*News Article from Ryan Hill (K-Fox 14)
Organizers for local immigrant advocacy group gathered at the headquarters for the Border Network for Human Rights on Piedras Avenue to discuss their meeting with Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, Kevin McAleenan.
“We still do not believe that in this conversation we talked about true solution for maintaining families truly together,” Linda Rivas, executive director for Las Americas, said.
Their hour-long discussion focused on what is being done to resolve the issue of detention and separation of families, asylum and President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.
Rivas told KFOX14 the groups received some clarification on how policies and procedures like reports of turning away asylum seekers at the ports of entry are able to happen.
“It’s something that I think was very important is that remember when they’re doing the turn-backs at the bridge — which they did confirm as a borderwide policy — they’re then employing agents to go to the middle of the bridge (to) turn families back,” Rivas said.
Rivas and other activists were also given an indication that the president’s zero-tolerance policy could be re-enacted.
“He boasted about the reunification of 539 children because they stop prosecution. And they were able to reunite the kids that were just in the holding facilities with the parents that they chose to know want to prosecute,” Rivas said. “So it seems to be contradictory but, the thing is he also made it clear that it’s temporary. And they’re just waiting for resources (to) be able to fully enforce the law.”
KFOX14 was given a statement from McAleenan about Tuesday’s meeting.
“I appreciate the opportunity … to meet and listen to those who have a stake in our mission,” said McAleenan. “Today’s engagement was a productive exchange.”
The commissioner also met with officers and agents in the El Paso area to get their feedback on current operations and challenges they face as they work to facilitate travel and trade and secure the border.
The group also had concern and confusion over the reuniting of families who were separated.
“They were separated by our government by the zero-tolerance policy, and they want to get back together with their kids. Then, HHS has to go through a vetting process,” Rivas said.
“I don’t know how long that vetting process is.”