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Home | Tag Archives: trump’s wall

Tag Archives: trump’s wall

Long delays at border bridges bring anxiety for businesses as Holy Week begins

It took Ciudad Juárez resident Norma Martinez about 90 minutes just to get halfway through the pedestrian line at the Paso Del Norte Bridge bridge Saturday afternoon on her way to shop for clothes, umbrellas and other goods she resells at her store across the Rio Grande. She said her young son’s feet began to hurt, so the people in front of her allowed her to skip ahead.

Otherwise, she said, they probably would have waited more than two hours to get through U.S. Customs. Normally, Martinez said the line is about 30 or 45 minutes.

She’s just one of the thousands of border residents that have been forced to grapple with a drastic increase in bridge wait times after President Donald Trump’s latest effort address a growing influx of immigrants — many of them Central American families with children — who cross the border to seek asylum.

The Department of Homeland Security said last month it was redirecting 750 Customs and Border Protection officers from the ports of entry in El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego to assist U.S. Border Patrol agents in processing undocumented immigrants. The reassignments have caused massive delays at international bridges for pedestrian, vehicular and cargo traffic in the weeks leading up to Holy Week.

That has merchants concerned about how the administration’s decision to pull hundreds of agents away from their duties at the international bridges will impact the city’s retail sector — especially now at the beginning of Holy Week, one of the busiest seasons for cross-border shopping.

“We are really concerned. Historically Mexican nationals shop a lot during the holidays, especially with the Easter holidays right around the corner,” said Cindy Ramos-Davidson, the CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Shoppers in downtown El Paso on April 12, 2019. Julian Aguilar/The Texas Tribune

Jon Barela, the CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, a nonprofit focused on promoting business and economic development in Ciudad Juárez, El Paso and New Mexico, said Mexican shoppers are responsible for 15 to 30 percent of El Paso’s retail trade, depending on the time of year.

And since federal officials pulled agents from bridge duty, Ramos-Davidson said average wait times for passenger vehicles at El Paso’s international bridges have reached 160 minutes or more, about three times the normal wait.

She said international travelers, mainly from Ciudad Juárez or Chihuahua City, will still likely brave the long lines, but they might decide that shopping is less of a priority than visiting family. The chamber, which has 1,300 members in the El Paso area, recently conducted research and found that more than 50 percent of Mexican tourists won’t cross only to shop if wait times are more than about 45 minutes, she added.

After making it across the bridge Saturday with her son, Martinez said she’ll likely cut back on the number of trips they make to shop in Texas.

“After what we saw today we’d probably think more about making the trip,” she said. “Maybe we’ll come once a month” instead of two or three times.

Commercial industries are also going to feel the effects of the slowdown, Barela said, due to the time tractor-trailers have to spend in line. One business member of the Borderplex Alliance that supplies metal to factories in Ciudad Juárez is operating at about 30 percent of his normal output because of the wait times, Barela said. The employer even had to send some employees home at the height of the slowdown, when according to Barela, wait times reached about 12 hours at some ports.

He said he’s hoping Congress will come together and find the will to reform the nation’s immigration system when it realizes the situation not only affects the border, but industries nationwide.

“Sometimes you need a crisis to encourage people to act and that’s where we’re at right now,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said last week that 545 of the 750 reassigned CBP officers were from the Laredo field office, which has significantly challenged the remaining officers in his district. The Laredo customs district is the country’s No. 1 inland port and saw about $229 billion in two-way trade in 2018. That was followed by the El Paso customs district at about $77.4 billion.

Cuellar said he met with incoming U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez last week and urged him to replace the reassigned officers with supplemental officers from other South Texas field offices.

“We look forward to the arrival of sufficient CBP reinforcements within the week. Congress must work with the Administration to create a strong immigration framework, which can process migrants without sacrificing U.S. commerce,” he said in a statement.

After threatening to close the border with Mexico over the influx of undocumented immigrants, Trump backed off last week and said instead he will impose tariffs on imported automobiles next year if the Mexican government did nothing to stop the flow of migrants.

“[Closing the bridges] is off the table now, but what anxiety does it create in the market? Will people try to rush things into the market before the bridges close?” said Ken Roberts, the president of WorldCity, Inc. a Florida-based company that analyzes trade data and business trends. “That creates traffic on the border. The biggest factor is the uncertainty.”

Author: JULIÁN AGUILARThe Texas Tribune

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.”

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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/

 

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen leaving Trump administration amid surge of migrants on U.S.-Mexico border

President Donald Trump announced Sunday that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was leaving the administration, marking the exit of a second top immigration official in a matter of days as the White House continues to grapple with an influx of migrants on the southern border.

Replacing her on an acting basis will be Kevin McAleenan, who currently serves as the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Trump said Sunday. The announcement on Twitter came shortly after Trump and Nielsen met at the White House, according to two senior administration officials.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted Sunday evening. “I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”

The meeting between Trump and Nielsen was not disclosed on the president’s public schedule that was distributed by the White House, and it came three days after the White House abruptly yanked the nomination of Ronald Vitiello, who had been picked as Trump’s director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The president later signaled that he wants the nation to go “in a tougher direction” on immigration enforcement.

It was not immediately clear whether Nielsen resigned or if Trump fired her. One senior administration official said Nielsen “did not go with the White House with the intention of resigning.”

In the past week, Trump has grappled with a response to the surge of migrants at the border, most notably by threatening to close off the U.S.-Mexico border but backing off within days after pleas from business leaders and Republican lawmakers who warned that a border closure could be devastating to the economy.

Trump toured the border in Calexico, Calif., on Friday and spoke at a roundtable with border and immigration officials to make a case to the public and to Congress for tougher enforcement policies. Nielsen joined him on that trip and appeared at the roundtable.

The number of apprehensions at the southern border soared in March, to nearly 100,000 arrests compared to 58,000 in January, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Much of the surge is attributable to Central American families who are seeking asylum in the United States.

Read related Tribune coverage

Authors: JOSH DAWSEY, NICK MIROFF AND SEUNG MIN KIM, THE WASHINGTON POST

Trump backs off threat to close southern border immediately, says he’ll give Mexico ‘one-year warning’ on drugs, migrants

President Trump on Thursday backed down from his threat to close the southern border immediately, telling reporters at the White House that he is giving Mexico a “one-year warning” before taking action.

Trump had said he would close the border or at least large sections of it, this week if Mexico does not halt illegal immigration into the United States.

But in Thursday’s exchange with reporters, Trump shifted gears, saying that if Mexico does not make progress on stemming the flow of drugs and migrants into the United States within the next year, he will impose tariffs on cars and close the border.

“We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars . . . And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border,” Trump said.

Author:  FELICIA SONMEZ, THE WASHINGTON POST

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.”

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

The Trump administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico has come to El Paso

Some asylum-seeking migrants here will be sent back to Mexico soon under an expanded policy that requires refugees to wait on the other side of the Rio Grande until their hearings before an American immigration judge.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the Migration Protection Protocols, also known as “remain in Mexico,” was expanded to include the El Paso port of entry on Tuesday. An official said people will be sent across the border to the Mexican state of Chihuahua starting later this week.

The program began at California’s San Ysidro Port of Entry in January and was immediately met with outrage from immigrant rights groups and attorneys who said migrants could be in danger in violent Mexican cities and that being in Mexico makes communicating with their U.S.-based attorneys more challenging.

“Given the overwhelming barriers to legal representation affected individuals will face, as well as the difficulties in obtaining documentation critical to supporting their claims, whether or not a person is forced to remain in Mexico could mean the difference between life and death,” Benjamin Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said when the plan was first announced.

The rollout of the program in El Paso comes just days before a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies will be argued in a California federal court. The groups are seeking an immediate injunction to halt the program and claim it violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and international human rights protocols not to return people to dangerous countries.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, said in a statement Wednesday she will introduce legislation to end the policy.

“With this shameful policy, the administration is endangering lives, abandoning its obligation to bring forward smart solutions for our broken immigration system, and imposing on another country the task of solving our immigration challenges,” she said.

The policy doesn’t apply to unaccompanied minor children or other undocumented individuals in expedited removal proceedings, according to a DHS fact sheet about the program.

Other migrants from “vulnerable populations” may be also be excluded from the program on a “case-by-case basis” the DHS fact sheet said.

Read related Tribune coverage

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

Video – Border Hustle: Smugglers, cartels and the U.S. detention industry are making billions off of desperate migrants

Follow two Honduran migrants as their journey to the U.S. for a better life leads them into a giant border hustle where coyotes, cartels and corporations make big bucks off desperate people.

Carlos and his 6-year-old daughter, Heyli, traveled nearly 1,700 miles together from Honduras to reach the U.S. border — and what they hoped would be the start of a new, better life — only to be separated by more than 1,200 miles shortly after they surrendered to Border Patrol agents and requested asylum.

Along the way, they became small players in a shadowy, multibillion-dollar global enterprise: the smuggling of human beings for profit.

In this documentary, The Texas Tribune and TIME traced their journey and investigated the booming smuggling industry that has thrived as the U.S. government seeks to close America’s southern border and as record numbers of migrant families make the long trek north.

You can read the full story about Carlos and Heyli here.

Author:  JAY ROOTThe Texas Tribune

Families Divided

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which led to the separation of children from adults who crossed the border illegally, has fueled a national outcry. Sign up for our ongoing coverage. Send story ideas to tips@texastribune.org.

 MORE IN THIS SERIES 

Video+Info: Trump declares national emergency to build border wall

President Donald Trump made the national emergency announcement from the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday.

Watch the president’s remarks in the player above, video stream courtesy PBS News Hour.

To read about the announcement, click here; to read about the lawsuit opposing the declaration, click here.

To read the actual “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019” click here.

For in-depth coverage/streaming visit:   CNN   |   Fox News   |   cSpan

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Congresswoman Escobar Statement on President Trump’s Unlawful National Emergency Declaration

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s unlawful national emergency declaration:

“President Trump’s national emergency declaration is a political stunt in order to further his administrations’ anti-immigrant agenda and deliver on a campaign promise to build a wasteful and hateful border wall.

“This attack on our democracy not only undermines Congressional and constitutional authority, it hurts the training, readiness, and quality of life of our service members and their families by potentially taking away more than $275 million from our Ft. Bliss Army Base. Furthermore, this promotes an erroneous narrative that portrays all border communities, including El Paso – a safe and vibrant border community – as a problem.

“El Pasoans and fronterizos across the country know that there is no national emergency. Instead, this administration has manufactured a crisis that has used their communities as ground-zero to implement President Trump’s cruel policies towards immigrants and asylum-seeking children and families.

“President Trump’s abuse of power and lies against our southern border will be challenged in Congress and in the courts. I urge my Republican colleagues to end this complicity, stand for what is right, and work towards understanding and addressing the root causes of our nation’s challenges.”

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Texas Border Caucus Chair Rep. Blanco Responds to Trump’s National Emergency Declaration

“Trump’s national emergency declaration for his border wall is dangerous and radical. There is no national security crisis on the border. The only crisis we have is a humanitarian crisis.

“Trump and the Republicans had control of the Presidency, the House, and the Senate for two years and could not get his border wall funded.  This declaration is a dangerous step into dark territory for a president that acts on his worst political impulses. He has trampled on the rule of law and disregarded accepted facts, even from military Generals, the F.B.I., and the U.S. intelligence community. This declaration is purely political.”

Facts:

  • According to Customs and Border Protection, arrests along the southwest border — the standard metric used to calculate illegal border crossings — numbered 396,579 in fiscal year 2018, which ended Oct. 1. That’s lower than the average over the previous decade (400,751). It’s also lower than the number of border arrests in fiscal 2016, 2014 and 2013.
  • Violent crime has been dropping in El Paso since its modern-day peak in 1993 and was at historic lows before a fence was authorized by Congress in 2006. Violent crime actually ticked up during the border fence’s construction and after its completion, according to police data collected by the FBI.
  • For the third straight year, the city of El Paso was ranked as the safest of its size in the country…Congressional Quarterly ranks the border town as the safest of cities with a population greater than 500,000.

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Senator Rodriguez statement in response to the President’s false declaration of a national emergency

State Sen. José Rodríguez, released the following statement after the President declared a false state of national emergency:

It is difficult to fathom an emergency declaration after having had two years to work with a compliant Congress to get done what the President thinks ought to be done. The fact that he was not able to convince his own party of the need when they had control and has openly stated that this is the issue upon which he is staking his re-election campaign should be enough for any self-proclaimed constitutionalist to look askance at his proposed actions.  

More importantly, in my opinion, is that the entire premise is a lie. There is no definition of “border security,” any more than there is “open borders.” Those are simply buzzwords meant to trigger people who know little to nothing about the realities of border enforcement and have unwarranted fears about immigrants.

El Pasoans know the reality of the border first-hand. While I, and frankly, the government’s own security agencies, categorically reject the notion that the border poses an unmet national security threat, we also all recognize the very real issue of smuggling of people and contraband that must be met with smart, focused law enforcement and adequate judiciary.  El Paso meets this challenge every day without demonizing immigrants or border communities.  

The last thing the country needs is an out-of-control president who cannot work with Congress or be trusted to honor an agreement – as happened when he shut down the government for 35 days, hurting millions of people – then attempts unilateral actions in response to criticism from talk show hosts who know or care little for the facts.  

Trump announces national emergency at U.S.-Mexico border

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency as a means to circumvent Congress and build additional border barriers. He is seeking to secure about $6.5 billion more in funding than Congress has approved.

Trump also plans to sign spending legislation to avert a government shutdown, his acting chief of staff said.

Many of Trump’s Republican allies have called a national emergency ill-advised, and Democrats immediately called the move unconstitutional on Friday. The declaration is expected to face an array of legal challenges.

Friday’s announcement follows passage of a 1,169-page spending bill that provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fences along the border in Texas, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought for 234 miles of steel walls.

Trump wrapped up a Rose Garden news conference that stretched about 50 minutes without saying he would sign the spending bill. Speaking to reporters earlier, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump intends to sign the spending bill on Friday or possibly Saturday.

In a statement issued as Trump continued to speak in the Rose Garden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called Trump’s emergency declaration “unlawful.”

“The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution,” the two Democratic leaders said. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

“The President is not above the law,” Pelosi and Schumer added. “The Congress cannot let the President shred the Constitution.”

Authors: DAMIAN PALETTA, JOHN WAGNER AND JOSH DAWSEY, THE WASHINGTON POST

Trump to sign border deal averting shutdown, declare emergency in pursuit of wall funding

President Donald Trump is prepared to sign a massive spending and border security deal, while at the same time declaring a national emergency to get more money to build his border wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday.

McConnell made the announcement on the Senate floor, and told senators to prepare to vote shortly on the legislation that would stave off a government shutdown Friday at midnight.

“The president will sign the bill. We’ll be voting on it shortly,” McConnell said.

McConnell also said he’d told the president he would support the emergency declaration, which would allow the president to circumvent Congress and use the military to build his wall. McConnell has voiced opposition for weeks to the idea of Trump declaring a national emergency.

McConnell’s announcement came after hours of limbo in the Senate as GOP leaders waited for a sign from the White House that Trump would support their hard-fought compromise even though it offers just a fraction of the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for his wall.

McConnell was determined to avoid a repeat of what happened in December just before the government shut down for what turned into a record-long 35-day funding lapse.

Shortly before Christmas the Senate unanimously passed legislation to keep the government open without funding Trump’s border wall, believing the president supported the bill. But Trump turned against the bill amid an intense conservative backlash, and the government shut down a short time later after Democrats refused to support the money Trump wanted for his border wall.

McConnell voiced confidence the legislation would pass the Senate, telling reporters earlier that he has the votes.

His sudden appearance on the floor to announce the president’s assent came in dramatic fashion, as he interrupted Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who was speaking about biofuels at the time, and snapped at the majority leader over the interruption. But McConnell wanted to move quickly as soon as he got assurances from the president.

After the Senate votes on the 1,159-page bill, the House is expected to follow Thursday evening. The legislation would fund nine Cabinet departments and dozens of other agencies through Sept. 30, removing — for now — the threat of another government shutdown and political brinkmanship over Trump’s demands to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The compromise provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fences along the border in Texas, far short of the $5.7 billion Trump had sought for 234 miles of steel walls. The final number for border barriers is also less than deals that were on the table last year before Trump pushed the government into a record-long 35-day shutdown in an unsuccessful attempt to get all the wall money he wants.

Trump has long threatened a national emergency declaration to make good on his promise of building walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. Pentagon leaders have begun searching accounts that the president could tap to redirect funding for the wall.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said an emergency declaration would be the wrong move. It’s expected to face legal challenges and the House could pass a disapproval resolution that McConnell would be forced to put on the Senate floor, an outcome McConnell had hoped to avoid. McConnell had cautioned Trump privately about the scenario.

Although few were enthused about the concessions both sides made in search of a compromise, lawmakers of both parties were eager to see the package pass so they can move on from months of wrangling over shutdown politics and Trump’s wall.

The legislation was released just before midnight Wednesday, giving lawmakers and the White House very little time to review it before it’s put to a vote. Lawmakers defended the rushed timeline because of the impending deadline they face Friday night at midnight, when funding will expire for the Homeland Security Department and other agencies comprising about a quarter of the federal government — unless Congress and Trump act first.

Some liberals were unhappy with the bill, arguing that no money at all should go to border barriers. They’re also unhappy that overall funding for the Homeland Security Department increases under the bill, and that the legislation does not do more to limit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s detention authority.

Democratic negotiators included language they said should limit ICE’s detention numbers over time, but Republicans say ICE will still have the flexibility to detain as many immigrants as agency officials deem appropriate. Some liberals and immigrant advocates agreed with the GOP assessment.

In a joint statement Thursday, freshman Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan announced their opposition to the legislation, citing Trump’s “weaponization” of federal immigration agencies.

“The Department of Homeland Security does not deserve an increase in funding and that is why we intend to vote no on this funding package,” the four lawmakers wrote.

Liberal opposition did not appear widespread enough to threaten passage of the legislation, and Democratic leaders argued lawmakers should support it as the best deal available under the circumstances.

“The agreement is a reasonable compromise. It provides additional funding for smart, effective border security. It does not fund the president’s wall, but it does fund smart border security initiatives that both parties have always supported,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Most importantly, it will keep our government open.”

Some House Republicans, too, had been waiting for a solid assurance from Trump before they would agree to vote for the bill.

“I’m still reviewing and awaiting the president’s response,” Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said Thursday. “I need to see enthusiastic support.”

John Wagner contributed to this report

Authors: ERICA WERNER, DAMIAN PALETTA AND SEUNG MIN KIM, THE WASHINGTON POST

Gallery+Story: Thousands ‘March for Truth’ in Response to President Trump’s Visit

Dressed in warm winter gear, and fighting wind and cold temperatures thousands drove, Ubered, Lyfted, and walked to gather next to Bowie High School, for the March for Truth -in protest of President Donald Trump’s visit to the borderland on Monday.

Many in the crowd held colorful signs that varied from Basta Trump (Stop Trump), to We Don’t Need a Border Wall. Others illustrated Trump’s hair disheveled by wind; and at the rendezvous point, at Chalio Acosta Park, a large inflated balloon showcased the president dressed in a clansman outfit.

The March for Truth, led by the El Paso Women’s March, in conjunction with the Border Network for Human Rights and 45 more organizations, began just a mile east from the El Paso County Coliseum, where President Donald Trump would make his appearance.

With the backdrop of the U.S. Border behind them; and the sunset of the Franklin Mountains in front former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke and newly elected U.S. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar spoke to the crowd.

“We have had a difficult two years El Paso,” Escobar said. “We have been at the center of the politics of cruelty. Politics that have ripped children from the arms of their mothers. Politics that have been preventing asylum seekers from seeking refuge on this very soil. Politics of cruelty that have imprisoned children in Tornillo. And are we angry? You’re damn right we are angry.”

Cheers and applause erupted.

Additional speakers at the March included former State Senator Wendy Davis; Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights; Ruben Garcia, Director of the Annunciation House; Linda Rivas, and Claudia Yoli Ferla, a DACA Dreamer who was brought here illegally as a child by her mother in the hopes of seeking a better life.

“In El Paso she was a waitress, a cook, a dishwasher a caregiver, a school crossing guard – you name it,” Ferla said. “She was everything and anything she needed to be proudly so that I could be provided with a normal childhood despite being undocumented. […]So when this man (Trump), comes into mine, yours and our community, to tell us everything like lies and hate – I am reminded of the root of my power – my mother’s love. My mother’s dreams. And together in comunidad we have the power to also fight back – because when they hurt one of us – they hurt all of us.”

With the crowd pumped, event speakers led the march down Delta Drive, and into Chalio Acosta Park where mariachis and several other musicians welcomed the large crowd.  Then, O’Rourke took the stage.

“The city has been one of the safest in the United States of America,” He said. “For 20 years and counting it was safe long before a wall was built here in 2008. In fact, a little less safe after the wall was built. We can show, as we make our stand here together tonight, that walls do not make us safer. Walls will require us to take someone’s property – their house, their farm, their ranch. We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”

In his speech, O’Rourke mentioned the history of El Paso, including the story of Thelma White, who was denied admission into Texas Western University in 1954 because she was black. White hired attorney Thurgood Marshall, and in 1955 U.S. District Judge R.E. Thomason ruled in favor or white, allowing her and in turn – other black students admission to higher education in El Paso.

O’Rouke told the story of the 1949 Bowie Bears Baseball Team who won the championship in Austin after witnessing racism at the hotels and restaurants; He told the story of World War I Veteran Marcelino Serna, a U.S. Army Pvt, who became a U.S. citizen in 1924.

Serna was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The port of entry between Tornillo and Guadalupe Mexico was named in his honor. O’Rourke then pointed to the park across the way, named after the World War II Veterans Company E – many of them who were seniors from Bowie High school who served in France, Italy and North Africa.

“Here in the largest bi-national community, in the western hemisphere, 2.5 million people; two countries; speaking two languages and two cultures and two histories – who come together and are joined – not separated – by the Rio Grande River. We are forming something far greater and more powerful than the sum of people; or the sum of our parts. We have so much to give and so much to show the rest of the country and we are doing it right now.”

Just after 7 p.m., through gusts of wind, President Trump’s introductory song, the Rolling Stone’s, “Sympathy for the Devil,” could be heard. It was followed by Trump’s voice that echoed and the cheers and shouts could be heard from the inside the El Paso County Coliseum just a short distance away.

O’Rourke and march supporters were not deterred as they cheered and chanted, “Si se Puede,” and “Beto! Beto!” and “USA! USA!” O’Rourke then called for immigration reform to include safety for asylum seekers, citizenship for Dreamers and their parents, investment in better infrastructure for the personnel and the ports of entry.

Both the march and the rally come days after President Trump incorrectly claimed during the State of the Union on February 7, after it was delayed a week due to the Government shutdown, that El Paso was considered at one point, “one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities” and that the Border Wall El Paso was now one of the safest cities in nation.

The border wall that Trump referred to as a recent barrier in his State of the Union, was a bipartisan decision made in 2006, during the George W. Bush Administration.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 replaced wired fencing along Tecate and Calexico, California; Douglas, Ariz., Columbus, New Mexico to ten miles east of El Paso, Texas; and Del Rio, Texas to five miles southeast of Eagle Pass, Texas; and 15 miles northwest of Laredo, Texas to Brownsville Texas.

The act also called for ground-sensors, satellites, radar coverage and additional means of technology with the use of more effective personnel along the southern border.

Additionally, El Paso was considered among the safest cities in the nation prior to the implementation of the Secure Fence Act according to FBI crime statistics.

Photos by author & Steve Zimmerman – El Paso Herald Post

Gallery+Video+Info: President Trump’s Rally, March for Truth, O’Rourke’s Speech

As President Donald J. Trump visited El Paso for a rally at the County Coliseum and 40+ groups, Veronica Escobar, Beto O’Rourke held a march in response; we here at the El Paso Herald Post provided coverage of both events.

Archived streams for both President Trump’s remarks, as well as those by the invited guests of the rally are available below.

A full gallery of both events is updated and live as well.

Crew: Darren Hunt & Andres Acosta
Crew: Alex Hinojosa & Steve Zimmerman

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of 135p: El Paso Trump supporters chanting ‘USA!’ while waiting in line.

Mariachis performing at ‘March for Truth’

Slideshow of O’Rouke speaking at “March for Truth” Rally

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