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.

As costs for detaining migrant children soar, Trump administration draining cash from health, education programs

Costs of detaining migrant children at shelters in Tornillo, Texas, and other locations around the country are skyrocketing, with the Trump administration now saying it may cost $100 million a month just to operate the 3,800-bed tent facility outside of El Paso. The administration has not yet provided an accounting of how much in total it has been spending to detain children who either were separated from their parents or apprehended after crossing the border without a parent or guardian. But information provided so far indicates the amount is substantial, forcing the government to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars targeted for medical research, treatment and other programs so that it can care for a rapidly growing number of children in government custody. I have been writing about these issues for Texas Monthly and the Washington Post since June, when the government opened what was then a 400-bed shelter in Tornillo. While the world’s attention was focused on the controversial family separation policy, less attention was paid to other important changes to policies on how migrant children were treated.

Two young girls dressed up to celebrate the Fourth of July take in the scenic view of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, from Tom Lea Park on Rim Road. Photo credit: Kate Gannon

As migrant crisis hits U.S. border, El Paso keeps it classy

It’s a sweltering summer Sunday night in El Paso, Texas, at the city’s new downtown baseball stadium, where the local Triple-A team, the Chihuahuas, is leading the visiting Tacoma Rainiers at the seventh-inning stretch. As the hammerlock of the day’s 102-degree heat begins to release its grip on this high-desert town, a sellout crowd of 8,607 fans rises to its feet to sing and sway along to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’’ Immediately after, trumpet-charged mariachi music blasts over the sound system and the crowd roars with glee as Chico the Chihuahuas’ mascot dances onto the field, wagging his tail and making the team’s signature “Fear the Ears’’ gesture with his paws. Ah, béisbol  – still America’s pastime in a new America. And if there is a city that characterizes our new America, it’s the very old town of El Paso, circa 1659. I spent a week there this summer studying at the University of Texas at El Paso and its Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy.

The call for humane immigration reform resonates with my Hispanic heritage

SUNLAND PARK, NM – I attended the Solidarity Prayer Service held September 7 here at the border fence that separates Mexico from the U.S. at end of Anapra Road organized by local catholic churches. Marchers came to both sides of the fence. It was heart wrenching to see the small children standing at the fence. They told me they hoped to be able to come to El Paso one day. We should be building bridges not walls.

Catholics gather at the U.S.-Mexico border fence to pray for fair and humane immigration reform

Lea esta historia en español. SUNLAND PARK, NM – With their fingers sticking out through the chain-link border fence from the Mexican side, Johan 10, and his brother Irving, 11, squint their eyes against the penetrating afternoon sun to make out the people who drive up on this side of the fence. About 150 members of area Catholic congregations and the bishops of Ciudad Juarez and El Paso gathered on Saturday, September 7th along the fence that separates two countries in the neighborhood region of Anapra to pray for immigration reform. With leaders of the dioceses of Ciudad Juarez on the other side, and the dioceses of El Paso, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Brownsville, San Angelo, Piedras Negras and San Antonio on this, the U.S. side, the Catholic community showed its support for immigrant human rights by gathering for a solidarity prayer on the border desert. Nuevo Laredo bishop, Gustavo Rodriguez Vega, and archbishop of the San Antonio archdioceses, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, conducted the prayer and said the purpose of the event was to acknowledge the necessity for an ample and fair immigration reform, according to the teachings of the Catholic society.

Los hermanitos Johan,10, e Irving, 11, sonríen cuando hablan de todas las cosas que harán cuando su padre les compre la visa que les prometió. (Vianey Alderete/

Marcha católica al pie de la frontera reza por la reforma inmigratoria

Read this story in English. SUNLAND PARK, NM – Con los dedos enganchados en los diamantes de metal que forman la malla fronteriza, Johan, 10, y su hermano Irving, 11, luchan contra los penetrantes rayos del sol desde el lado mexicano para poder abrir sus ojos y observar en detalle a la gente que ya empieza a llegar por carro de este lado de la frontera. Unos 150 feligreses católicos y los obispos de Ciudad Juárez y El Paso se reunieron el sábado 7 de septiembre junto a la malla que separa dos países en el vecindario Anapra, para orar por la reforma migratoria. Con líderes de la diócesis de Ciudad Juárez del otro lado y las diócesis de El Paso, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Brownsville, San Ángelo, Piedras Negras y San Antonio de este, la comunidad católica mostró  su apoyo por los derechos de los inmigrantes al reunirse en el desierto fronterizo celebrando una misa de solidaridad. Las oraciones fueron dirigidas por el obispo Gustavo Rodríguez Vega de Nuevo Laredo y el arzobispo de la arquidiócesis de San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, quienes mencionaron claramente que el evento era para señalar la necesidad de una amplia y justa reforma migratoria americana, según los principios de la enseñanza social católica.

Border Patrol agents observed the event at Anapra. (Cristina Quinones/

Prayers at the Anapra border fence made immigrant hardship personal for me

SUNLAND PARK, NM – Growing up in El Paso allowed me to journey through many different walks of life. If you live here long enough, you get to experience different cultures. If you stay long enough, you will begin to understand them as well. I attended a gathering at the Anapra fence right on the borderline Sunday, organized by Catholic bishops from border dioceses in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico to pray for immigration reform. People of the Catholic faith gathered on both sides of the border to pray for those who have experienced oppression and hardship while immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

El Paso is one of six sectors where Operation Streamline is enforced. (Christina Marie Duran/

High-cost zero-tolerance strategy shows little effect on illegal immigration

EL PASO — The U.S. government started Operation Streamline a “zero-tolerance” border enforcement strategy, at the Del Rio sector in Texas in 2005 in an attempt to stem the flow of millions of undocumented Mexicans who leave their families and homes every year to cross the border into the U.S.

Operation Streamline (OS) set tougher penalties for illegal immigration. First time offenders serve two to three days in jail while they wait for a trial. These undocumented immigrants are then left with a criminal record and repeat offenders can end up serving several years in prison. “My research continues to show a negative effect within the operation,” said Pia Orrenius, a labor economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “The main motivation for these illegal immigrants to attempt to cross over is money and the pursuit of a better way of living.”

Orrenius visited The University of Texas at El Paso on Sep.

Stricter law enforcement in México and more effective vigilance on the U.S. side of the border enhance security and trade

EL PASO – México is going through a structural change to strengthen government and law enforcement in order to combat crime more effectively and weaken the drug cartels, according to a Mexican government official. México has made great strides recruiting police officers and government workers that are not corrupt to help fight the drug cartels, said Alejandro Poire, a spokesman for the Mexican National Security Council and Cabinet. Speaking to leaders of the public and private sectors of México and the United States gathered August 15 and 16 at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) for the Eighth Annual Border Security Conference, Poire said Mexican courts are now prosecuting criminals more swiftly. “México made a massive Congressional reform in 2007,” he said. “In 2006 México only had 6,500 federal police officers and today there are more than 35,000 federal police officers,” Poire said.

UTEP President, Dr. Diana Natalicio, opens the 8th Border Security Conference. (Luis Hernandez/

8th Border Security Conference examines benefits and dangers along the U.S.-Mexico borderline

EL PASO — Under the umbrella ideal of fostering a new era of bi-national collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico, the University of Texas at El Paso was once again home to the annual Border Security Conference. This two-day event marked the 8th straight year public officials, politicians, scholars and the general public gathered to share concerns, progress, and ideas pertaining to border security and how the border should meet 21st. century challenges. The conference was a joint endeavor of the University and the Office of U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes (D.,Texas). “It is terrific to have the opportunity to host this conference.