Manuel Perez tours border patrol station, calls for compassion

Assemblyman Manuel Perez Tours El Centro Border Station

CALEXICO, Calif. - Busloads of undocumented immigrants continue to arrive in communities around Riverside and Imperial county.  The "immigration crisis" continues to stir a debate on Capitol Hill as well.  

President Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to approve almost $4 billion to address a surge of young migrants from Central America crossing the border into Texas.  It drew fire from Republicans.  While the debate continues, children and families continue to get processed at Border Patrol stations throughout the Southland.  

Several buses used to transfer hundreds of undocumented immigrants sat parked inside the fence of the border patrol station in El Centro Tuesday afternoon; no protestors, no supporters, no riot police-- only quiet in the small town a short drive from the California-Mexico border.  A stark contrast to the station in Murrieta over the last week.  

"The difference between that area and here, folks in Imperial County are very open and compassionate," said Assemblyman Manuel Perez who took a tour of the border patrol station in El Centro.  

He spoke to families with young children and made sure they were being treated well while waiting to get processed and released.

"Are they having access to water and to food? Yes," said Perez.  "Are they having access to clothing?  Yes. Are they having access to medical? Yes."

Assemblyman Perez credits the success to efforts Border Patrol made to prepare for the immigrants and work with locals in the process.

"We're educating our community, we're also educating our agents with health issues related, so I think that makes a big difference," said Lombardo Amaya, a Border Patrol union representative.  

Once processed, Border Patrol says the immigrants get released to family members already in the U.S., many taking Greyhound buses to other parts of the country. For those who don't have sponsors, Perez says they can take refuge at nonprofits like "Neighborhood House" in Calexico.  

"They've been through a lot, they've been through in terms of trauma of what started the journey," said Ricardo Ortega from Neighborhood House. 

Assemblyman Perez says the state can only do so much.  He, like many others, believes it's going to take some sort of immigration reform to fix the system.  In the meantime, he agrees with the community in Imperial County which is putting the needs of these families first.  

"How can we help, what can we help, what can we do, now that they're at our door," said Ortega.  

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