Sanctuary is in the fabric of El Paso, not the label

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By John M. Gonzales and Alex Hinojosa
There are 118 so-called “sanctuary cities in the United States, but applying the term to El Paso is like calling Texas a little bit country.

With one in four city residents living a bi-national life to manage and work in Mexican factories across the border, traffic snakes bumper-to-bumper every day through checkpoints from neighboring Ciudad Juarez.

Twenty-five percent of residents are immigrants — with an estimated 3 percent of the state’s unauthorized immigrants Texas-wide residing in El Paso County.

David-Saucedo-wall-quoteYet, like other jurisdictions that inherited the sanctuary city tag originally used by immigration control groups to create an image of blanket refuge, El Paso is being told to uphold a law that strikes to the core of its identity.

“We’re allowing D.C., and sometimes Austin, to dictate what border policy should be,” said David Saucedo, a mayoral candidate who is pitted against the more politically experienced Dee Margo in a June 10 runoff.

“We need to come together and dictate that narrative,” Saucedo said.

The truth is El Paso is neither lawless, nor a refuge for unauthorized immigrants.

A strikingly low 17 people were murdered in El Paso in the last year, making it one of the safest cities in the country. And local deputies have handed over known criminals when they pop up on federal immigration databases for deportation.

“We don’t want a federal mandate, or a state mandate, to overshadow somebody’s confidence in coming to our organization to report a crime,” El Paso County Sheriff Commander Robert Flores told Borderzine on camera.

Margo declined several request by Borderzine to appear on camera. He also declined a request by protestors from the Border Network for Human Rights to sign a declaration that he would oppose SB4.

Saucedo had already signed.

But when protestors demonstrated outside Margo’s downtown El Paso campaign office, then took an elevator up to visit him, Margo penned an edited version.

“I was happy to sign the letter opposing any intimidation of immigrant communities,” said Margo in a written statement to Borderzine. In an April interview with the El Paso Times, Margo said he does not support President Trump’s plan to build a border wall.

By the late afternoon, elevator access to Margo’s 16th floor office required a keycard, and the stairwell was locked. A security guard said it was because of the protestors.

This multimedia story was produced for the 2017 Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy.

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