Arizona 360 took a closer look at new construction to install border fencing in Cochise County as well as some of the Trump administration’s other approaches to curbing immigration at the southern border.
For a better sense of the challenges the Border Patrol faces today, Lorraine Rivera sat down with Chief Carla Provost. Provost is the first woman to lead the U.S. Border Patrol and began her career with the agency in Douglas, Arizona, almost 25 years ago. Provost reflected on her career since then and discussed the Border Patrol’s response to the uptick in asylum seekers, recruitment challenges and her support for rank-and-file agents.
Several miles east of the city of Douglas, Customs and Border Protection plans to replace about 19 miles of Normandy-style fencing with taller bollard fencing along mountainous terrain. Arizona 360 captured early work underway by Southwest Valley Constructors, the company contracted by the Army Corps of Engineers. Lorraine Rivera also spoke to the police chiefs of Douglas and the neighboring Mexican city of Agua Prieta, Sonora, about how current infrastructure along the border impacts public safety in their communities.
Mexico began sending its National Guard to the country’s border with Guatemala in June, and it has since expanded those deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border. The initial move stems from President Trump's threats to levy new tariffs on trade unless Mexico did more to deter migration from Central America. Arizona Republic reporter Rafael Carranza has covered the deployment’s expansion and discussed its impact in the state of Sonora.
Many of the Trump administration’s policies around immigration have resulted in legal disputes. Last month, federal courts blocked two of the administration’s rules designed to fast-track deportations and detain families with children indefinitely. In the latter ruling, the judge found it would have violated the Flores Settlement Agreement that stipulates children must be released from federal custody after 20 days. It’s not the first time presidential administrations have tried to circumvent the agreement. Arizona 360 got insight about its history from Shefali Milczarek-Desai, an assistant clinical professor at the UA James E. Rogers College of Law’s Immigration Law and Policy program.
The Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy at the border garnered widespread attention and scrutiny over its resulting family separations. A federal judge ordered an end to the rule after more than 2,600 children had ben separated. A government watchdog report issued this summer detailed the trauma endured by children who experienced separation. While Customs and Border Protection has told us it limits instances where it separates families, their journey to the U.S. 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 also have the opportunity to heal through art. We learned more about the role of expressive art at the shelter from Valarie Lee James, coordinator for Casa Alitas’s Arts and Activities Program.