Tornillo “tent city”

A few comments regarding the El Paso area politicians quoted concerning the Tornillo tent city for imprisoning immigrant children. First, Republican congressman Will Hurd: 

“U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who represents a large district that includes Tornillo, said he is “disappointed” in the lack of information the government is providing about the “detention situation along the border.” “The crisis along the border is not new and will continue until we have smart border security, work to address root causes of mass migration from Central American countries and have enough immigration judges to apply consequences for violation of the law,” Hurd said in a statement. “Our strategy to solving our broken immigration system should never include the use of children as a deterrent.”

Here is the “smart border security” Hurd is pushing in congress: 

“Last July, Hurd introduced the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act, which would direct DHS to deploy technologies for “situational awareness and operational control of the border.” His nine cosponsors include two Democrats. The bill is awaiting a vote, but some of its key ideas found their way into the 2018 federal budget, which provides funds for border-security technology.

“Nobody is disagreeing with the smart wall,” says Hurd, a former CIA agent who is one of the few members of Congress with a computer science degree. The economics are an obvious factor. “A concrete structure 30 feet high that takes four hours to penetrate costs $24.5 million a mile,” he says. “A smart wall, a system like what Anduril is proposing, is about a half a million a mile.”

This high tech project may sound great (and cheap)… Come to think of it, tent cities in the desert are probably pretty cheap also. But consider the political and social roots of this company, Anduril, and its brains:

“The politics of Anduril’s founders may not be popular in liberal Silicon Valley, but they need to please a different audience: members of Congress and government bureaucrats. To win big border contracts, Anduril must beat out other companies peddling visions of an electronic border wall, including an Israeli firm called Elbit Systems, as well as traditional defense giants.   …

“Meanwhile, Luckey’s political activities had made him the object of tech-press scorn. News reports claimed that Luckey was involved in an alt-right group called Nimble America, paying for billboards ripping Hillary Clinton as “Too Big to Jail” and allegedly penning vicious Reddit posts for the group. On his public Facebook page, he denied many of the allegations but confirmed that he donated $10,000 to Nimble America because he “thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters.” He apologized for “negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.” When asked about this now, the normally buoyant Luckey drops his smile and chooses his words carefully, claiming that his politics are misunderstood. “The alt-right, as it exists, as it’s defined, I do not support, never have,” he says. He describes himself as “fiscally conservative, pro-freedom, little-Llibertarian, and big-R Republican.”

“Lonsdale and Luckey argue that building cheaper, more efficient systems is a virtuous pursuit, saving taxpayer dollars. Anduril’s Palantir pedigree may have prepared it for criticism. As that company grew to a private valuation of $20 billion, its technology has been portrayed as Big Brother–style surveillance tools. Anduril’s leaders tread lightly on the subject of deadly force—traditionally the purview of defense companies—and have a ready answer when I ask whether the company will ever build systems that kill people.  … “We’re really focused on the intelligence and surveillance piece right now,” Schimpf says. But in the next beat: Not that there’s anything wrong with building weapons. “I wouldn’t say that’s a line we’re drawing.””

And the democratic nominee for the El Paso congressional seat, Veronica Escobar, has been criticized in the press because her husband, Michael Pleters, is a former prosecutor for DHS and is now an immigration judge.  For those not familiar with immigration courts, the DHS attorneys challenge every immigrant’s claim to asylum and other relief from deportation. Immigrants are not entitled to have an attorney to represent them. Most cannot afford representation. Numerous studies have shown that immigrants represented in court may prevail in about 45% of cases, while those without are successful in less than 11% of cases.  There are not nearly enough pro bono attorneys to represent even a tiny percentage of people in immigration court. El Paso immigration judges deny more than 90% of asylum claims they hear…one of the lowest rates in any immigration court jurisdiction in the country. molly molloy


“Veronica Escobar, the Democratic nominee in the race to replace O’Rourke in Congress, said lawmakers need to take action to stop the practice of separating families and therefore lessen the need for temporary shelters in the first place.  “The family separation occurring in our country is a tragedy of historic proportions, and it’s heartbreaking to know it’s occurring in our own backyard,” Escobar, a former county judge, said in a statement. “This policy, cruelty that was created by the Trump administration, is policy that the President can end, and one that Congress must end if he does not.”

“Her husband deports immigrants for the Trump administration. He was appointed in June last year by Jeff Sessions,” Fenenbock said. Pleters was appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June to begin hearing immigration cases in July. Escobar said her husband applied for the position during President Barack Obama’s administration.” 


Trump administration picks Tornillo as tent city site for immigrant children

About 100 El Pasoans participated in the rally outside the El Paso County Courthouse Thursday.Mark Lambie / El Paso Times, El Paso Times

AUSTIN — Nearly a year after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited El Paso and called the border town “ground zero” in the federal government’s war on cartel-related crime, the Trump administration has again zeroed in on the area.

This time the government’s focus is on a quiet town on the outskirts of El Paso County: Tornillo.


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