EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Community groups and at least one local politician are looking forward to building a good working relationship with the new interim Border Patrol Chief Agent in the El Paso Sector.
Gloria Chavez, who formerly headed the El Centro, California, sector of the Border Patrol has taken the reins of the El Paso Sector since late last month in place of Aaron Hull, who was reassigned to Michigan.
“There is a real opportunity to build trust in the community the way we used to have trust between federal law enforcement and the community,” said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) at her most recent town hall meeting here. “It all starts with her building trust within her agency and then coming together with groups and organizations so there is transparency and dialogue.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of progress with this Border Patrol sector chief, that there’s going to be accountability. … and I think she’s 100 percent on board,” Escobar said.
Fernando Garcia, executive director of El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights, said relations between the federal agency and community groups has been strained over the past few months because of the migrant surge and the humanitarian crisis that followed.
“We see this transition as an opportunity for improvement. Under the previous Border Patrol chief, we saw things like the inhumane conditions of children at the Clint station, overcrowding, the lack of basic supplies. … We also saw a stoppage to our event ‘Hugs not Walls,’ which had become a tradition and a symbol of unity in our community,” Garcia said, referring to a periodic gathering at the border fence or on the banks of the Rio Grande between migrants and their families in Juarez.
During a meet-and-greet event with reporters on Thursday, Chavez said she is committed to maintaining transparency within her agency and partnering with community organizations.
She also recognized the work of Border Patrol agents during a challenging period in the agency’s history, in which agents had to learn non-traditional roles in a hurry in light of tens of thousands of migrants who came across the border, had to be processed, housed in temporary facilities and cared for.
Chavez is a native of the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas and has been with the Border Patrol since 1995.