Breaking News Emails
Get interrupted news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered everyday morning.
By Julia Ainsley
More than 1,800 immigrants arrived in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, just across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass, Texas.
Border agents in Eagle Pass can handle fewer than 20 asylum seekers a day, but from now on, there are no plans to increase the number of officers who can manage a credible fear interview, the first step toward seeking asylum. In a credible fear interview, an asylum seeker tries to find that there is reason to fear returning home.
The Trump administration sends 250 active troops to Eagle Pass in addition to several border patrols to enforce border security. The Texas Department of Public Safety has deployed dozens of state troops to Eagle Pass in anticipation of the caravan.
CBP's ability to treat asylum seekers depends on how quickly immigrants and customs enforcement can transport migrants from the border to detention.
The process of allowing only a small number of immigrants to be treated daily is called measurement and was used for short periods with particularly large increases of immigrants during the Obama administration. However, the Trump administration has continued to use months of measurement in San Ysidro, California, which triggers the creation of immigrant camps in Tijuana. Last month, two Central American boys were lured out of their immigrant camp in Tijuana and murdered.
In Tijuana, the immigrants keep an informal list of names assigned to each number, and only those called – usually around 40 – are allowed to approach the entry gate every day.
Immigration advocates concern about the bad conditions that immigrants may be exposed to if they are forced to wait in Piedras Negras, a small town that does not have the capacity to care for a large number of newcomers without home. They have encouraged the administration to harness more resources, including asylum workers, to the border to help treat more immigrants a day.
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it will begin returning to the asylum seekers coming to the port of entry, starting in San Ysidro, planning to extend to other parts of the border. The asylum seekers must wait in Mexico until their asylum cases can be heard.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety refused to comment. A CBP spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.