Luis Rodríguez / Tejano Tribune
(L-R) Border bureau Chief and Moderator, Angela Kocherga and panelists Attorney at Law and Immigrant Rights Activist Carlos Spector, Chief Border Patrol Agent Benjamine Huffman, and El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar listen to an audience member during the questions part for the immigration pannel of discussion.
Julio-César Chávez & Luis Rodríguez
Taking on issues like the wave of incoming children from Central America, to drugs coming across the border, a discussion panel was held on Sept. 22 with guests to share their experiences on immigration as part of El Paso Community College’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.
The event, titled “Life: Borderland Immigration Issues,” brought Border Bureau Chief Angela Kocherga as moderator.
Featured speakers included El Paso County Judge Benjamine Huffman, Chief Border Patrol Agent Veronica Escobar, and Attorney at law and activist for immigrant rights Carlos Spector a.
Border Bureau Chief Angela Kocherga as moderator. Featured speakers included Attorney at Law and Immigrant Rights Activist Carlos Spector, Chief Border Patrol Agent Benjamine Huffman and El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar.
The topic of undocumented children crossing the border was brought to the panel.
“There are two procedures, one is for the children of the world, and the other is for Mexican children,” Escobar said.
“If you come across from any part of the world and don’t have a parent, you are brought in immediately to Health and Human Services.
They get a lawyer, they get psychological treatment, they get a shelter and they get a field interview from an asylum officer.
“If you [as a Mexican child] come unaccompanied, you get turned to the Mexican consulate who turns you over to Mexican immigration, who turns you over to DIF, basically back to the streets.”
Drug trafficking was also discussed.
“From my perspective, it’s not that different from what it was before,” Huffman said. “There is still a narcotics problem, a trafficking problem. There’s no question about it.”
Escobar said the issues are faced by many and called the lack of transparency “frustrating.”
She said that the problems are not to be blamed on the Border Patrol because the instructions come from higher ups who don’t have a clear view of the situation.
“Many ask: ‘How can we fix this?’ The answer is simple: with forums like these. The key is not being silenced,” Escobar said.
“Change won’t come from the government. It needs to start with community groups that will speak up for everyone.” Spector added.
“The situation is vastly different than it was before.” Huffman said. “Things are not perfect. We must ask that the media be honest both ways; don’t make it seem better or worse than it is.”
This was the second discussion panel of a total of five that will be held at the Administrative Services Center at 9050 Viscount Blvd.
A panel about borderland economic development will be held today, Oct.1, at 7:00 p.m.