EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Borderland is having a big week, with El Paso in national headlines for the second anniversary of the August 3rd mass shooting and after a federal judge in town ruled to block Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order that would restrict the transportation of migrants.
This comes after the Biden Administration unveiled its Immigration Blueprint that promises to establish a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system.
KTSM 9 News spoke one-on-one with Pili Tobar, Deputy White House Communications Director, about what El Paso’s role is in the Administration’s vision for immigration reform and the cooperation it would like to see happen with states like Texas.
“El Paso is a vibrant community that has seen people coming in and out of Mexico and the U.S. for generations, and our goal is to be able to go back to a fair and orderly process where — once we’re in a better position with COVID-19 — that can continue to be the case,” says Tobar.
The GOP is critical of the immigration blueprint.
Michael Joyce, RNC Regional Spokesperson, told KTSM 9 News last week that Biden’s immigration blueprint was Democrats admitting failure when it comes to immigration reform after cancelling controversial Trump-era policies like “Remain in Mexico.”
The White House insists that is not the case.
“We’re not looking for ways to keep people out or to demonize immigrants in any way, shape, or form,” says Tobar.
“I think we’d really like to make the invitation for them to work with us rather than work against us when it comes to setting up this orderly process, and hope that at some point, they come to their senses and realize these policies are demonizing and in some ways just scoring political points aren’t helping their constituents,” she adds.
“On the contrary — they’re just making the situation worse.”
An aspect of the Immigration Blueprint is to improve messaging and combat misinformation circulated to countries in the Northern Triangle, as well as within the U.S.
For example, during Tuesday’s hearing before the U.S. District Judge Kathlene Cardone granted the temporary restraining order against Texas, the state’s defense lawyers used false data on the number of migrants with COVID-19 that cited Fox News as the source.
False information and the demonization of immigrants are factors that have contributed to growing rates of hatred toward Latino and Hispanic communities that the White House says its committed to fighting –especially for El Pasoans.
Gov. Abbott’s blocked executive order would have restricted transporting migrants, citing COVID-19 risks and ordering the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of such violations then reroute them to its point of origin or a port of entry.
The order would have also authorized DPS to impound a vehicle in violation of the order.
In places like El Paso, the order would have created congestion in the pipeline of processing migrants traveling out of El Paso to be with their sponsors until their next court date, often on buses with the help of non-government organizations (NGOs) assistance along the way.
The executive order would also impede on federal operations.
“Rather than try to fight the policies that we’re putting in place to set up an orderly process and work with us,” says Tobar, “what Gov. Abbott is doing, would make it completely impossible for our agencies — for DHS and HHS — to transport migrants from one facility to another.”
“Coming out of the two year mark of the massacre in El Paso, I think there’s a couple of messages. One: we stand with you, we value the vibrant and diverse community that El Paso is. We value the contributions of those in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez,” says Tobar.
Gov. Abbott announced a second special session of the Texas Legislature that will begin at noon on Saturday, August 7, 2021.
One of the top priorities is border security.
“Our goal and our hope is that in the near future we can go back to a situation in which communities like El Paso can continue to have this fruitful and lively relationship with communities on the other side of the border,” says Tobar.
The White House says it will continue to use El Paso as an example of a thriving border region that stands to benefit from policies listed in the Immigration Blueprint despite the efforts of GOP leaders in Texas.
“The President and Vice President have your back, and we will continue fighting not only to set up this fair and orderly system but also to preserve the livelihood of communities like El Paso whether it’s at the southern border or throughout the country,” she adds.