NPR Story
10:16 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Push For Immigration Reform Continues On The Border

The debate over immigration reform may have slowed down in Washington, but across the country advocates are pushing to keep the momentum alive.

On Saturday, activists in favor of comprehensive immigration reform are staging marches and rallies in more than 130 cities nationwide. This will include the participation of numerous border communities, where the effects of immigration policy tend to be more pronounced.

In Las Cruces, N.M., a parade of families will march from city hall to the office of Republican Congressman Steve Pearce. They want Pearce to support legislation that provides a path to citizenship for those immigrants in the United States illegally, something the congressman has spoken against.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is a lead organizer in Saturday's march. The office released a report this year documenting cases of families separated by deportation. The ACLU is using the report to advocate for a more humane approach to deportation proceedings.

Brian Erickson, a policy advocate for the ACLU in New Mexico, said another concern among border communities is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection use-of-force policies. Since 2010 border agents have killed 17 people while on duty. Most agents claimed self-defense.

A report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General released in September issued recommendations for improving training, tracking and execution of the agency's use-of-force policy.

September also marked the 20th anniversary of Operation Hold the Line, a Border Patrol strategy meant to stop out-of-control illegal immigration in El Paso, Texas. The El Paso Timesreports this week on the legacy of the operation, examining both the positive and negative outcomes.

Today other parts of the border are experiencing increases in illegal immigration, this time from migrants coming from Central American countries. In South Texas illegal immigration has doubled in the last four years. Migrant deaths are also on the rise.

Meanwhile, the future immigration reform remains stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives at least until Congress resolves the budget crisis and restores operation of the federal government.

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