Photos and videos of migrants in El Paso, Texas surged social media Wednesday morning as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained hundreds of migrant families in a razor wire fenced enclosure under a bridge in El Paso, arguing that the increasing number of Central Americans seeking asylum have overwhelmed the existing processing centers.
In a press conference about a quarter mile from the enclosure, the CBP commissioner, Kevin McAleean, stated that they are handling a projected record number of migrants and are “facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis all along our southwest border.” As a result, migrants are being held in an encampment, with their stay lasting from hours to a couple of days, until they are able to be processed within the facility which can take hours, despite U.S. law banning that migrants are held in processing centers for longer than 72 hours.
A U.S. Border Patrol spokesman claimed the encampment was a transitional shelter that included tents equipped with basic necessities, saying that “if all of them wanted to sleep inside the tent, they would be able to. A lot of them choose not to for whatever reason.” However, several migrant families have reported that the tent was not large enough to accommodate everyone and supplies were insufficient. Consequently, the hundreds of families held in these encampments, including children, have suffered miserable conditions with dusty winds reportedly stinging families’ eyes and skin as well as temperatures dropping as low as the 40s.
“The situation at the southern border is further proof President Trump’s border security and immigration policies are a complete failure, and his Administration deserves much of the blame for making this humanitarian crisis worse,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS). “The Department of Homeland Security continues to block families trying to present themselves at our ports of entry, pushing them to areas between the ports of entry and adding additional stress to our border and immigration system. There is no legitimate reason for migrants to be held in horrid conditions or encamped under bridge.”
Other politicians such as Rep. Veronica Escobar, the Democratic representative who serves El Paso, as well as presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, who formerly represented El Paso in Congress, have been outspoken against the encampment. Despite harsh criticism from humanitarian advocates and politicians, the Trump administration continues to instate policies meant to punish and intimidate people seeking asylum.
Media Resources: Buzzfeed News 3/27/19; The Cut 3/29/19; The Guardian 3/31/19