Rep. Ro Khanna Reflects on Visit to Border Detention Facilities

A migrant died earlier the same day Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) arrived at the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center, a migrant detention facility at the Southern border. The Silicon Valley  congressman says he found out about the fatality through a supervising border agent who confided the tragic detail last week to Khanna and other members of a congressional delegation to the U.S.-Mexico divide.

The migrant’s cause of death was unknown, but Khanna says it was most likely due to the strain of the treacherous journey that brought him there.

Indeed, migrants take increasingly dangerous routes to enter the U.S., eschewing closed-off ports of entry for river crossings and other alternatives, risking their lives to flee violence and poverty back home.

“[Trump’s] return-to-Mexico policy is leading to desperate measures and it has to be repealed,” Khanna says in a recent interview with San Jose Inside. The policy he’s referring to, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, require asylees to return to Mexico while the await a hearing in American immigration court.

But migrants face a grim reality in Mexico. Khanna says border agents told him that gangs recruit girls as young as 12 into sex work as so-called “gang girlfriends.”

While Trump’s return-to-Mexico policy has improved conditions at the border facility Khanna toured by reducing the number of detainees coming through, it comes at a cost to migrant safety. Many of the asylees turned away at the border were sent to Juarez, a city notoriously plagued by gang violence. As conflict between the government and drug-trafficking groups intensifies in the border city, the number of murders soars. Last year, authorities tallied 700 murders in the municipality of 1.3 million people.

At the time of Khanna’s visit to the border facility in the Mexican city, migrants had basic medical care and sanitation.

“I asked one of the city officials of Juarez,” Khanna says. “How do you manage thousands of refugees, when we in the United States have all these awful conditions?” The city official reportedly replied: “We don’t fear migrants the way you fear them.”

American lawmakers have taken action to ensure that the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) provide migrants with basic needs. Last month, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill to set minimum standards for CBP to meet minimum standards of hygiene, nutrition and shelter provided to migrants.

“The Trump administration’s policies have exacerbated the border situation, making it necessary for Congress to intervene,” Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) said in a statement.

Khanna says he believes that the government’s failure to respond to the growing number of migrants is a gross disservice to agents patrolling the southern border. “By their own admission, they are not trained to care for psychological and medical needs of minors and families,” he says. “Their job as CBP officers is to protect the border. It’s not fair for a country to expect them to administer care for families or children.”

Khanna stresses the need for processing asylum claims in other countries migrants pass through before arriving at the U.S. border. The Obama administration established just such a program for children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. But Trump terminated the process when he took office in 2017.

Another policy that would go a long way toward helping the border crisis, in Khanna’s view? Giving work visas to migrants.

“There are very few people who I talked to that said, ‘I want to stay in the United States,’” he says. “What they want to do is work, make some money and go back. There needs to be a bipartisan solution to how we provide work permits.”

A year before Obama succeeded him, President George W. Bush pitched the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act to give 400,000 undocumented immigrants temporary employment visas, but it died in a Senate subcommittee.

Finally, Khanna tells San Jose Inside, he also believes that the U.S. should increase foreign aid to Central American countries.

“One thing [on which] I hope to reach bipartisan consensus is to provide aid to Juarez for the immigrants,” the congressman says. “If we absolve our responsibility of providing housing for migrants, the least we can do is to assist Juarez in providing basic humanity to people who are fleeing violence.”

Nicholas Chan is a journalist who covers politics, culture and current events in Silicon Valley. Follow him on Twitter at @nicholaschanhk.

35 Comments

  1. Khanna has not said anything different than other politicians, so I do not see the news here, just the promotion of a politician’s trip and ‘interest’ in the migrant community. United States, Mexico, and other Latino countries have to work together to create job opportunities in these countries and counter act the violence by the Maras. The drug lord Violence mostly affect those in that illegal business and unlucky innocent people who were at the wrong place and time of the narco killings. Child sexual exploitation is a problem In all the American continent and in Islamic States where the Bacha Bazi and child marriageable are acceptable cultural norms. For people in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the Maras’s violent are the principle challenge. These Maras rape women and children in plain day light without any body stoping them for fear of being killed. The government corruption in these countries are worst than the corruption in Silicon Valley. Thus visas and other similar measures are just a bandage. Poverty, lack of employment, and violence by Maras are the roots that have to be addressed. Most countries have decent laws against Child Sexual Exploitation and human trafficking. What they all lack is enforcement of those laws. Just like in Santa Clara County, in Latino American countries and in the Islamic States, privilege men get a pass for their crimes. Corruption is then the cancer spreading to all these countries. Khanna, we need more action and less taking! You and the other socialists just want their pro-immigration picture on the news. The Spanish saying: “De lengua repito plato.” Or Actions speak louder than words!

  2. > “The Trump administration’s policies have exacerbated the border situation, making it necessary for Congress to intervene,” Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) said in a statement.

    If you ever wanted an example of Orwellian doublethink, here it is:

    Congress ISN”T intervening. Congress is totally paralyzed, constipated, and catatonic. Congress is INCAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING.

    Congress might get blamed. Zoe Lofgren might get blamed.

    LOOK OVER THERE! A SHINY OBJECT! He’s got orange hair.

  3. > “There are very few people who I talked to that said, ‘I want to stay in the United States,’” he says. “What they want to do is work, make some money and go back. There needs to be a bipartisan solution to how we provide work permits.”

    Utter baloney.

    I don’t believe this for a microsecond.

    I don’t believe this for a NANOSECOND!

    My guess is that Donald Trump would jump at the chance to give each migrant family a check for five thousand bucks for getting on an airplane and flying back to wherever and promising to NEVER come back. This would be a Y-U-G-E bargain for the U.S. taxpayers.

    Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Gavin Newsom would throw their bodied in front of the train to prevent ANY illegal immigrant from growing back and denying the Democrat Party future VOTER REGISTRATIONS for casting fraudulent voies under the Voters Choice mail-in vote fraud scheme.

    • “y, undocumented immigrants in the United States pay an estimated total of $11.64 billion in
      state and local taxes a year (see Table 1 for state-by-state estimates). This includes more than $6.9 billion in
      sales and excise taxes, $3.6 billion in property taxes, and just under $1.1 billion in personal income taxes. ”
      https://itep.org/wp-content/uploads/immigration2016.pdf

      “over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use.” https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/110th-congress-2007-2008/reports/12-6-immigration.pdf

      The social security benefit to lots of the same old people on Facebook is especially ironic. Undocumented folks kick into a system but can’t collect.
      https://www.ssa.gov/oact/NOTES/pdf_notes/note151.pdf

      Just food for thought my good friend bubble.

      • > “over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use.”

        WOW!

        WHO KNEW! There is a TREMENDOUS business opportunity here!

        Open up the flood gates of immigration and America will be swimming in cash.

        We can pay off the $21 trillion dollar national debt AND raise public employee pensions.

        This is a brilliant idea. It’s amazing that Obama never thought of this.

        You must be some kind of financial genius. Are you a hedge fund manager?

          • “Immigrants are TRULY A BLESSING FOR AMERICA! ! !” This but unironically.

      • Associates Only,
        Illegal immigrates cost this country a billion dollars a day. Your 11 billion they pay back in taxes a year is peanuts.

    • The undocumented voter rhetoric you are regurgitating was debunked long ago when trum himself shut down kobachs racist committee…. because they found NOTHING TO SUPPORT THEIR CLAIMS. Maybe trump should give bigots like yourself $5k to leave this country? I would totally support that. Gfy

      • No, what happened was that California and other states refused to provide access to any data. The states with the highest levels of illegal immigration stonewalled against transparency.
        But there are certainly signs of problems. Eleven (11) California Counties have more registered voters than voting age citizens! (often by 10+%) For example, in response to a lawsuit, LA County is now required to verify or purge 1.5 million names from its voter rolls.
        This seemingly deliberate failure to maintain the rolls in certain states is what makes people suspicious, since it’s a direct enabler of fraudulent voting.
        For all of people’s yapping about “Russia” spending 100K on facebook ads (in an election where spending topped $6B), you would making sure only citizens vote and only once would be something we could all agree on…

      • > Maybe trump should give bigots like yourself $5k to leave this country? I would totally support that. Gfy

        TARA TORA TORA

        I think we’re inching closer to common ground, here. Instead of giving money to The Democrat founded KKK, or Antifa, or the Southern Poverty Law Center to leave the country, how about giving ENVIRONMENTAL GRANTS to illegal aliens to plant trees in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. to fight global warming? ! ! !

        I’m a genius!

        Here’s the deal:

        1. Illegal immigrant turns himself or herself into ICE.

        2. Illegal immigrant signs contract to plant a tree in any one of several banana republics in exchange for $5,000 Yankee dollars, payable in person at the U.S.consulate in Banana Land.

        3. Illegal immigrant further agrees to personally take care of the tree and all of its offspring for the rest of his or her life, and to never return to the United States.

        4. Reentering the United States or willful neglect of tree nurturing responsibilities will subject Banana Land to invasion and regime change and forfeiture and repayment of all environmental grants.

        5. After signing contract, Illegal immigrant is whisked to the nearest airport in a limousine and placed on a direct flight to Banana Land, and the illegal immigrant’s name is immediately removed from the voter rolls.

        I think this is a WIN WIN WIN solution!

  4. I agree with you on this one asociado. In reality, undocumented immigrants contribute more than they receive. Think about those that come through the scam of visa fraud. They obtain the top jobs and benefits for supposedly being the world’s talent Google brings to the area. Latino immigrants particularly the undocumented take the jobs Americans do not want, and without their work farmers go broke. But the extreme left and right with their extreme views and never ending fights are obstacles for any resolution. Free border and building a wall are two non-sense ideas. Those preaching free borders remove the windows, doors, and and fences in your home. Practice what you are preaching. For those preaching for a wall, this is not Germany in Hitler’s time. Work on the roots of this mass immigration predicted by social scientist many years ago. Other measures are bandages. All countries have a right to regulate their borders. People have to be treated with dignity independently of legal status. All criminals also have to accountable independently of their legal and socio economic status. These are universal values and rights! Come to the center! #KamalaHarris #ForThePeople

    • What is Kamala’s position on illegal immigration? Last I recall, she wanted to pay for healthcare for illegal immigrants, and raise our taxes to do it.

      • Kemala is not proposing open borders or not putting undocumented criminals in jail. She is proposing a path for legalizing status for those who qualify. She definitively want to give a citizenship path to the Dreamer who she sees as Americans. She is pro applying the laws and at the same time treating immigrants as the humans beings they are. Criminals are criminals documented or undocumented, so the law has to be applied too. She is not against the rich, but her policies are aimed at lifting the low and middle class families. She will definitely close private retention facilities that benefit by the days immigrants stay there. She is going to end the caging of children. She is going to create the conditions that will improve the lives of the regular people in the here and now not in ten years. This is her 3am agenda! #KamalaHarris #ForThePeople

        • > She is going to end the caging of children.

          FEXXY:

          There is no “caging of children”. There are only “fake news stories”.

          CNN and MSNBC will stop running the fake “caging of children” news stories when they get their stooge elected.

          You need to be a LOT more cynical.

          • I know Kamala. I do not need those stories. #KamalaHarrisForThepeople Also, I do not watch TV. I know tough FOX is the right and CNN the left. Most media outlets follow the agenda of those that pay for their ads. This is the power of mass media and society. This is how those with money have the power to shape the views and beliefs of societies. Serious journalism is at rare.

        • > She is going to create the conditions that will improve the lives of the regular people in the here and now not in ten years.

          OK. I’m in.

          What condition is she going to create that will improve MY life HERE AND NOW?

          This better be good. I’m not a cheap date. I WANT SOME GOOD SH*T!

          • Maybe improve your own life and stop depending on everyone else to do it for you. ME ME ME, GIMME GIMME… grow up and stop blaming others for your failures in life.

          • By creating opportunities so low income and middle class families can better take care of the basic needs and educational aspirations of their children, our current youths can be better prepared for high paid employment and contribute to social security benefits of the elderly. With the health care for all with the option of private insurance, I can chose the plan that best fits my needs; competition generates better rates for people than a monopoly system. If women are paid equally, they will have more time for themselves and children, family time, exercise, being more connected to CHILDREN’s school and life. Strong families and communities contract delinquency in adolescent and young adults. The tax breaks for middle class and low income families will also allow them to save money for emergencies, health, death,.,, How the tax breaks Trump gives to the tick benefits the 99 percent and me?

        • Felix,
          All Kamala needs is for the 1.5 million illegal’s registered to vote twice in California to become president, right.

      • Those who are living here without legal documentation wait to go to the emergency room which is more costly to tax payers. The covering for those undocumented will never and is not the same than that of citizens or legal residents. A better system than the emergency room is the option. An option that focuses on prevention of illnesses not treating expensive emergency visits. Healthy undocumented immigrants work and contribute. Keeping communities healthy is in the best interest of everyone. The immigration and status are a different jurisdiction and matter. Each system and jurisdiction have to apply best practice and excellence in work and ethics.

  5. Maybe we should concentrate on our own back yard by addressing the many companies who support these “ camps” right under our noses.
    Advantel
    Barometric
    Black bAg technologies
    Imagine that
    MBI OFFICE SUPPLIES
    RFI ENTERPRISES
    CITY OF SAN JOSE
    Signal intelligence
    CITY OF SANTA CLARA

    and the list goes on…. all with contracts that supply these camps!

  6. Totally agree with our own backyard Tara. Our local politicians want to redirect our attention to Washington so we let them engage in their corruption freely. remember Khanna and Liccardo are part of the club whose political careers are financed by the local tech and other companies. The saying goes that we should be the change we want to be in the world and so we should start by own backyards!

  7. If Mexico’s refugee camps are so wonderful, Ro should make a surprise visit and find out what the Mexican are doing so well.

    Then find out why nobody wants to stay there. Why would these people risk life and limb to come to the most corrupts, dangerous ,white racist, homophobic, misogynist, debtor nation on the face of the planet in all of history. Seems to me they are coming to a dead end here. Matter of fact I’m thinking of buying El Salvador!

  8. > By creating opportunities so low income and middle class families can better take care of the basic needs and . . . BLAH BLAH BLAH!

    WHAT opportunities! And how is Kamala going to create them?

    AND why hasn’t see created them already? WHAT IS SHE WAITING FOR?

    This is WORSE than dishonest. It is a con on gullible underclass people who have no idea how the production economy works.

    TOOTH FAIRY POLITICS!

  9. > The tax breaks for middle class and low income families will also allow them to save money for emergencies, health, death,.,,

    But FEXXY, President Donald J. Trump — Peace be upon him — has ALREADY provided tax breaks for middle class and low income families.

    It would be sneaky and dishonest for Kamalalala to claim credit for this. I suspect she was likely among the saboteurs trying to blow up the Trump tax cuts.

    Maybe after you re-read and understand the Ten Commandments better, you could give a personal one-on-one tutorial to your favorite failing presidential candidate. You should probably hurry because it won’t be long before the Democrat campaign cabal will only know her as “Kamala who?”.

    Kamala stepped in it big time when she referred to Officer Darren Wilson as a “murderer”.

    Can’t do that, Kammy. Get out your checkbook.

    Lizzy Warren did much the same thing. No lawyer should EVER get away with this. No ACCREDITED Law School (Harvard) who has such a lawyer on their faculty should be allowed to keep their accreditation.

    If the Dems continue to try to sell either of this identity politics lunatics to voters, say goodbye to the white working class vote.

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