Veronica Escobar (D-Texas)
Veronica Escobar (D-Texas)

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A Democratic Congresswoman is sending her Congressional Staff to Mexico's northern border town in Ciudad Juarez to find migrants who returned from El Paso, Texas, under the "remain in Mexico" policy, then coaching them to pretend they cannot speak Spanish to exploit a loophole letting them return to the United States. The National Border Patrol Council's El Paso chapter and several Customs and Border Protection personnel told the Washington Examiner, Rep. Veronica Escobar has been sending her aides to interview and coach migrants who, according to them, may have been wrongly returned to Mexico.

“What we believe is happening is Veronica Escobar’s office is going … to basically second-guess and obstruct work already done by the Border Patrol,” said one senior union official, who shared evidence with the Washington Examiner from concerned CBP managers and rank-and-file members. Those documents have been held to protect identities. According to the U.S. Remain in Mexico policy, anyone who is to be returned to Mexico must be fluent in Spanish as they may be required to stay in Mexico for up to five years. A Democratic politician's aides reescorting people back to the port are telling officers the Central American individual with them cannot speak Spanish despite their having communicated in it days earlier, CBP officials said.

The union representative adds:

What we’re hearing from management is that they’re attempting to return people, and the story was changed in Mexico, where a person who understood Spanish before now doesn’t understand — where a person who didn’t have any health issues before now has health issues. They went through and interviewed everybody, cherry-picked them, brought them back, and now are using them as tag lines. They’re going over there and manufacturing a lot of these issues.

All three immigration officials who spoke to the Washington Examiner fear that the interview might be used to suggest the Border Patrol is wrongfully turning away a large number of asylum-seekers. According to Mark H. Metcalf, a former federal immigration judge, a criminal case would exist if Escobar were found to be complicit in an effort to perpetrate a fraud, which would have to include knowingly injecting false statements during interviews, follow-up conversations, and documents presented to U.S. officials.

A Department of Homeland Security official aware of the situation said Democrats, nonprofit organizations, and 2020 hopefuls:

- are furious that these migrants" are not permitted to "await their court dates in the U.S., where they have the opportunity to disappear and slip into the interior never to be seen again. By opposing a system that assists migrants and speeds wait times, these individuals are exposing a cause that looks more like a cover story for their political motivations. Any efforts to subvert and obstruct federal law enforcement operations should receive a full review.

As reported by the Washington Examiner:

In one incident, an Escobar aide and diocese official walked a male migrant over the bridge in June and asked for him to be admitted into the U.S. because they had found he had "cognitive disabilities." Officers took the boy and turned the case over to the Border Patrol, where an agent found a Constituent Information and Privacy Release Form with the U.S. House of Representatives seal on it inside the 17-year-old's file. Two officials said the paper would have to have been put in his file while he was interviewed in Mexico and was not supposed to have been left there because it would reveal to the Border Patrol that a member of Congress or their staff was meeting with migrants in Mexico.

The boy has since returned to Mexico because the medical condition was not diagnosed by a medical professional but by an aide of the congresswoman, one official said Friday.

“Management saw that form and was like, ‘What is this?’ and reached out to our International Liaison Unit. And ILU said, ‘Yes, Veronica Escobar and several other politicians are in Mexico trying to defeat the MPP program,'" the union said.

Officials only discussed one port of entry in El Paso but said they knew of three other incidents where Escobar's aides had walked back a “Remain in Mexico” program recipient.

Escobar's office did not return a request for comment.

Updated: Tue, Jul 23rd 2019 @ 3:25pm EDT