21 state budget earlier this month that has $800 million earmarked for border security operations.

“Shame on Congress if they won’t do their job,” Bonnen said. “Just because they won’t get their job done doesn’t mean we won’t do our job.”

In the final days of the 86th regular legislative session, state budget writers emerged with a proposal to funnel an extra $100 million from the state’s savings account to Abbott’s office for “surge operations necessary to secure the border.” Lawmakers said they anticipated the federal government to repay the funds — but after pushback from some Democrats, both the House and Senate voted to strip the funding.

National Guard deployments at the Texas-Mexico border have become relatively common in recent years. President Donald Trump sent troops to the border in 2018 after saying Congress wasn’t acting on border security.

Trump’s two predecessors, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, also temporarily sent guard troops to the border. Bush sent about 6,000 National Guard troops there in 2006. Obama deployed 1,200 in 2010.

And Abbott’s predecessor, Republican Rick Perry, deployed state guard units as tens of thousands of migrants from Central America began crossing illegally into Texas, mainly in the Rio Grande Valley.

As news of the latest deployment settled in Friday afternoon, Democrats knocked GOP state leaders for what they characterized as “manufacturing yet another border crisis.”

“Deploying 1000 new troops to the border is reckless, unnecessary, and further serves to harm our relationships with our strategic allies in Central America and Mexico,” Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a released statement. “Deploying new troops to the border solves nothing.”

Author: CASSANDRA POLLOCK – The Texas Tribune

Read related Tribune coverage

Video: Cornyn Stresses Importance of U.S.-Mexico Trade Relationship

WASHINGTON – Monday on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed the importance of preserving the United States’ trade relationship with Mexico while working to secure our southern border.

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s floor remarks are below

“It is a fact of life that businesses and jobs in our communities in Texas and, literally, around the country rely on a strong trading relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, something I’ve always supported and will continue to advocate for.”

“I appreciate President Trump’s unwavering commitment to securing our southern border and enforcing our immigration laws, and I’ll continue to support his efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigration, to improve physical security, to close dangerous loopholes in the law, and provide our frontline officers and agents the tools and resources they need to carry out their sworn mission.”

“But it’s important to remember that any actions that we take to secure our southern border must also keep in mind the important role that Mexico plays in the economy of the United States. My state enjoys a strong relationship economically with Mexico because of that 1,200-mile common border.”


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

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

Op-Ed: Trump’s vision prevailed over Beto’s in El Paso

In the City of El Paso, two visions for the future of Texas and the future of America were on display, that of President Trump and that of former Congressman Robert Francis O’Rourke.

The President’s vision is based on reality and action; the other is based on myths and knee-jerk emotional reactions.

“We believe in the American Constitution and our great rule of law; we believe in the dignity of work and the sanctity of life; we believe that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American way,” President Trump told the people of El Paso at his rally Monday night. “We believe in religious liberty, the right to free speech, and the right to keep and bear arms. We believe that children should be taught to love our country, honor our incredible history, and always respect our great American flag. We believe that the first duty of government is to be loyal to its citizens, and we live by the words of our national motto… In God We Trust.”

In addition to listing the fundamental American values shared by Republicans and loathed by the extremist Democrat Party, the also President highlighted, in vivid and compelling terms, the urgent humanitarian and security crisis on the border, vowing that the wall will be built to protect American communities.

“This weekend some Democrats even proposed a measure that would force the release of thousands of criminal illegal aliens,” he noted, rattling off a series of shocking statistics on the thousands of violent criminals currently in ICE custody, “including dangerous felons convicted of rape, sex trafficking, violent assault, and even murder.”

“Beto,” on the other hand, pretended that there is absolutely no crisis on the border at all, accusing President Trump of “hatred and intolerance” for wanting to build the wall.

Of course, he also ignored the fact that President Trump is not against legal immigration, and only wants to stop people from cutting in line without going through the legal process.

There’s nothing in his self-indulgent protest rally that we haven’t already seen from Robert O’Rourke, who showed us he will still drone on at length about the plight of foreigners who are caught trying to evade our law enforcement and infiltrate our country, yet won’t so much as a make a phone call to American families from his own district who have lost loved ones to illegal alien crime.

He even made a call for full-scale amnesty, saying, “Make every single one them [Dreamers] U.S. citizens…and let’s make sure that their parents…have a path to citizenship.”

He insisted that illegal aliens are harmless, but then ignored the fact that his allies in Congress are pushing to force the government to release thousands of illegal aliens with criminal records from DHS custody into our communities.

In fact, he dismissed the whole idea that criminals are coming over our border at all, saying, “You know who we are apprehending? Kids, children…if they’re lucky, with their moms or their dads.”

In contrast, during the real rally Monday night in El Paso, President Trump delivered honest talk about the urgent crisis that demands a real, workable solution to secure the border.

O’Rourke can hand wave all he wants about how mean President Trump is, but he can’t deny that border walls have worked wonderfully in his own home town, and he can’t charm his way out of the fact that 89 percent of our Border Patrol agents agree with President Trump that more physical barriers are needed to secure hundreds more miles of strategic sections of the border.

There were two visions on display in El Paso: President Trump’s sincere desire to protect America, and Robert O’Rourke’s superficial appeal to the far-left Democrat base — and if the crowd sizes at the dueling rallies were any indication, the people of Texas stand firmly behind the winning vision of Donald Trump.


Mica Mosbacher is the American author of The Hurricane Factor: Stormside Patriots and the memoir Racing Forward. She is a member of the National Advisory Board of Trump 2020, a political strategist and a frequent guest conservative commentator on Fox News, FBN, BBC World, BBC Newsday, TRT, ITN, LBC and CBC Radio, ITV.


The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at

Op-Ed: The Trump Snake Oil Wagon Rolls into Town this Monday

The damage is done.

President Trump went and weaponized our city as a political propaganda tool to push his personal “Build my Big, Beautiful Wall” agenda.

He looked America straight in the eye during his State of the Union Address and put us under his dark, manipulative spotlight, telling everybody that El Paso was once one of the most violent crime-ridden cities in America, but immediately after the local border wall was built, we magically transformed into one of the safest.

The president’s reputation for honesty is abysmal, and this whopper is on full rotation in his continuing effort to fulfill his absurd promise to his 35% base to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on a medieval wall straight out of the Dark Ages while ignoring real immigration reform.

Unfortunately, the collateral damage will not stop with his pre-meditated lie repeated on the national and international media stage.

Donald Trump is coming to town and his timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Less than a week after his incendiary, disingenuous and divisive SOTU address, Trump will roll his snake oil wagon into the El Paso Coliseum to sell his dubious elixirs to our city.

And he’s lining up El Pasoans to become salespeople for his xenophobic, fear-mongering, divisive and heartless immigration tactics.

Chants of “Build the wall!  Build the wall!  Build the wall!” will fill the Coliseum on Monday night.

What better city to manipulate as a political tool to push an unpopular wall than one on the border with plenty of anti-immigrant sentiment, a pro-wall mayor and loads of Trump love?

We may be 83% Latino but there is a surprising level of bitterness towards people who arrive at our doors looking for asylum and a better life for their families.  And a lot of this anger comes from this very population.

Yes, we all know that they need to enter legally like our parents and abuelos did but America’s immigration system has degraded to a near-impossible maze of hoops and dollars and years that desperate people have to negotiate in mind-numbing and soul-crushing frustration.

We’ve witnessed firsthand the kind of abusive treatment the Trump administration subjects asylum seekers to right here on the border and yet, rather than deal with these human rights and immigration issues, we demand nothing more than a metaphoric wall that represents our deepest prejudices towards people of color south of our borders.

This Monday will be something of a litmus test for El Paso’s citizens and leaders.

It’s a moment in our history where one of America’s most polarizing and confounding presidents will roll into town, toss a figurative grenade into our midst and make every effort to divide us further in the name of his wall and his 2020 Re-election Tour.

Many will put on their Trump merch, make a holy pilgrimage to the Coliseum and sit at Trump’s feet as he delivers his Monday night sermon.

Many will organize and march with protest signs and rhyming chants fueled by fear and loathing.

Many will sit this one out.

I for one have downloaded my tickets to his rally, I’ll present them at the door, take a seat and watch El Paso history in the making along with several hundred fellow El Pasoans who I have serious disagreements with but are none-the-less my neighbors and fellow human beings.

I gave up on Trump long before he even became president but I’m not ready to give up on those who think in diametric opposition to me just yet.

I hope they feel the same way about me.

Otherwise we’re doomed as a country.

Whatever you do on Monday night, do it with your whole heart.

America will be watching.

Graphic by Jud Burgess


Jud Burgess is a local graphic designer, business owner, and blogger who is involved in local activism efforts.  /  James No Bond on FB


The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at

Congresswoman Escobar Sends Letter to President, Asking to Correct the Record,Apologize to El Pasoans

On Thursday,  Congresswoman Veronica Escobar sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to correct the record and apologize to El Pasoans for his misleading remarks during the State of the Union address.

Congresswoman Escobar also invited President Trump to tour El Paso and to hear from local stakeholders.

Below is the complete tweet and letter.


“The abuse was structural:” Report Offers Glimpse of Life Inside Now-Empty Tornillo Migrant Camp

The tent city popped up over the summer, about 40 miles from El Paso, as the U.S. government sought more space to hold hundreds of unaccompanied teenagers caught crossing the Rio Grande from places like Honduras and Guatemala.

It was supposed to be a temporary solution, but a one-month contract to operate the camp stretched to two months, then three, then into the holidays as its population swelled.

After holding more than 6,000 immigrant teenagers over its seven-month lifespan, the controversial detention center — which drew a steady stream of protestors and fact-finding members of Congress who took tours and denounced what they saw — saw the last of its detainees leave last week. Many were placed with family members or other sponsors in the U.S. while others were sent to different facilities to continue their detention.

In this report, CityLab explores life inside Tornillo, its place in the history of American detention camps and what the place symbolized for the people who call that corner of West Texas home.

Authors: BY TEXAS TRIBUNE STAFF – The Texas Tribune

Trump Urges Democrats to Fund Border Barrier, but Stops Short of Ordering Military to Build it

After claiming that illegal immigration disproportionately affects black and Hispanic Americans and fuels smugglers’ abuse of women and children, President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged federal lawmakers to see his way on border security and fund his long-promised wall.

“All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration.” Trump said. “It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.”

His speech, which came days before a planned trip to the Texas-Mexico border, unsurprisingly drew immediate ire from Democrats in the state’s Congressional delegation.

“In the president’s remarks, there were falsehoods & inaccurate statistics,” U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, tweeted shortly after the televised address. “We heard nothing new, nothing that will endure. What will endure is our national motto – that out of many, we are one.”

The president Tuesday again made the case for his signature campaign promise – a wall on the southern border that would cost taxpayers more than $5 billion. But he added that, “at the request of Democrats” he was willing to settle for a steel barrier instead of a concrete structure.

“This barrier is absolutely critical to border security,” the president said, adding that the structure would be paid for, in part, through the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

That deal has yet to be ratified by Congress and analysts have noted that even if it is approved by lawmakers, the trade pact known as the USMCA would not fund the wall’s construction.

The president’s address came in the midst of a weeks-long partial government shutdown that has hamstrung about 25 percent of the federal workforce, who are working without pay. The shuttering of government offices came after U.S. House and Senate Democrats refused to fund part of the president’s wall during last December’s budget negotiations.

What the president didn’t do on Tuesday is double down on an idea that he’d floated publicly in recent days: declaring a national emergency and ordering the U.S. military to build the wall.

That idea met resistance from both parties, including the ranking member on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry, who told the Washington Post that he wouldn’t support dipping into the Pentagon’s budget to pay for a border wall.

“In short, I’m opposed to using defense dollars for non-defense purposes,” said the Republican from Clarendon. “I think border security is very important. It is not the responsibility of the Department of Defense.”

And U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said this week that such a move would be a “profoundly inappropriate” circumvention of the nation’s legislative branch.

During his roughly nine-minute speech, the president also remarked on the ills caused by the flow of illegal drugs into the country. He also likely angered immigrant rights groups and their supporters by listing crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants, including the recent killing of a California police officer the day after Christmas.

“The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country,” Trump said.

Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick missed the first day of the legislative sessionTuesday because he was “working with the president’s team” on the televised address. He will join Trump on a Thursday visit to McAllen, where the president is expected to again make his case for the barrier.

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said on Tuesday he was concerned the president would try to paint his city as a lawless swath of America. But he reiterated that the city and the people that live there are used to the mischaracterization of the Texas-Mexico border.

Darling said his city has remained safe for years, even as it has become ground zero for the nation’s immigration imbroglios and the place where an influx of Central American asylum seekers cross into America.

“We’ve been dealing with the immigration issue and the asylum issue since 2014,” Darling said. “Regardless of what Washington says, whether it’s the president or anyone else, we’re a safe area, a prosperous area – just like the rest of America. We happen to have an international border, which we think in as asset as opposed to a liability.”

Democrats and immigrants rights groups wasted no time in challenging the president’s claims made Tuesday. In a statement, Lorella Praeli, the deputy political director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the crisis at the border was of the administration’s own making.

“It’s manufactured security emergency isn’t credible,” Praeli said.

Though he was uncharacteristically subdued on Tuesday, the president could still widen the gap that currently exists between his office and Democrats during his Texas visit this week, according to Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University.

“If he starts using more inflammatory rhetoric and starts using statistics and facts that are questionable, then he could harden the Democrats’ positions and make them less likely to compromise,” Jones said.

Jones added that as the shutdown drags on, the potential for long-lasting damage to the president and his supporters grows.

“Any pressure that he’s receiving from [critics] is dwarfed by the pressure that he’s receiving from Senate and House Republicans who are very worried about the impact that the shutdown is having on the party,” he said. “The president is receiving far more of the blame than are Congressional Democrats.”

Emma Platoff contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Rice University 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: JULIÁN AGUILAR – The Texas Tribune

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Vows to Challenge Lupe Valdez on Border Issues

KINGWOOD — Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday vowed to challenge Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez over her views on border security and immigration, emphasizing an early contrast with the former Dallas County sheriff who has not yet secured her party’s nomination.

Abbott’s comments drew a full-throated response from Valdez, who suggested the Republican incumbent “would rather spend his time sowing division than talking about his failed leadership.”

Abbott offered his most extensive comments on Valdez’s candidacy yet after a Tea Party meeting here Monday night, telling The Texas Tribune that he and she “have been locked in a battle for an aspect of Texas ideology” that goes back to their clash three years ago over her department’s policy on compliance with federal immigration authorities. Like he did in a tweet earlier this month — when he broke his silence on Valdez’s campaign — Abbott treated her as the Democratic nominee Monday, despite the fact she is in a May 22 runoff against Andrew White, the son of late Gov. Mark White.

“It’s clear that she’s not only obviously the frontrunner and had the most votes in the initial go-around, but it’s our analysis that she’ll be the nominee,” Abbott said. “And so every time she comes out and starts talking about ways that are antagonistic to the Texas perspective on making sure that we ban sanctuary cities, secure our border, I’m going to challenge her on it.”

Valdez opposes the state’s ban on “sanctuary cities”  — known as Senate Bill 4, or SB 4 — that Abbott signed into law last year, looking to punish local officials who do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities. She has also been critical of his decision to heed the call of President Donald Trump and send hundreds of National Guard troops to the border earlier this month — criticismthat prompted Abbott’s April 4 tweet declaring her his November opponent.

“I think she embodies the Obama approach, which is more open borders, obviously not enforcing the ban on sanctuary cities,” Abbott said Monday. “We went through a big legislative process to make sure that Texas would pass a ban on sanctuary cities. If Lupe is elected, she will eviscerate that ban on sanctuary cities, and all these concerns that so many Texans have will be threatened.”

Valdez fired back in a statement Tuesday morning, saying it’s “back to business as usual with Greg Abbott spewing his fear-based open borders nonsense.”

“I’ve spent 42 years working in law enforcement, working to keep Americans safe, I know what smart security looks like and this isn’t it,” Valdez said. “Demonizing immigrants, and spreading fear and hatred is exactly the wrong approach.”

As for the “sanctuary cities” law, Valdez added, “You can bet this military veteran, former federal agent and four-term Sheriff of Dallas County is going to eviscerate SB 4.”

Read related Tribune coverage:


US Attorney General Sessions Visits Las Cruces, Talks Immigration, Border Wall

LAS CRUCES – Providing 4,000 National Guardsman to assist, ending of “radical” catch and release practices, and reducing the backlog of immigration cases were the resounding messages that Attorney General Jeff Sessions left a group of about 150 county sheriff’s and border patrol agents during the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition spring conference.

Just outside about 150 protestors from the Border Network for Human Rights, churches and other organizations gathered outside the hotel demanding that Sessions leave the border.

On Facebook, Fernando Garcia, director for the BNHR said that Session’s message and the deployment of the National Guardsmen along the border was a war against families.

The coalition, which comprises of sheriff’s offices from 31 counties in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, is an annual event that provides additional training to law enforcement that are within 25 miles of the international boundary line.

In his to Las Cruces on Wednesday, Sessions congratulated the U.S. Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security officers and the county Sheriff’s of the Southwestern Border for keeping America safe.

“The independently elected sheriff has been seen as the people’s protector,” Sessions said. “Keeping law enforcement close and accountable. So the work you do is essential because it is keeping safety in America. I believe it, and the Department of Justice believes it and President Trump believes it. We have your back and you have our thanks.”

Sessions spoke to law enforcement officers just before his speech, without members of the media. After his speech he did not take questions from the audience or the media.

He repeatedly stated that President Donald Trump and his administration stood with them and would support them. On Monday, hundreds of National Guardsmen deployed in the states of Texas, New Mexico an Arizona.

“They can help,” Sessions said. “Certain things they are not going to be able to to do and they will not be doing. But, there are many ways that they can be supportive and helpful.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense memo, the troops will simply work help in identifying vulnerabilities.

“The troops will not perform law enforcement activities or interact with migrants or other individuals detained by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) without approval from (Defense Secretary James) Mattis,” the Memo states.

Construction for a border wall replacement in Santa Teresa began on Monday, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
In a press release the USCBP said the construction of the wall was awarded on Jan. 22 to Barnard Construction of Boezman, Montana.
The area in which replacement will begin is along the 20-mile section of the existing vehicle barrier. The contract includes drainage improvement along that section.

Construction of the wall is slated to run for 390 days and estimated to cost $73.3 million.

According to the CBP the El Paso sector had 25,193 illegal aliens apprehended and 24,189 pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine seized.

Sessions added that while he knew it was not the place of Sheriff or State law enforcement to enforce immigration law, he asked that they consider voluntarily doing so as the Border States face a “crises” according to Sessions.

Additional help by this presidential administration will also be provided as many as 100 immigration judges to the border areas, Sessions said.

“We are actively working with our partners in homeland security to ensure that we can deploy judges electronically and by video teleconference so that they can help us handle a lot more cases efficiently.”
He added that the threshold the administration would like to see is a completion of 700 cases by each judge.

“This is the average by some judges, and some are well below that,” he said. “This is not a radical goal. It’s positive to have consistent and efficiency and productivity in our immigration system.”

Throughout his speech Sessions referred to criminal activities that some undocumented immigrants have been arrested for. He spoke about the need to dismantle the MS-13 gang, and then added that along the border law enforcement agencies may have additional challenges with gangs that are “bigger” than MS-13.

Sessions went on to speak about the opioid epidemic and the number of illegal drugs that cross into the United States through the Mexico border.

“So, we are going to step up our efforts to achieve zero tolerance; zero tolerances on releases and 100 percent prosecution wherever possible,” Sessions said. “And it’s not possible, probably – to do everything we want to do this year, but we are moving in that direction.”

He indicated that an uptick in illegal border crossings within the last month could be because of the “loopholes” within the immigration system, the lack of a wall along the southern border, and probably because things are going well in the Trump economy.

Sessions then referred to Obama’s administration practices of catch and release programs as radical, and then referred to the reason of fear of going back to their country.

“They claimed (illegal aliens) that they couldn’t be sent home because of fear, surprisingly the exploitation and the abuse of a credible fear loophole has been a big problem for us,” Sessions said.

“And if you talk to our Border Patrol and ICE and HIS and U.S. Attorneys then you know that’s true. After the release from custody, a large number of illegal aliens disappear. They abscond – they never show up for the hearing in court. The vast majority that do show up have had their asylum claims denied because their claims were not justified.  Just because you have danger in one town in Mexico or any other country doesn’t mean you can’t go some other place in that same country. If someone feels dangerous that doesn’t mean you get the right to demand citizenship or entry into Canada. Give me a break. That’s never been the way the system was ever intended to work.”

Sessions then briefly spoke about the catch and release of children that enter illegally into the United States and added that it is unknown who they are released to.

“This is not a healthy way for us to operate,” he said. “It encourages people to make the trip that they shouldn’t be making at great expense and risk.”

He added that the flow of farm workers who are willing to get paid less are “pulling down the wages of Americans that need a better chance to advance themselves….It huts particularly the recent immigrants who are trying to get their feet on the ground as well as minorities. They are clearly suffering the most from these policies. They have dreams too. They want to do well too.”

Sessions visit comes just a few days after national media outlet reported President Trump had weighed the option of whether to fire the Attorney General, and replace him with Scott Pruitt, Chief of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But since Sessions recused himself on March 2017, from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation on whether interference with the 2016 presidential election had ties to Trump’s campaign, national media outlet have reported that Trump has been vying to replace Sessions – additionally citing his unhappiness with Session’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Removing Sessions from his seat as attorney general, could open up the position to Pruitt, who was recently criticized for his travel costs use of security detail and other questionable use of tax payers money.

But on Friday, Trump stated that talk of replacing sessions with Pruitt was merely fake news.

“Do you believe that the Fake News Media is pushing hard on a story that I am going to replace A.G. Jeff Sessions with EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, who is doing a great job but is totally under siege? Do people really believe this stuff? So much of the media is dishonest and corrupt.”

As of Wednesday Sessions was still the United States Attorney General.

After speaking to law enforcement and Border Patrol officers, at the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s coalition, he was scheduled to return to Washington D.C.

Dona Ana County Sheriff Enrique, “Kiki” Vigil said that while he’s heard that other Sheriff’s along the Texas-Mexico border have had some problems, in New Mexico there is not a crises as Sessions and the Presidential administration has implied.

There are other issues that we need to take care of here first,” Vigil said. He added that with modern technology that can secure the border without National Guardsman. “The wall is going to take a lot of money, that will take a lot of money. You know why not put that toward helping those with mental illness, our schools and fixing our infrastructure. I don’t support the wall.”

When asked if the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s office would voluntarily assist Border Patrol agents in enforcing immigration law, Vigil shook his head.

“Not from my office we are not immigration officers we are here to protect everybody. “

From Presidio, Texas, County Sheriff Daniel Dominguez argues that having a wall will help in many ways as well as additional funds and technology.

“On the border, where we are short handed we could use the extra resources,” Dominguez said. “By doing so we can slow it down – it won’t stop it – but it will slow it down.”

Dominguez said the assistance of the National Guardsmen would also assist his deputies.

“They are tied up most of the time in the office and they can’t be out there in the field,” Dominguez said. “So they can come down here (Presidio) and alleviate the pressure.”

The conference was held at the Ramada Las Cruces Hotel and Conference Center, 201 E. University Avenue.

Author: Alex Hinojosa – El Paso Herald Post

Bishop Seitz Statement on Executive Order Sending National Guard to Southern Border

In the midst of a week in which we Christians continue to celebrate God’s mercy and Christ’s gift of peace to all humanity, I have learned of President Trump’s Executive Order ordering the National Guard to our Southern Border.

It is my understanding that the National Guard is a military force intended for the protection of our nation. They assist in times of natural disasters or respond to an armed threat from a foreign military force.
I am left with many questions to which there appear to be no reasonable answer.

To what threat are the citizen soldiers of our powerful nation responding? Why are we placing a military force on the border when the vast majority of those in our country without documents are here because they have overstayed their visa? Why are we further militarizing a border that we share with a peaceful neighbor at a time when undocumented immigration across our border is at a low ebb? Is our nation reacting to a ragtag group of Hondurans who are fleeing for their lives seeking refuge? They are fleeing from a nation controlled by narco-trafficking gangs flush with cash provided by our nation’s insatiable appetite for illegal drugs.

This group is not invading, they are fleeing! They are not sneaking across an unguarded frontier, they are presenting themselves at border crossings and seeking asylum. They are seeking to enter our country legally following international asylum laws which our country had a major role in writing, to assure that people fleeing persecution and organized violence would be able to find safe refuge. If a just system were in place in which the lives of parents and children were secure, the vast majority of those entering our country from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, would not have departed from community or family.

Has it now become a crime in our country to run for your life? Have we become so fearful and hypocritical that we would expect a country like Lebanon to accept a number 30% the size of their population from Syria, but we ourselves cannot accept a fraction of one percent of those fleeing from the countries with the highest homicide rates in the world? If you were a Honduran whose children were being raped and told that they would have to do the gang’s bidding or die, what would you do?

It is time for Mr. Trump to stop playing on people’s unfounded fears. I live on the border and my city is year after year one of the safest in the country. These troops are being asked to leave their families and their employment to come to our border where they can do battle against the wind. They will find no enemy combatants here, just poor people seeking to live in peace and security. They will find no opposition forces, just people seeking to live in love and harmony with their family members and neighbors and business partners and fellow Christians on both sides of the border.

A President’s use of military force is one of his most sacred trusts. I pray that our President will reconsider this rash and ill-informed action.

Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, D.D.
Bishop of El Paso

Commission on Migration, Bishop Seitz, Release Statement on National Guard Border Deployment

On Wednesday, the Commission on Migration of the Diocese of El Paso and the Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to deploy the National Guard to the border.

Today’s decision by the Trump administration to deploy the National Guard to the border is morally irresponsible and dangerously ineffective. It is a hurtful attack on migrants, our welcoming border culture, and our shared values as Americans.

As a border community, we already know the painful moral and human consequences of the militarization of our border. Our undocumented brothers and sisters go through daily existence trapped between checkpoints and failed laws. Our Dreamers continue to live an anxious twilight of uncertainty and stress. The asylum seekers fleeing terror and seeking mercy at our border are imprisoned and separated from their families.

We know that our border has never been more secure. We know that it is irresponsible to deploy armed soldiers in our communities. We know that only by working together to address the dehumanizing poverty and insecurity in our sister countries in Latin America and around the world will we resolve the root causes that drive migration. And we know we must end the hopelessness in our communities that fuels our nation’s addiction to drugs, which deals only death and destruction to the people of our continent.

Jesus Christ, the Sun of Justice, gives us hope that our efforts to build bridges among peoples and cultures is not in vain. On this solemn day when we recall the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let us remember his words. “If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when ‘justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”

Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso

Ms. Lily Limón and Mr. Dylan Corbett, Co-Chairs


The Commission on Migration supports the Bishop of El Paso in advancing the mission of the Church so that persons who migrate are welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated, both in the life of the Church and in society.

Bishop Seitz Visits Washington Monday to Advocate for Immigration Reform

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the deadline originally set by the Trump administration for Congress to extend protections for Dreamers into law, the Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, will advocate for immigration reform in Washington DC.

In visits to federal lawmakers and during a congressional policy briefing together with immigration advocates from El Paso, the Bishop will make the case for the need for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Via a news release from the Diocese of El Paso, officials add, “Bishop Seitz will also lift up the human and moral impacts of increased border enforcement, including the detention of asylum seekers and family separation.”

Although federal courts have ordered the government to continue processing DACA renewal applications, hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible youth who did not or could not apply before the Trump administration terminated the program will soon be in jeopardy.

Speaking on the need for a permanent legislative solution, Bishop Seitz said, “God’s dream is for every child and every family to enjoy safety and security. In my ministry as a bishop on the border, I have seen how the aspirations and hard work of Dreamers have renewed everyone’s faith in the American dream and the hope of a reform that keeps families together and protects the vulnerable who seek refuge at the border.”

The policy briefing, Sealing the Border: The Border Wall, the Militarization of Border Communities and the Criminalization of Asylum Seekers in the Trump Era, is sponsored by the Hope Border Institute (HOPE) and the Center for Migration Studies.  The briefing builds on HOPE’s latest report on the treatment of asylum seekers at the border, Sealing the Border.

Commenting on the upcoming briefing, Dylan Corbett, executive director of HOPE, said, “Bishop Seitz takes the Gospel mandate to be in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable seriously.  We continue to be inspired by his vision that border communities can lead the way in building a more just society and in getting the job done on immigration reform.”

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