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‘Left out to dry’: Frustration brews in Eagle Pass as border bill fails



AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan border security bill sinks amid intractable political headwinds in Washington, Texans living and working in Eagle Pass expressed frustration that political leaders aren’t addressing the issues they see on the ground.

“Put on the back burner”

State Rep. Eddie Morales, an Eagle Pass Democrat who represents more than 770 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in the Texas House, says Washington’s failure to compromise has abandoned his community. He urged the U.S. House to pass the Senate’s plan in a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson on Monday.

“Mr. Speaker, it is now incumbent upon you to pave the way for our communities along the border to get the relief they desperately need,” Rep. Morales wrote. “Our communities should not be put on the back burner for the sake of politics and the aspirations of the former president… Our communities are watching to see if we are left out to dry.”

Morales accused former President Trump of using Eagle Pass as a “campaign stop.” Natives, pastors and activists have long echoed the same concerns as the border town becomes a top venue for Republican press events.

“Most of them have no experience with the border. They’ve never seen it. They don’t know any people who live along it,” Pastor Doug Paggit said. “We invite Congress’ leaders to come and join us and to meet these people, to see what’s going on — and not to do as the Governor did this weekend — which is to stand with flak jackets on surrounded by the military while you overlook a peaceful river.”

Locals feel like “pawns”

Gov. Abbott on Sunday hosted a briefing with more than a dozen Republican governors from across the country. The event was met with a counter-protest organized by progressive faith leaders and Eagle Pass locals.

“They’re using the people of Eagle Pass as pawns in a political game,” Eagle Pass activist Amerika Garcia Grewal said. “I really don’t like this political theater that is using my hometown for its own purposes.”

Garcia Grewal said the Senate’s border bill falls short of addressing the needs of her community.

She calls for additional investment in processing capacity in Eagle Pass, creating more legal pathways for people to seek refuge and more resources to reduce the backlog in asylum and work permit applications.

The Senate’s bill does address some of those concerns. The plan would have provided $4 billion to address asylum applications and hire more than 4,300 asylum officers, in addition to another $1.4 billion to help state and local governments handle immigrants.

Border Patrol support

On Monday, the National Border Patrol Union endorsed the Senate plan. The union, which represents more than 18,000 Border Patrol agents and staff, many of whom work and live in border cities like Eagle Pass.

The union has been especially critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the border. Their endorsement represented a win for Senate negotiators as they faced pushback from conservatives who traditionally side with Border Patrol.

“The Border Act of 2024 will give U.S. Border Patrol agents authorities codified, in law, that we have not had in the past.  This will allow us to remove single adults expeditiously and without a lengthy judicial review which historically has required the release of these individuals into the interior of the United States,” NBPC President Brandon Judd said in a statement shared by U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema on Monday. “While not perfect, the Border Act of 2024 is a step in the right direction and is far better than the current status quo.”



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