ICE agrees to release 2 Indian hunger strikers from El Paso-area detention facilities

Two asylum seekers from India who have been on a hunger strike at El Paso area immigration detention facilities for 75 days will be released soon, their lawyers said. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have agreed to release Ajay Kumar, 33, and Gurjant Singh, 24, after they complete several days of refeeding at the agency’s El Paso Processing Center, lawyers Linda Corchado and Jessica Miles said. “After he signed his release (documents), Ajay said namaste to each officer and looked at me with tears in his eyes,” Corchado said on Twitter. “’This road was long ma’am,’ he said. His is one voice in a broken system.”

Kumar and Singh were among four Indian asylum seekers who began hunger strikes on July 9 at the Otero County Processing Center, an ICE facility in southern New Mexico just outside El Paso that’s operated by a for-profit company.

Beto O’Rourke takes campaign into Mexico to spotlight ‘cruelty’ of Trump immigration policies

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke took his campaign to Mexico on Sunday to denounce Trump administration policies that he called cruel and counter to U.S. values. O’Rourke met with asylum seekers at a burrito restaurant and at Juárez’s largest migrant shelter. He criticized several policies: metering, which strictly limits the number of migrants who can approach ports of entry to seek asylum; Migrant Protection Protocols, the “remain in Mexico” policy that has sent thousands of asylum seekers back across the border while their immigration cases are decided by U.S. courts; and family separation. “We put them in this precarious position, we have caused this suffering. We also have the opportunity to make this better and to make this right,” O’Rourke said after hearing stories from several migrants.

Fate of pregnant women at border sparks congresswoman’s outrage

At least nine pregnant migrant women have been sent from El Paso to Ciudad Juárez under the Trump administration’s controversial “remain in Mexico” policy for some asylum seekers, then taken out of the program and allowed to go free in the United States after court hearings. The practice of sending pregnant women to Ciudad Juárez, which has averaged five murders per day in recent weeks, drew criticism at a recent congressional hearing. Kevin McAleenan, the Department of Homeland Security acting secretary, said at the May 22 hearing that Border Patrol agents have the discretion to exempt pregnant women from the Migrant Protection Protocols program but are not required to do so. “This administration is putting pregnant women in danger. Do you know how dangerous it is to be sent to Juárez, Mexico?” Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-California, asked McAleenan at the hearing.

Guatemalan family first to be deported from U.S. in Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ program

A 30-year-old Guatemalan woman and her two sons on Friday became the first people to be deported from the United States while taking part in a controversial Trump administration program that requires some migrants to remain in Mexico while their U.S. immigration cases are heard. “Over there (in Guatemala), if they do something to me my children have somewhere to go. Over here (in Mexico,) they have nothing if something happens to me,” Karla told immigration judge Nathan Herbert in El Paso. Borderzine is not using her full name because she said her family faces threats in Guatemala. More: On Mexico’s southern border, migrants seek to survive one day at a time

‘Uncaged Art’ exhibit gives voice to migrant children detained in Tornillo tent city
Karla, her 9-year-old son Eddin and her 11-month-old son Ian entered the United States in El Paso on March 25, according to court documents.

Sharp enrollment losses in lower grades raise more concerns about El Paso population growth

The number of El Paso County children enrolling in kindergarten through second grade has dropped precipitously in the last seven years, further evidence that El Paso’s once-robust population growth has stalled. El Paso County schools – including both traditional school districts and charter schools – had 34,603 students enrolled in kindergarten, first grade and second grade this year, according to data released in March by the Texas Education Agency. That’s down more than 5,000 from the 2011-12 enrollment in those grades, according to TEA records, a decline of 13%. Related: El Paso population growth rate hits 8 decade low, census estimates show
Only one traditional school district in El Paso County – Canutillo Independent School District in the western part of the county – has seen an increase in K-2 population in the past seven years. Canutillo’s K-2 population grew by 88 students to 1,345 this year, or 7%.

El Paso population growth rate hits 8 decade low, census estimates show

El Paso County is in the midst of its slowest population growth rate in 80 years, driven largely by a flight of residents to other U.S. communities from the Texas border county, new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show. The county’s population in 2018 was an estimated 840,758, up from just over 800,000 at the time of the 2010 census. That means El Paso County has had an average annual population growth rate of 0.5% since the last census, compared to 0.6% nationally and 1.5% in Texas. The 0.5% annual population growth since the 2010 census is the slowest rate of growth since the period between 1930 and 1940, during the Great Depression, when El Paso County lost population at a rate of about 0.6% a year. El Paso’s annual growth rate between 2000 and 2010 was 1.4%, almost three times the current growth rate.

Texas moves to prohibit Tigua casino gambling in El Paso

On the heels of a major victory in a decades-old dispute over gambling conducted by El Paso’s Tigua Indians, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is asking a federal judge for an injunction that would ban or greatly restrict the gaming now conducted at the tribe’s Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. Such an injunction could lead to the closure or major downsizing of the Tigua peoples’ Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, the border tribe’s most lucrative enterprise and the focal point of a legal dispute with the state that dates to 1993. The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday recommended that U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez issue an injunction that prohibits the Tigua “from engaging in, permitting, promoting, or operating gambling activities on the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s reservation that violate one or more of the following” Texas laws and regulations regarding gambling. “This includes, but is not limited to, the one-touch machines described in the (Feb. 14 order issued by Martinez) and the live-called bingo described in the order.”

The state’s latest lawsuit seeking to stop gambling on Tigua land was set to go to trial on March 4, but Martinez on Feb.

Photo gallery: Migrant children draw their gratitude for El Paso’s kindness

Since early October, the El Paso region has seen an influx of asylum seekers released to the community after processing by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Thousands of people – mostly families from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but also from Cuba, Nicaragua and other nations  – have passed interviews in which they have shown credible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. They now face an immigration court process that could take years to determine their fate. But for the time being, they are legally entitled to live in the United States. Upon release by ICE in El Paso, their first stop is a “hospitality center” run by a nonprofit called Annunciation House, which has provided services to migrants for more than 40 years.

In El Paso, young Latinos are flexing their voting muscle

Voters under age 30 are playing an increasingly crucial role in El Paso County elections, a sign that younger Latinos are becoming more engaged in the political process in the Donald Trump era. Voters under age 30 accounted for almost 17 percent of El Paso voters in the 2018 midterm election, up from 8 percent in the 2014 midterm. Put another way, more than one in every six voters in El Paso this year was under age 30, compared to one in 13 in 2014. Related story:  Here’s what the young voter surge looked like at UT El Paso
The 2018 election featured an El Pasoan, Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, at the top of a statewide ticket for the first time in Texas history. O’Rourke’s presence, combined with President Trump’s deep unpopularity among Latino voters, led to El Paso more than doubling its turnout between midterm elections, going from 82,000 in 2014 to 203,000 in 2018.

El Pasoans rush to respond with compassion as ICE leaves migrants in the streets

EL PASO – Chaos loomed when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents dropped about 100 Central American migrants at the Greyhound station of this border city without notice Friday night. The families were in a strange city, many with little money and limited ability to contact loved ones for help. Then they were helped by angels. Ruben Garcia, the founder and director of the Annunciation House program that has housed and fed migrants for more than 40 years, knew since Wednesday that ICE planned to begin a new policy of essentially dumping migrants on border city streets. The migrants had been detained for several days in what are supposed to be short-term holding cells along the border in El Paso, and border authorities are struggling to cope with a fresh surge of Central American families coming to the United States to flee poverty, violence and corruption in their home countries.