El Paso, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego on Wednesday testified before the House Judiciary Committee about El Paso’s strategies for handling the influx of migrants along the border in the past months.
The hearing was called “Biden’s Border Crisis-Part One,” which was to examine border security, national security, and the impact of fentanyl on Americans.
Samaniego was invited by U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, to testify at the hearing.
“I am here today to share the El Paso story, a success story that strikes delicate balance between security and compassion,” Samaniego said.
However, before Samaniego shared the El Paso story he wanted to clarify narratives about El Paso.
“There is no open border in El Paso. Immigrants seeking asylum largely present themselves to Border Patrol for processing. El Paso is required to abide by the same immigration laws that other border communities must follow. There is no invasion of migrants in our community nor are there hoards of undocumented immigrants committing crimes against citizens or causing havoc in our community. Claiming this continues a false racist narrative against these individuals to propitiate violence that the El Paso community,” said Samaniego.
U.S. Rep. Nathaniel Moran, R-Texas, questioned Samaniego about border security in El Paso.
“Even in East Texas we recognize that there is a real need to support border security and that there is a crisis on the border so I am surprised by your comments today that would indicate that there’s nothing wrong and nothing going on on the border out there,” Moran said.
Moran went on to ask Samaniego if he was discounting a story he told about ranchers being fearful due to migrants crossing the border illegally in Otero County.
“I think you’re mixing things and that’s that El Paso is very different from those other communities so I cannot speak for them, but I can speak for El Paso. You’ve got the largest FBI, you’ve got the largest law enforcement, you have a lot of conditions that you don’t see,” said Samaniego.
Both Escobar and Samaniego praised the team effort among different local partners that have responded to the surge of migrants across the border at the end of 2022.
“When given the resources and support, they (local partners) can be a great ally in ensuring that we preserve the humanity in our system that all of us should want,” Escobar said.
Samaniego agreed that the local collaboration of different agencies and groups has been key to the local response along the border.
“One of the things that we recognized is our collaboration,” Samaniego said. “We’re not reacting at this point. We’ve been working for years. Almost every Friday, we meet with law
enforcement, Border Patrol, the Catholic Diocese, the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). And we know that by doing what we do right, the whole nation benefits from that.”