An ever-expanding job for border agents: sensitive decisions on migrants’ fates
By Mica Rosenberg & Kristina Cooke
In a U.S. border patrol facility in El Paso, Texas, labels on holding cells indicate whether migrants have been selected – “yes” or “no” – for a new Trump administration program that sends asylum seekers to wait out their U.S. court hearings in Mexico.
Democratic Congresswoman Nanette Barragan, who saw the signs on Monday during a tour of the station, said a cell labeled yes was filled; there was nobody in a cell labeled no.
Such determinations, highly important in the lives of migrants who may face violence across the border, are made on a daily basis by frontline uniformed officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (here).
Under new Trump administration policies, CBP officers increasingly are tasked with making sensitive decisions about the fate of migrants even as they struggle with the pressures of increased arrivals and heightened – and sometimes highly critical – public scrutiny.
Tensions boiled over this week, as visiting legislators including Barragan and U.S. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez publicly denounced the conditions and practices in Texas border patrol detention facilities.
“I have never been a supporter of having CBP agents be the judge and jury for these migrants,” Barragan said in an interview, referring to the decisions on who will wait in Mexico under the new Trump administration policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). “The same people are apprehending them and judging whether they are eligible for a program.”
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