El Paso County Commissioner Iliana Holguin is also an immigration attorney. She says the county is regularly involved in the transportation of migrants to shelters after they have been processed by Homeland Security as are many community agencies with the help of volunteers. The governor’s order limits transport to law enforcement and says migrants can be sent back to a port of entry and their vehicle impounded if they’re suspected of having crossed illegally. Holguin says this order could be “extraordinarily disruptive.”
“And frankly, I’m not really sure what the governor is imagining would happen. Is he thinking – is his solution that migrants just have to remain at the border? It really just doesn’t make any sense,” Holguin said.
On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department sued the state over the governor’s order, asking a judge to block it and saying the state has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations. But, right now, Holguin says it’s unclear whether the order is in place. She also disputes the governor’s claim that this order is meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“If he was really concerned about stopping the spread of COVID-19, then he wouldn’t be doing all of the other things that he’s doing, like not allowing local governments to enforce mask mandates,” Holguin said. “So we know it’s not really about COVID-19. It’s really a distraction just to – to distract us from all of the terrible other things that the state government is trying to do here in Texas and their failure to manage the COVID-19 crisis.”
Holguin is also concerned about the risk of law enforcement officers profiling those perceived as migrants, and their vehicles, and she says that’s one reason she believes the order is unconstitutional.
“I personally don’t believe that the order will stand,” Holguin said. “But unfortunately, right now, in this moment, it’s doing nothing but wreaking havoc on the system that we have here in El Paso, where we have the federal government agencies working together with community organizations and local government to try to make sure that migrants are safely transported to wherever it is that they need to go so that they can reach their final destination and await the proper removal proceedings once they get there.”