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

ICE agents immigrationBy Julián Aguilar, The Texas Tribune
Hundreds of agents will be pulled from ports of entry to help El Paso Border Patrol process undocumented immigrants” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. *correction appended EL PASO — 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. Shortly after McAleenan’s press conference, the Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector announced that it has begun releasing migrants on their own recognizance because it “has experienced a significant rise in the number of family units arrested throughout the sector.” As many as 40 percent of the El Paso sector’s agents have been asked to help with transportation, processing or providing medical care to the migrants, which McAleenan said makes the border more vulnerable because those agents aren’t patrolling. McAleenan said the crisis is a result of increasing migration from Central America — he said poverty is driving most of the migrants north — and U.S. laws that prevent families and unaccompanied minors from being detained for prolonged periods of time after turning themselves in to Border Patrol. He called on Congress to change the laws in order to help end the crisis and give asylum seekers with legitimate claims their day in court. He said the agency needs the ability to detain families together for four to eight weeks, enough time for a judge to evaluate their asylum claims and decide whether to deport them or let them stay in the U.S. “They live with uncertainty for years at a time because the system is broken and overwhelmed,” he said. “Our courts tell us that 10-15 percent of Central American migrants have a legitimate asylum claim at the end of the process,” he said. “Those people won’t even see a judge now for two to five years or more to have that asylum claim adjudicated.” The reassignment of CBP agents marks the second shift in personnel away from their primary duties in less than a week. Over the weekend, the Border Patrol shut down its roadside checkpoints within the El Paso sector so that agents assigned to those posts could instead help process migrants. It’s unclear how long either reassignment will last. Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of undocumented immigrants held in the Border Patrol’s El Paso sector. The correct number is about 3,500.
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Despite history, special needs children still sent to controversial Texas facility

special needsThe Shiloh Treatment Center near Manvel, Texas has a history of deaths and abuse of special needs children placed in its care, but at least seven school districts in the Lone Star state have continued sending students there, according to an investigation by Reveal. At least four children have died while at the facility, while even more were allegedly injured or sexually abused. In July, a federal judge ordered Shiloh to stop injecting immigrant children in its care with powerful psychiatric drugs without their consent. However, attorneys say the practice is still happening. Read more about why Texas children are still being sent to this controversial facility at Reveal. 

Federal hearing on DACA in Texas

Court battles over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) have left the program in limbo. On Friday, a federal judge in DC ruled against the Trump administration’s efforts to end the immigration program. Now, a federal judge in Texas is holding hearings on a case that would shut down the DACA program. Vox reports that the Texas judge is an immigration hawk likely to rule in favor of ending DACA. That ruling could leave DACA under mutually contradictory orders from two federal judges. Vox explains the legal limbo that could end with the Texas judge’s ruling.

Texas sued by cities over immigration law

TexasFollowing the passage of Texas SB4, which challenged sanctuary cities in the Lone Star state, a growing number of municipalities are suing the state, claiming the new law is unconstitutional and a threat to public safety. Texas law enforcement officers believe they shouldn’t be compelled to enforce federal immigration law, which SB4 requires. USA Today has more on the state of Texas being sued by its own cities.

The unintended consequences of Texas’ crackdown on sanctuary cities

Texas A new Texas law penalizes law enforcement personnel who don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Immigrant rights activists are concerned that Texas law enforcement officers will not only engage in racial profiling, but may also place a higher priority on immigration violations than other, more serious crimes. Is Texas Senate Bill 4 having unintended consequences for police, deputies and other law enforcement officers? Priscilla Alvarez takes a look in this story at The Atlantic.

ACLU issues ‘travel advisory’ for Texas

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a “travel alert” for anyone planning to go to Texas in the near future. The ACLU warns that travelers’ constitutional rights could be violated if stopped by law enforcement. According to the ACLU, “The alert comes amid the passing of a Texas law known as SB4. The law gives a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop, leading to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be ‘foreign’ based on how they look or sound.” Here’s the complete “travel advisory” from the ACLU.

Federal Court Sides with States Against Obama Administration in Immigration Reform Fight

In a decision that affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling regarding the Obama Administration’s expanded immigration reforms, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans ruled that no immigration changes can be implemented involving President Obama’s November executive immigration order. The ruling stems from a federal lawsuit seeking to block the Administration’s reforms that would allow millions of immigrants in the country illegally deportation protection and the ability to obtain work permits. The original case, being heard in Brownsville, Texas by United States District Judge Andrew Hanen, was brought by 26 states against the Obama Administration. The states allege that the immigration executive order is unconstitutional and that each state would incur undue financial burdens in order to carry out the changes. Judge Hanen issued a hold on the immigration reforms and barred any of the Administration’s immigration expansions from being implemented until a resolution in the case is found. The Obama Administration, arguing that the states have no legal authority to sue the government over policies that involves the federal control of the country’s borders, sought a stay from Judge Hanen’s order in the 5th Circuit court in New Orleans. The stay was upheld in a 2-to-1 decision by the New Orleans federal court. In a statement regarding the order, White House spokesperson Brandi Hoffine spoke out against the decision, saying “today, two judges of the Fifth Circuit chose to misinterpret the facts and the law in denying the government’s request for a stay” and defended President Obama’s executive order as “fully consistent with the law.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement as well praising the ruling as “a victory for those committed to preserving the law of rule in America” and criticized the “brazen lawlessness that has become a trademark of the Obama Administration.” As the legal battle over immigration continues on each side, it is unclear if the decision will be made before President Obama leaves office in 2017. We would like to hear from you about your thoughts on the immigration battle. Let us know your opinion on the ruling, the lawsuit and each side’s stance on our social media pages: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Source: The Washington Post