Arizona 360:USBP Chief, new wall construction, Flores Settlement Agreement

Arizona 360:USBP Chief, new wall construction, Flores Settlement Agreement

(upbeat music) – Hello and welcome to a
special edition of Arizona 360, I’m Lorraine Rivera. Thank you for joining us. President Trump’s calls for
new border wall took shape this summer as contractors
began installing taller fencing in Organ Pipe Cactus National
Monument and in Yuma County. That brings us to Cochise County where the Federal Government
plans to replace about 20 miles of existing barrier outside
the City of Douglas. This week we take a
closer look at the project and some of the Trump
other approaches to curbing immigration
at the Southern Border. To begin our coverage,
we recently sat down with the Chief of the US
Border Patrol Carla Provost. Provost is the first
woman to lead US BP and got her start in
Douglas almost 25 years ago. We asked her to reflect
on her career since then. – Well, I really love Douglas. I actually spent 11 and a half
years in Douglas as an agent, a first line supervisor and
a second line supervisor. And I was there
during the timeframe that we were building
up and manpower, that we were adding
tactical infrastructure, that we were adding
border barriers, that we were adding
more technology and was able to see how that
really helped us operate more efficiently
more effectively. – [Lorraine] Provost’s
rise in the agency included supervisory and
leadership positions in Yuma, El Paso and on
Central California. Today she oversees about
20,000 Border Patrol Agents as Chief of US BP. Her official promotion
came in August of last year after serving on an interim
basis since April of 2017. And that time, the number
of Central American families crossing at the
border began to climb. And despite a decrease
the summer CBP ended its 2019 fiscal year with more
than 800,000 apprehensions, the highest since 2008. Earlier this year, Provost
testified about the strain placed on the agency. – I joined the Border
Patrol nearly 25 years ago because of my strong belief in
our border security mission. I could never have envisioned
that today, agents would spend at least 40% of their time
as child care professionals, medical caregivers, bus drivers
and food service workers. The Border Patrol is not
set up to detain people for extended periods of time. And our facilities were
built in a timeframe when our demographic
was single adult males that we were catching. So we are not set
to house, children, women for long periods of time. But that’s also not the
Border Patrols role. Our role is to do
the apprehension and get them into the caring
custody of either ICE, Immigration and
Customs Enforcement or if they’re unaccompanied
children into HHS, and they have the facilities
that are better equipped to deal with that demographic. – How to respond to the
criticisms that the agency is not treating these
men, women and children, the family units well
while they’re in custody. – I will tell you my men and
women are doing an amazing job. I’m very, very proud of
them when you consider the facilities and the
situation that we’re in. We’ve had overcrowding, we
were not shy about that. I have testified
to that as well. That comes back to,
for instance by law, I cannot turn over an
unaccompanied child to anybody but HHS, and the border patrols
only ones that can’t say no. If people come
across we apprehend, we have to deal with them. – Provost says partner
agencies overwhelmed and unable to accommodate
the influx of asylum seekers led to overcrowding and Border
Patrol’s detention centers. Over the last year, the
agency face further scrutiny after several migrants
in custody died from illnesses
including children. In late June, Congress approved more than four billion dollars in supplemental funding for
CBP, which Provost says, helped improve conditions
at its facilities. The infrastructure along
the Southwestern Border has transformed over the years. – Yes it has. – The policy for many
people has become tougher, policies to enter the border. The number of deaths migrants
have increased over the years, their are the critics
who will say the agency has contributed to that. What’s your response? – I would tell you this. We’re law enforcement
first and foremost, and we have a job to
protect this country. And we took a, we swore an
oath to protect this country. And our main mission is
to secure the border. And to do that, and
in my experience, because I was in Douglas,
when we had no infrastructure, and barely any technology. I would say that we’ve had
a lot of positive impacts that people aren’t reporting. For instance, the local
communities and the impacts on those communities and
the reduction in crime. When it comes to the
deaths, we’ve also, what people don’t talk about is the sheer number
of people we rescue, over 4300 rescues this year. And my men and women are
constantly putting themselves in harm’s way to take care
of and to to save lives. I think we need to focus
more on the smugglers because they are not
treating these individuals as human beings, they’re
treating them as a commodity. It’s all about money for them. I would tell you
they are the ones that are putting
them in harm’s way. – On the national
stage, Provost and CBP have had to play
defense as both content with negative press, like
a ProPublica story in July that uncovered a
secret Facebook group where agents posted
inappropriate jokes
about migrant deaths and Congressional lawmakers. A follow up report from
The Intercept found Provost was a member of the group. Provost told a house
sub-committee she was unaware of the offensive post and self
reported her own membership to the Office of
Professional Responsibility once she realized she
was part of the group. Because of an
internal investigation into the group’s activity, she could not address
the issue with us. But she did discuss
how damaging headlines impact the agency’s ability
to attract new hires. Is recruiting a
challenge for you? – It has been I will
tell you this last year was the first year and a few
that we have gone positive on our hiring versus the
losses that we’ve had and I expect us to do
so again next year. So we’ve put a lot of
effort into our recruiting. But that being said, we are
certainly short staffed. The hiring processes
is long and tedious as any federal job is. But we have made a
lot of improvements
and a lot of strides. I think the negative press
certainly doesn’t help. But that being said, we are
seeing several applicants in the pool of applicants, so. – [Lorraine] Provost says CBP
could improve when it comes to hiring women who
account for about 5% of the entire force, and about
10% of its leadership post. However, Provost sees her
own trajectory as a sign the agency is headed in
a positive direction. – I do think myself sitting
in the role that I am has an impact because
I know when I go meet any of our female
agents in the field, I try to stop and talk to them. And I know that that
certainly gives them the idea that hey, they
can get there too. – You sound hopeful about
the future of the agency despite all the noise
that’s occurring right now. – Well, the Border Patrol
has been around for 95 years, and I’ve watched it develop
over the last 25 years and no matter what
the challenge, our
men and women step up, and they do an amazing job
with very limited resources. So I think my hopes
and my expectation that we will get through
this to lie on the shoulders of our men and women,
they’re just amazing people. It’s part of the reason
I’ve spent 25 years in this organization. – Okay, Chief Carla
Provost, thank you. – Thank you. – In Cochise County,
the agency’s future
involves replacing some Normandy style
fencing, with 18 to 30 foot tall bollard fencing
along mountainous terrain. According to documents from CBP, the project begins several
miles east of Douglas and continues for 19 miles. Crossing the San Bernardino
National Wildlife Refuge. The Army Corps of
Engineers contracted with Southwest Valley
constructors to build the wall. (engine roaring) Our crew saw early work
underway at a remote site least from a rancher,
who told me crews are drawing groundwater
from the property for a cement batch plan. The city of Douglas also
signed an 18 month agreement to provide water
services and lease land near the Douglas
Municipal Airport. Douglas’ Finance Director
estimates the contractor will use between 200,000
and 500,000 gallons a month. He added that the city’s
daily water production averages about 5
million gallons a day. City officials anticipate an
economic boost from the project as the influx of
construction workers seek lodging and spend locally. Since the 90s, infrastructure
along the border in and around Douglas
has changed drastically. Police Chief Kraig Fullen
is a lifelong resident who joined the
force 22 years ago. We discussed how
built up barriers have impacted public safety. – Growing up here,
my recollection of
the border barrier was a dilapidated barbed
wire fence and unimproved it. With the infrastructure
that’s been put in, prior to that, the trend was for people to come
across fairly freely. And for that movement to
be both North and South, with the influx that
we had at that time, and this is like the late
90s into the early 2000s. It was very problematic
because we had those people running into our
neighborhoods hiding in yards, trying to evade law enforcement. – I think people who
don’t live in Douglas who aren’t from here, think of the border
as a dangerous place, I mean you are the top
cop in this community. Would you say that’s true? I think the perception is there. Definitely, we do get
increased from time to time. Little League teams that are
coming from either out of town or out of state, wanting
to know if it’s safe for their trial to come down and participate in a tournament. That’s kind of the challenge
that we have as well as trying to
overcome that stigma of being an unsafe
community because of our location
here on the border. When in fact our experiences
is to the contrary, I consider our
community very safe. I think the true
advocates of that are the community
members themselves. – With 34 officers Fullen says
the ability to collaborate with CBP and other law
enforcement agencies, benefits his city of
about 16,000 people. It may surprise people
though, to know that you have a relationship with
authority south of the border. And we talked about
the way of life. I mean, this really is
just sort of one place that happens to have a
huge fence in between. – Right and honestly, it
hasn’t always been that way. I think in my tenure
here, we’ve relied on our federal partners
because of the relationships that they’ve established with
our counterparts in Mexico. And we’ve been able to
rely on those relationships versus establishing our own. I can say that that has
changed most recently with the chief that’s there
now for the municipal agency. We have had
collaboration together. We’ve had his staff over for
training a couple of times now and within the
like the last year. So we are engaged in
conversation with them a lot more frequently
than we were in the past. – Across the border from Douglas lies the city of Agua Prieta,
a community of nearly 100,000. Marcus Vinicius Ornelas Quesada
has been the Chief of Police for the last six years, and
oversees nearly 100 officers. How would you describe relations
between your department and authorities in Arizona? – The relationship
between police in Arizona and police in Mexico these
days is the best it’s been. There’s coordination
between municipalities like Douglas and states
with federal authorities like Customs and
Border Protection and
the Border Patrol. – Last June, Agua Prieta made
headlines after shootouts in the city left
several people dead. Wary of any spillover violence, the Arizona Department
of Public Safety sent back up to the area. Would you say the border
is a dangerous place? – No The United States
is more dangerous. In six years, we only
had two days of violence. And for those years Agua
Prieta was considered one of the safest border
cities, it still is. It was only those two days
where there was violence. And those were isolated
cases between rebel groups. They had a dispute
and it was done. There hasn’t been
any other violence. It’s a safe place. – I asked him, if the
border wall does anything for the community
of Agua Prieta? – I mean, how’s it
going to help us? The firearms go through
the Port of Entry? So it doesn’t really help us. We lose our view, the
animals can’t cross. It’s a wall that was
built a long time ago. It’s not new. It has been here for 15 years. So does it help us? No, I don’t think it
does in a positive way. – Outside the Port of Entry, we saw several makeshift
tents along the sidewalk. Chief Ornelas Quesada says
immigrants from Central America with permits travel
through Mexico and wait here until
they can request asylum. Immigration authorities
in the United States have told me that Mexico
has really stepped up its work here along the border. Do you see that? – Yes, sure. The border has always
been reinforced. There’s Federal Border Police, now the Border National Guard, they help us
patrolling the border. The local police do the
same, they do their part. And that’s so immigrants who try to enter the US don’t get hurt. – Mexico’s National
Guard first took up post along its southern border
with Guatemala back in June, after President Trump
threatened to levy new tariffs on trade unless Mexico
did more to deter migrants from Central America. Their presence eventually
expanded to Mexico’s border with the US, a move praised
by Border Patrol leaders like Carla Provost and Tucson
Sector Chief Roy Villareal. The Arizona Republic Rafael
Carranza has covered what that deployment looks like
in the state of Sonora. – There’s always been
trucks of soldiers, Mexican soldiers fully armed, with you know, their guns out, that have more or less
been patrolling, you know, the streets in certain
cities in Mexico for, you know, over a decade now since you know,
two Presidents ago. And what the change now
is that the people holding the guns now, the soldiers are
part of the National Guard. So they’re wearing a different
uniform they’re driving a different car with the
insignia of the National Guard, but they’re still doing
a lot of those duties. And certainly we’ve seen
them in Agua Prieta, we’ve seen them in Nogales and in a lot of the other
border cities here in Arizona. And certainly in the other
Mexican border cities as well. So their presence
is definitely there. And that has also, you know,
caused a lot of tension, not just with, you
know the population but also with a lot
of the nonprofits that work directly
with migrants too. – The numbers of the National
Guard members in Mexico who are on the Southern
Border and the Northern Border nearly eclipses the number
of Border Patrol agents here in the United States. In your reporting is
that evident that Mexico is taking this seriously
because of the threat of duties? – I mean, it seems that
that’s kind of the impression that, you know, that is
being given considering, you know, the massive
number of troops that are the National
Guard members that Mexico has deployed. And it seems that
they’re, you know, they’re taking it
seriously enough. I think that the question or
what we need to look out for is how sustained will this be, will those National Guard
troops remain there for, you know, a year, two years? Is that gonna be
a permanent thing or are they gonna be
starting to taper off now that we’re starting to
see quote and quote, results. And by that meaning,
you know, a decrease in the number of
apprehensions on the US side. And you know, US officials
are a little wary about, you know, those future
plans because they feel that if Mexico does
taper off their support, and they start withdrawing some of these
National Guard troops, then the number of
apprehensions could, you know, begin to rise again, maybe not to the historic levels that we saw earlier in the year, but you know, close
enough to you know, create some additional you know, hardships and
challenges for them. – So when the Department
of Homeland Security touts the decrease in numbers, it
may not be completely fair, look at the picture,
because many of these people are remaining in Mexico
instead of crossing and requesting asylum,
is that correct? – Well, I think once, you
know, in order to be sent back to Mexico, they already
have to be, you know, they already have to have
been in the United States. So they certainly
already made it there. But I think what remain in
Mexico is doing, you know, by sending these
individuals back to Mexico, instead of letting them
continue into the interior of the country, that
is, you know, creating, you know, it’s discouraging
people, you know, back in Central American
countries and Southern Mexico, from you know, attempting this. Because what I found in
my reporting is that, in many instances, the
reason or the way that many of these migrants reach
a particular border area is because they have relatives
or they know somebody who cross through there and
so it’s by word of mouth. And so now that, you know,
the word of mouth is that, you know, they’re not
letting us get through, they’re sending
us back to Mexico. The US government is hoping
that that’s going to contribute or that’s going to
help, you know, reduce the number of individuals who
take off in the first place. – The Trump administration’s
policies around immigration often result in legal disputes. Late last month, federal courts
blocked two rules designed to fast-track deportations
and detain families with children indefinitely. In the latter ruling, the
judge found it would violate the Flores Settlement
Agreement that stipulates, children must be
released after 20 days. It’s not the first time
presidential administrations have tried to circumvent
the agreement. As we discussed with your
Shefali Milczarek-Desai, assistant clinical professor
in the U of A College of Laws, Immigration Law
and Policy Program. – So it started in 1985. So just to take
everyone back that’s under the administration
of President Reagan. And there were a class of
plaintiffs who are children who were detained by immigration
services in this country. And those the plaintiffs
class, the argument that they made was, these
children are being held in a way that’s not
safe and sanitary. And furthermore, there
isn’t the kind of eye towards releasing them. And that lawsuit, ultimately
got to the US Supreme Court in 1993, now we’re shifting over to the Clinton administration. There were two, I’m gonna
kind of talk about them like two buckets, okay. There were two big buckets of things going on
in this lawsuit. One bucket was, we don’t want
children to be in detention for long periods of time. We want to expeditiously
process them and release them
if at all possible. The second bucket is to the
extent that we need them to be in detention for a
certain limited period of time. We wanna make sure those
conditions are safe, that they’re sanitary,
and that we’re looking, we’re motivated by the concern for the particular
vulnerability of children while they’re in that situation. The Supreme Court case
in 1993 only dealt with a very discrete portion
of that first bucket. – This settlement has been
challenged in the 30 years of existence by multiple
administrations, but somehow it remains in place. How is that legally possible? – So that’s also the that’s the
next question in this story. So the case comes back
after the Supreme Court to the District Court. And in 1997, the parties
at the time the government was the Clinton administration
and the plaintiffs, agreed to settle. And that’s what
becomes the famous, Flores Settlement Agreement. And what I wanna point out
here, because it’s something that the District Court has said over and over and over
again, in this case. Is that a settlement agreement
is essentially a contract. It’s a binding contract. And that answers your
question as to why this agreement continued. – In light of what’s
taking place, many leaders in the Department of Homeland
Security have classified this as a legal loophole. So it has been challenged. What have been some
of the arguments to try and get out
of this agreement? – Now, let’s fast
forward to 2015. Now we’re under the
Obama administration, and the plaintiffs
bring an action in court and they say, “Hey, remember
that settlement agreement “we entered into, government
you’re not holding up “your end of the bargain.” In other words, you’re in
breach of that contract. The response of the
government at that time was, “Look, to the extent
that you’re talking “about accompanied minors, so
minors who are in detention “with their parents, the
agreement doesn’t apply to them. “So we’re not in breach
of the agreement.” That issue went up to the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2016 ruled consistently
with the District Court, that there’s nothing in the
agreement that distinguishes between accompanied minors
and unaccompanied minors. So again, going back putting
on your contract hat, the plain language of the
statute says, it’s all minors. And the reasoning for
that was, of course, that these agreements
were entered into because everyone
agreed that children needed certain safety measures
in place in order to thrive, you know, in whatever situation
they found themselves in. So what the government
did after it lost at the District
Court level in 2017, is they re-triangulated
the strategy. And they said, you know what, we’re just gonna
change our regulations. The courts not letting us out of the Flores
Settlement Agreement, that the government agreed
to all those years ago. We’re just going to
create new rules that say, with respect to
accompany minors, we don’t have to
do these things. And that’s the court ruling
that just came down last week from the District Court,
where the District Court said, “No, you can’t get out of
the contract by doing that.” And the district court
use this very contract that based language that
said, for better or for worse, we have the system of
contract in our country that gives party certitude. In other words, if
parties didn’t believe that their contracts would
be honored into perpetuity, they would be reluctant to enter into contracts to begin with. So the court said, I have
to honor the plain language of this settlement agreement. It’s not a loophole,
it’s actually a contract which is as old as our nation. – The Trump administration’s
Zero Tolerance Policy at the border garnered
widespread attention and scrutiny over its
resulting family separations, a federal judge
ordered a stop to it after more than 26 hundred
children had been separated. Last month a Government
Watchdog report detailed the trauma endured by children. While CBP has told us
it limits instances where it separates families, their journey to the US
can still involve hardship. Over the last year hundreds
of families seeking asylum have found refuge at
Casa Alitas in Tucson. A short term shelter
for migrants run by Catholic Community Services, along with sanctuary children
and adults are also given an opportunity to
heal through art. We learn more from
Valerie Lee James, a former clinical art therapist, and the art activities program
director at Casa Alitas. – Our expressive arts
here at Casa Alita are part of a continuum
of trauma informed care that we do here. And so we don’t really
call it therapy, but its expressive arts and
that’s exactly what it does. The other thing that
happens with expressive arts is it really helps
to build a little bit of resiliency in the short term. So especially when we
teach emergency English, which is part of that, it’s actually part
of expressive arts, which involves the visual
arts, movement, music. These are all modalities
that really help to dislodge, really stuck places,
undigested feelings and help us to process emotions. – One of the things that has
kind of been, kind of new, I think, is expressive
art for adults as well. Are you seeing that
through some of the parents that you’re seeing coming
through your doors as well? – Absolutely, and I’m glad
you asked that question. Many times we have adults kind
of shyly joined the groups, they’re very happy that
their kids are being directed into this structure. It’s very much like a
squeal as going to school. And so sometimes
adults will sit in, but then we really
encourage them also, some of the most beautiful
work that we see here is done by adults as well. – Guests can express
themselves in a variety of ways from embroidery to
sculpting and drawing. Their first introduction to
art happens during intake. Crayons and coloring
books adorn each table where volunteers
process new arrivals, finished work also
decorates the wing. – [Valarie] The
kids just love being able to put their work up after they do it and join
all the rest of the work that’s on the wall
and write their names and the countries they’re
from and their ages. – [Lorraine] James says art
she sees children create regularly features homes, nature and often conveys a
sense of gratitude. – Well, first we
see images of faith. And that’s something
that you see quite a bit and these are spontaneously
done by guests that come in and they’re just so grateful
to have made it here. – Because you are
an art therapist, do
you ever run the risk of looking at something
and misinterpreting it, because it may not be
what you think it is. – Actually, we are careful about interpreting
children’s work, this child is expressing
any number of things. And we really can’t know
what’s truly going on here. What’s important for them
is that they did the work, to be able to get some
of those feelings out, some of the post traumatic
stress that’s carried, of course after a
journey like this. – But so much of
what has transpired. And I think for a lot of people, the last thing to
consider would be art, but for you, this has
been top priority. – Yes, art is life. Art is literally the
universal language and brings us all together. – [Lorraine] Art hanging
in Casa Alitas speaks to the transformation
happening in what was once a juvenile detention
center for Pima County. The most move here from the
Benedictine Monastery in August led some to
criticize the optics. To make this space
its own Casa Alitas set up an outdoor clothing bank. Established commentaries with
plenty of seating and toys, built an outdoor garden
and hung mosaic tile murals created by the county
program last of this. – The other day I
was here and kids were running back and forth
in the halls behind me, laughing and screaming. And normally you might
say, you know, calm, calm. But in this case, we are happy
to see those kids having fun, and they’re having fun
because they’re surrounded by all these images that
remind them of home. So it’s pretty extraordinary
what’s happened here and what we’re still
putting together. – Other services
offered include a chapel where volunteer pastors of many
faiths can schedule visits. Community donations
also helped keep an art supply room stocked, allowing families to leave
Casa Alitas with activity bags. What are you hoping these
children take with them when they leave your doors on
the next leg of their journey? – We really hope that
kids and adults leave here with a sense of having
found some safety and a little bit of relief. You know, going through. It’s so traumatic going
through this kind of migration with family displacement,
and we just hope that they feel safe here. – That’s all for now. Thanks so much for joining us. Let us know what you think. Visit us on social
media or send an email to [email protected] We’ll see y6ou next week. (upbeat music)

  1. in the bible God lays out his holy city coming down from heaven with a big wall

    revelation 21

    12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

    14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the [j]names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand [k]furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

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