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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Immigrants still surging into Texas shelters

    Posted Dec 24, 2014, 8:54 am

    Julian Aguilar The Texas Tribune

    McALLEN, Texas — The media tent that once stood in the parking lot of Sacred Heart Church is gone, as are the television crews and reporters who descended this summer when the flow of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the Texas border was major news.

    But after a brief lull, the surge of undocumented families passing through a temporary shelter set up by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley seems to be rising again. The spotlight may have turned away, but if the sense of crisis is gone, the people have not stopped coming.

    “The numbers increased a lot this past month, almost to 100 every day [last week],” said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. “We have seen some that have already been caught and tried again. They have hope that they have a chance at a better life here.”

    After Christmas, she said, the charity will begin searching for a facility to turn what began as a temporary shelter into a permanent offering.

    Pimentel oversees the volunteer effort providing short-term shelter to some of the thousands of women and children who have trekked to Texas from Central America. About 52,300 families surrendered to the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley during the 2014 fiscal year, an increase of more than 500 percent over 2013. About 50,000 unaccompanied children were caught or surrendered to border agents in the Valley in fiscal year 2014.

    The number of unaccompanied minors apprehended, or who have surrendered, has gone down from about 5,460 in October and November of 2013 to about 3,220 during the same months this year. But the number of parents with one or more minor children has stayed about the same: 3,430 in October and November of last year compared with 3,360 this year.

    “It doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon,” Pimentel said. “[The Border Patrol] considered the fact that we’re here and we’re prepared to receive them.”

    With so many arrivals, the Border Patrol releases most families to the church shelter with orders for them to appear before an immigration judge in whatever city they reach. Some stay in Texas. Others head for New York, Miami, Boston or Chicago, among other cities.

    Some of the migrants now show up at the shelter with ankle bracelets so officials can track their movements. Nina Pruneda, a spokeswoman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency's first priority is to make sure dangerous criminals aren't released.

    Beyond that, she said in an email, the agency decides where to send families and children on a case-by-case basis.

    During the summer's record immigrant surge, Republicans accused the Obama administration of spawning the disaster with lax enforcement of immigration policies. Texas leaders responded by sending a flood of state police and the Texas National Guard to the area.

    The administration, in turn, touted its quick response, and has since said efforts to curb the unauthorized migration have been working.

    “Since the spring, the numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border illegally have gone down considerably,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee earlier this month.

    But should the numbers continue to creep up, national attention — and political jousting — will almost certainly focus again on the border. Republicans will likely seek ammunition to help shoot down the president’s latest unilateral move on immigration. Last month, President Obama announced he was using his executive authority to grant an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States a reprieve from deportation proceedings and a work permit. Though the president stressed the policy would not apply to people who arrived in the country recently, Republicans have argued it will act as a magnet, enticing people to risk their lives and come to America.

    Spotlight or not, local officials and charities expect to be dealing with the flow of undocumented immigrants for the foreseeable future.

    Through Oct. 17, local governments had spent about $560,000 to aid in the humanitarian effort. Governments including the cities of McAllen and Weslaco, and Hidalgo and Willacy counties, have asked the federal and state governments for reimbursement, but a McAllen city official said they haven't heard back.

    The crisis has also put the area in the spotlight. Pimentel said the American and Latin American branches of Catholic Charities will hold their annual conference in McAllen next year. Pimentel has been nominated for The Dallas Morning News’ Texan of the Year award. She hopes people won’t lose sight of the root cause of the shelter's mission.

    “It’s the right thing to do and that’s my position,” she said. “Your heart breaks and you want to help. It’s bittersweet. All of this attention comes from the fact that there are a lot of people suffering, a lot of people hurting.”
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Border Crisis Flaring Up Again in Texas

    by Sarah Rumpf
    25 Dec 2014

    The flow of families and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) illegally crossing the border into Texas appears to be increasing again.

    The story became prominent in national news in June when Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby published leaked photos of children, mostly from Central America, who were being held in very crowded conditions in U.S. Border Patrol processing centers. Now, according to the Tucson Sentinel, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is reporting a surge in the number of families and UACs coming through a temporary shelter they operate in the area. The organization has announced plans to begin searching for a facility to use as a permanent shelter after Christmas.

    Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director for Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, told the Sentinel that although the media spotlight from this summer had turned away, they were once again seeing a surge of immigrants, and the numbers had “increased a lot this past month, almost to 100 every day.” Pimentel oversees the volunteer efforts at their shelter and said that the surge of immigrants “doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon,” but “we’re here and we’re prepared to receive them.”

    The Border Patrol’s records show that, comparing Fiscal Year 2014 to date (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014) to the same period in Fiscal Year 2013, there was a 77 percent increase in the number of UACs apprehended in the entire Southwest Border area, with nearly 50,000 being apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone, the highest number of apprehensions and a 132 percent increase from the previous year. The number of family units apprehended in the Southwest Border areas increased by 361 percent in Fiscal Year 2014, with both the Rio Grande Valley Sector and the Del Rio Sector seeing increases of over 500 percent. Over 52,000 family units were apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector during Fiscal Year 2014.

    The numbers of arrivals have been so overwhelming that the Border Patrol lacks adequate facilities to properly house everyone. As Breitbart Texas reported, tens of thousands of UACs have been released to friends and family members across the U.S., and the Border Patrol also relies on shelters run by groups like the Catholic Charities. The immigrants are released to their relatives or to the church shelters with an order to appear before an immigration judge at a later date.

    Critics of President Barack Obama’s immigration policies have said that his administration’s lax enforcement of immigration laws created a “magnet” enticing families to attempt to cross the border and parents to send their children on the dangerous journey alone. Obama’s announcement last month that he would be using executive orders to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants already in this country was viewed as encouraging even more to attempt to illegally cross our border. Texas is leading a coalition of about two dozen states suing the federal government in an attempt to block Obama’s execution actions, as Breitbart Texas reported.

    The Border Patrol’s statistics show that the Obama administration’s critics may be correct about U.S. immigration policy creating a magnet for illegal immigrants, at least in terms of Central America. From Fiscal Year 2009 through Fiscal Year 2014 through September 30, the number of UACs arriving from Mexico has been fairly constant, just under about 15,000 per year. However, the number of UACs apprehended from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras was only about 1,000 from each of those countries per year from Fiscal Year 2009 to 2011, jumped to an average of just over 3,000 in Fiscal Year 2012, about 7,000 in Fiscal Year 2013, and about 17,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 to date.

    This surge of immigrants has come at a high cost for both the Texas state government and local governments in the Rio Grande Valley. The Sentinel reported that local governments including the cities of McAllen and Weslaco, and Hidalgo and Willacy counties, had spent about $560,000 to support and shelter these immigrants through mid-October, and had sought reimbursement from the state and federal government, so far unsuccessfully.

    The State of Texas has spent over $800 million on enhanced border security operations since 2007, as Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst mentioned in a press conference in November where he announced that he, Governor Rick Perry, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus had written a letter to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) supporting the allocation of $86 million to fund continued border security operations through the beginning months of the next legislative session. Perry, Dewhurst, and Straus’ proposal included phasing out the Texas National Guard troops and replacing them with additional Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers. The LBB approved this proposal in an unanimous vote.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member vistalad's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by Jean View Post
    The State of Texas has spent over $800 million on enhanced border security operations since 2007....
    Implementing Universal E-Verify will let us control the border for pennies on the enforcement dollar. A five year phase-in was part of the Senate's immigration bill, but nobody seems to be talking about E-Verify now.

    That's too bad, because shutting of the jobs magnet is the only thing that will keep most illegals from sneaking in to our country.
    Americans first in this magnificent country

    American jobs for American workers

    Fair trade, not free trade

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