Border & Immigration | KERA News

Border & Immigration

Border Wall Money Would Be Better Spent On U.S. Infrastructure, Colin Allred Says

Jan 8, 2019
Rep. Colin Allred is among nine Texas freshmen in Congress. He represents the 32nd Congressional district in North Texas.
Bill Zeeble / KERA News

It’s a fraught time for these newly-elected members of Congress to come to Washington, including for Dallas Democrat Colin Allred.

Aerial view of the tent city at the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry in Tornillo on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. The shelter opened in June to house undocumented immigrant minors who crossed the border without a parent or guardian.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

After more than six months of serving as a symbol of President Trump’s hardline immigration policies, the detention center for young migrants at Tornillo is on the brink of closing for good.

“We expect the vast majority of [unaccompanied alien children] currently at Tornillo to be released to a suitable sponsor by the end of the month,” said Mark Weber, spokesperson for the federal Health and Human Services agency, which oversees the care and detention of undocumented minor children. 

Updated at 10:38 p.m. ET

Democrats again rejected President Trump's demand for a wall on the Southern border following an Oval Office address Tuesday night in which Trump insisted the wall is the only solution to an influx of migration from Mexico and Central America.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks at the Republican Party of Texas convention in San Antonio on Friday, June 15, 2018.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick missed the first day of the Texas Legislature on Tuesday to attend a border security meeting at the White House.

Patrick, who attended a pre-session social event Monday evening in Austin and is scheduled for two public addresses on Wednesday, “is not going to be able to join us today,” said state Sen. Jane Nelson, a Flower Mound Republican, who took the dais in Patrick’s stead.

President Donald Trump arrives at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston on Oct. 22, 2018. Trump is in Texas to attend a rally at the Toyota Center.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

President Donald Trump is headed to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced the trip Monday morning, saying Trump will visit the border "to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis."

No additional details were available, including whether Trump would visit the part of the border in Texas. But the Federal Aviation Administration has issued an alert for "VIP movement" near McAllen on Thursday.

Updated at 1:25 p.m. ET

The ongoing government shutdown didn't stop the Justice Department's public affairs office from issuing statements this week about cases involving America's Southern border.

Officials in Washington, D.C., instructed field office workers on Dec. 21 that the public affairs unit would "only issue press releases to the extent it is necessary to ensure public safety or national security, such as a terrorist attack or something of similar magnitude."

From Texas Standard:

Our attention turns once again to the Texas side of the Rio Grande where President Donald Trump has doubled down on his plan build a wall along the border with Mexico. Over the weekend, Trump said he may declare a national emergency to secure the funding for the wall after White House officials and top legislative aids failed to reach a compromise about it, and also failed to end the partial government shutdown.

While politicians hash out immigration policy in Washington, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling deals with the day-to-day impact of immigration in the Rio Grande Valley – one of Texas' busiest border-crossing regions. Darling says he sees several hundred asylum seekers per day come to respite centers in the area. And while media have focused on the Central American migrant caravans moving through Mexico, he says they've missed what's actually happening at the border.

The partial government shutdown is entering its third week and it’s not helping the current backlog of immigration cases across the country.

 


The Trump administration deployed 2,800 troops to the Texas-Mexico border in October to confront a migrant caravan moving north from Central America. And by December, most of those soldiers were sent home, but border cities like McAllen are still dealing with the aftermath of the military presence.

 


Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

The White House is planning a media blitz as President Trump pushes for a wall along the Southern border, which congressional Democrats have repeatedly rebuffed. This week's events involving the president come as a partial shutdown of the federal government drags into its third week with no apparent end in sight to the impasse.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen traveled to Texas and Arizona on Friday and Saturday, citing an "unprecedented" increase in the apprehensions of families and unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The system is clearly overwhelmed," Nielsen said in a statement. Nearly 50,000 family units were caught by the U.S. Border Patrol in October and November, according to Department of Homeland Security data, a fourfold increase over the same period last year.

From Texas Standard:

Over the weekend, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, began releasing large numbers of mostly Central American migrants from detention facilities in El Paso. The releases have continued, with the agency letting 500 migrants go Wednesday.

EL PASO – The immigration detention center for undocumented migrant youth at Tornillo, Texas will remain open into next year, the federal Health and Human Services agency confirmed Thursday.

For the third day in a row, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials released hundreds of migrant asylum-seekers at a park near a bus station in downtown El Paso. The comparisons to Mary and Joseph wandering the roads of Bethlehem seeking shelter are unavoidable for dozens of volunteers who have stepped in to help. Especially on Christmas Day.

"I kept having the phrase go through my head last night, 'There's no room at the inn, we've got to make some,'" Kathryn Schmidt, a social worker who co-founded the Borderland Rainbow Center, an LGBTQ community center, told NPR.

In this Jan. 25, 2017, file photo, an agent from the border patrol, observes near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, N.M.
Associated Press

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ordered medical checks on every child in its custody after an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died, marking the second death of an immigrant child in the agency's care this month.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET Wednesday

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala has died in government custody, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says.

The boy died just before midnight on Monday, at a hospital in Alamogordo, N.M. He is the second child this month to die in CBP custody after being apprehended by the agency.

The Guatemalan Foreign Service has identified the boy as Felipe Gomez Alonso, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

Updated at 8:32 p.m. ET

A partial government shutdown beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday looks certain after both the House and Senate adjourned until noon on Saturday without an agreement on spending acceptable to President Trump that would also pass in the Senate.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Southwest Key Programs, an Austin-based nonprofit that currently houses 3,644 migrant children at more than a dozen facilities across Texas, according to The New York Times.

Honduran migrants stand in line for breakfast inside an empty warehouse that opened its doors to migrants in downtown Tijuana, Mexico, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. The owner opened the warehouse for two months, after it had been empty for years.
Associated Press

Children torn from their parents, refugees turned away, tear gas fired on asylum-seekers, and a president who says he's making good on promises to protect the nation's borders. In a breathless 2018, they were just a handful of headlines on immigration, one of the year's most dominant issues.

Decades after the U.S. stopped institutionalizing kids because large and crowded orphanages were causing lasting trauma, it is happening again. The federal government has placed most of the 14,300 migrant toddlers, children and teens in its care in detention centers and residential facilities packed with hundreds, or thousands, of children.

A federal judge on Wednesday struck down the bulk of a recent White House policy that made it more difficult for victims of domestic and gang violence to seek asylum in the United States.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

The threat of a partial government shutdown this weekend may be diminishing.

The Senate passed a short-term measure Wednesday night to keep the federal government open into 2019. The House is expected to take up the bill on Thursday. Funding currently expires at midnight on Friday.

In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo, President Trump speaks during a meeting with Democratic leaders, where he said he would be "proud" to have a shutdown to get Congress to approve a $5 billion down payment to fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall.
Associated Press

President Donald Trump appeared to back off his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, signaling for the first time that he might be open to a deal that would avoid a partial government shutdown.

News last week that a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died shortly after being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection has brought the nation’s focus back to the U.S.-Mexico border. That includes the tent city in Tornillo, Texas: a facility the federal government erected in June to house migrant children who recently crossed the border. The Tornillo site was supposed to be temporary, but it’s continued to expand. Over the weekend, a congressional delegation toured the site and called on the government to shut it down.

 

 


 

Girl's Death In Texas Shows Communication Issues On U.S.-Mexico Border

Dec 18, 2018
Elvira Choc, 59, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal's grandmother, rests her head on her hand in front of her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The 7-year old girl died in a Texas hospital after being taken into custody by border patrol.
Associated Press

Shortly before a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died in U.S. custody, her father signed a form stating that his daughter was in good health. But it's unclear how much the man understood on the form, which was written in English and read to him in Spanish by Border Patrol agents. His native language is the Mayan tongue known as Q'eqchi'. 

From Texas Standard:

When it comes to shifting racial and ethnic demographics in Texas, often the first thing that comes to mind is the state's growing Latino population. In fact, one of the fastest-growing racial groups in Texas is Asian Americans. Two Texas cities, Houston and Arlington, have some of the country's largest Vietnamese populations, and those communities grew quickly during the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. But reporting from The Atlantic last week revealed that the Trump administration is looking to deport some Vietnamese immigrants who've committed crimes in the U.S.; some of them immigrated here after fleeing Vietnam during the war.

Ruben Garcia, the director of El Paso's Annunciation House, speaks to reporters on Dec. 15, 2018, about Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year old Guatemalan girl who died while in federal custody earlier this month.
Julián Aguilar / The Texas Tribune

The family of a 7-year old Guatemalan girl who died after being taken into the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol asked Saturday for the public to cease speculating on what caused the death until an investigation into the tragedy is complete, but also disputed reports that she had gone for days without food or water before entering federal custody.

Updated at 4:57 p.m. ET Friday

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who crossed the southern border into the United States illegally earlier this month died of dehydration and shock after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in New Mexico.

Updated 5:25 p.m.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent who confessed to shooting four women in the head and leaving their bodies on rural Texas roadsides now faces the death penalty, a prosecutor said Wednesday.


The Austin-based nonprofit that houses more migrant children than any other organization in the country plans to hire an independent attorney who will conduct a "comprehensive internal review" of issues outlined in an investigative story by The New York Times.

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