LAREDO, Texas (April 1, 2019) – The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) today implored President Trump and Congress to work together – now – to address the Central American asylum crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“As the crisis of crime and poverty accelerates in Central America, so does the number of Central Americans seeking asylum at the border,” Laredo Mayor and TBC Chairman Pete Saenz said. “This is no surprise; the overcrowding at holding facilities, growing backlog in our courts reviewing these claims, and the quick release of folks with little or no vetting is very troubling. “What’s worse, it has become an open invitation to potential asylum seekers who may not be removed from the U.S., even though they may be in the country unlawfully.
”This is mounting evidence of a broken asylum and immigration system that should have been fixed years ago by politicians in Washington, D.C.,” Saenz noted.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino said, “While the release of thousands of asylum applicants into the community may serve a political goal of providing evidence of an emergency, it ill serves both Americans and those seeking asylum. Congress and the White House need to work together – now – to solve problems instead of agitating to make them worse.”
The majority of persons apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are children and families. Most do not attempt to evade detection, but instead present themselves at ports of entry or seek out U.S. authorities to initiate a request for asylum.
Asylum-seekers requesting protection in the U.S. are acting under a federal law that grants asylum to persons who can prove a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
“Despite President Trump’s assertion, a wall a mile away from the Rio Grande does no good when an asylum seeker can stay in the U.S. pending adjudication of their claim,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said.
To manage the crush of refugees from Central America, CPB announced last week that it will reassign 750 agents working at various U.S.-Mexico ports of entry to help process asylum claims. The reassignment threatens to increase wait times for both travelers and commercial traffic, and endangers the ports where most illegal drugs and contraband enter the U.S.
TBC implores the Trump Administration and Congress to provide the resources necessary to address the crisis growing out of their own strategic error – one they thought would intimidate asylum seekers. The coalition urges federal officials to allocate funding originally earmarked for the border wall to processing asylum applicants more quickly so the current interview and release doesn’t become a draw for all of Central America.
TBC supports smart, effective border enforcement actions that address current security challenges, especially at the ports of entry. This includes reforming America’s broken immigration policies with a common-sense approach that grows the economy through commerce and trade, balances workforce supply and demand, and updates how asylees are processed at the border and away from the border.
TBC also supports increasing resources for alternatives to detention with an emphasis on methods that have drastically reduced flight risk. The coalition supports doubling the number immigration judges, accompanied by significant reforms that promote judicial independence, ensure due process, and provide the necessary procedures, resources, and infrastructure to quickly process these claims.
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About the Texas Border Coalition
The Texas Border Coalition (TBC) is a collective voice of border mayors, county judges, economic development commissions focused on issues that affect 2.5 million people along the Texas-Mexico border region and economically disadvantaged counties from El Paso to Brownsville. TBC is working closely with the state and federal government to educate, advocate, and secure funding for transportation, immigration and border security, workforce development, economic development and health care. For more information, visit the coalition website at www.texasbordercoalition.org. Follow TBC on Facebook and Twitter [#TXBorderCoalition] to keep up to date on all of the latest news about the coalition and its activities.