After Spending Two Nights Sleeping by the Fence / by Karie Luidens

2019-03-09 - El Paso fence.png

Interesting! In all the years-long clamor about whether or not the U.S. should build a border wall, here’s an argument I’ve never heard: since most stretches of barrier must necessarily be slightly within U.S. territory, anyone who approaches it will already have set foot on U.S. soil. And that has significant ramifications according to both international and national law.

On U.S. border, fence meant as barrier becomes lure for migrants

Andrew Hay, Lucy Nicholson, Jane Ross
MARCH 8, 2019

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) - Huddled against a border fence on a bitterly cold morning in El Paso, Texas, a group of 60 Guatemalan migrants, around half toddlers and children, shouted for help: “We’re cold, we’re hungry, we need shelter.”

The group was trying to surrender to U.S. Border Patrol agents and claim asylum, but the agents were too busy herding other groups along the fence that stands about 100 yards (91 m) inside U.S. territory.

The 18-foot-high (5.5 meters) steel barrier is meant to deter illegal immigration. But its position inside the border has turned it into a destination for human smugglers trafficking large groups of asylum seekers fleeing poverty and violence.

The smugglers in recent weeks have shifted routes to El Paso from the remote Antelope Wells area of New Mexico, Border Patrol supervisory agent Joe Romero said.

Once undocumented migrants are on U.S. soil, the Border Patrol is obliged to arrest them for entering illegally. But migrants can claim fear of returning to their countries, allowing them to remain in the United States legally until an asylum hearing, which can take months or years.

The smugglers’ strategy exploits a weakness in the very border wall President Donald Trump has touted as a means to protect the United States from undocumented immigrants and illicit drugs. […]

El Paso sector Border Patrol stations reached capacity on Wednesday, and the group of 60 was finally picked up at 5 a.m. Thursday, after spending two nights sleeping by the fence, according to Dylan Corbett, who helps run a migrant shelter operated by El Paso’s Roman Catholic diocese.