Ana Reza has served as bridge chaplain for the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande for about three years. The bridge chaplain moves back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico to greet incoming asylum seekers or immigrants seeking legal entry into the U.S.
“I do want people to know how grateful we are in everything we’ve done so far and we look forward to build new relationships and to continue to build the new relationships we have now,” Reza said. “The need is there.”
Sometimes Reza sees up to 900 people a day coming across the border. “It’s a lot of work. Pray for us that we be able to continue to provide a safe space because if it wasn’t for the shelters, Border Patrol would just drop them off at the airport and we see how that’s going,” Reza said.
Fidel Pérez made his way from Durango, Mexico, to Juárez and then to Chaparral, New Mexico, in 1970. He was cleaning yards and working in the agricultural fields of nearby Anthony when border patrol officials arrested him. When they asked why he had come to the United States, he replied, “Because I’m hungry! And it’s easier here to make money for tortillas than it is back in Mexico.”
Later, after he’d married an American, he returned to Chaparral. It was one of many informal communities known as colonias, a word that, in the Southwest borderlands, connotes just the kind of place where he’d landed: a rural unincorporated settlement populated almost entirely by Mexican immigrants and lacking such amenities as paved roads, electricity, water systems, wastewater treatment and decent housing.
This story is the work of Searchlight New Mexico and is republished with permission.
DEL RIO 一 U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday sent a message to migrants, particularly Haitians, attempting to enter the country through the southwest border: “People coming to the United States illegally will be returned, your journey will not succeed.”
Mayorkas’ comments in Del Rio come as lawmakers and immigrants rights advocates denounced the treatment of some Haitians by Border Patrol agents. Images and videos taken by journalists and widely shared on social media show agents on horseback charging and herding migrants attempting to cross the Rio Grande, including an agent swinging his reins toward a migrant.
ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. Just days after he took office in 2017, President Donald Trump set out to make good on his campaign pledge to halt illegal immigration. In a pair of executive orders, he ordered “all legally available resources” to be shifted to border detention facilities and called for hiring 10,000 new immigration officers. The logistical challenges were daunting, but as luck would have it, Immigration and Customs Enforcement already had a partner on its payroll: McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm brought on under the Obama administration to help engineer an “organizational transformation” in the ICE division charged with deporting migrants who are in the United States unlawfully.
From 2009 to 2014, at least 214 complaints were filed against federal agents for abusing or mistreating migrant children. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s records, only one employee was disciplined as a result of a complaint. The department’s records, which have alarmed advocates for migrants given the more aggressive approach to the treatment of minors at the border under the current administration, emerged as part of a federal lawsuit seeking the release of the names of the accused agents. Last month, attorneys for DHS argued before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that disclosing the names of the federal agents would infringe on their right to privacy. A district judge had earlier ordered the department to make the names public.
This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast. When they arrived at the U.S. border June 1 seeking asylum, 5-year-old Esdras and the woman he called his “mamita” were split up by immigration officers. “I cried so much,” Marta Alicia Mejia said. “I thought, ‘My God, why would they separate me from the boy?’ ”
Three weeks later, a federal judge ruled that the government must reunify the migrant families it separated at the border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy between April and June 2018.
One morning this spring in the parking lot of a mall south of Tucson, Arizona, four people gathered around a gray minivan as the sun spilled into the still-cold desert air. Bags loaded with toys and stuffed animals filled the trunk of the van — donated by the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans, one of dozens of humanitarian aid groups working to help migrants in the Arizona Borderlands. The donations were destined for an aid station for migrants in Nogales, a city that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border just 40 minutes south of here. This story originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission. Shura Wallin, a petite woman in her 70s with an animated face and boundless energy, has led weekly volunteer trips to the aid station, or comedor, for more than 20 years.
A group of armed, masked vigilantes who have held those crossing the border, including those seeking asylum, until Border Patrol arrived has brought national attention to New Mexico and the ongoing border debate. The far-right group which calls itself United Constitutional Patriots recorded members detaining men, women and children who crossed the U.S./Mexico border in New Mexico and broadcast it on Facebook last week. Their actions drew immediate condemnation from a range of New Mexico elected officials, including Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas, who said individuals “should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement.”
A spokesman for the governor’s office told NM Political Report they have been in contact with the AG, state police and local police about the group to stay informed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection wrote on Twitter, “#CBP does not endorse or condone private groups or organizations that take enforcement matters into their own hands. Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved.”
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gavin Clarkson, meanwhile, appeared in a Facebook video with the group.
“Temporary immigration detention facilities to open in El Paso, Rio Grande Valley” 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. El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley are less than two weeks away from the scheduled opening of temporary detention centers that will each house up to 500 migrants who have crossed the border to seek asylum. The facilities, commonly referred to as a “tent cities,” are the federal government’s response to the ongoing crush of migrants, mainly from Central America, who continue to cross into Texas after traveling through Mexico. “U.S. Customs & Border Protection urgently needs to provide for additional shelter capacity to accommodate individuals in CBP’s custody throughout the southwest border,” CBP said in a written statement. “The overwhelming number of individuals arriving daily to the U.S. has created an immediate need for additional processing space in El Paso, Texas and Donna, Texas.”
On Thursday, a U.S. Border Patrol official who asked not to be named said the facility would likely be at the agency’s station in northeast El Paso near U.S. Highway 54.
“Federal government to accelerate Customs and Border Protection redeployment amid migrant surge” 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. President Donald Trump’s administration said Monday it will begin returning more migrants to Mexico after they apply for asylum in the U.S. and ordered Customs and Border Protection officials to speed up the redeployment of agents to help the Border Patrol process a growing surge of migrants arriving at the border. Last week, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said 750 CBP agents would be pulled from their regular positions at the ports of entry in El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego to assist Border Patrol. On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen told CBP to accelerate the reallocation and consider reassigning more officers. “CBP is directed to explore raising that target, is authorized to exceed it, and shall notify the Secretary if reassignments are planned to exceed 2,000 personnel,” the DHS said in a news release.