Gloria Chavez had rebuilt fractured relationship with local groups amid migrant humanitarian crisis
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The U.S. Border Patrol in El Paso is about to undergo a change in leadership.
Interim Chief Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez will be returning to her California post as Chief Agent of the El Centro Sector after spending six months in charge of the agents in El Paso and southern New Mexico, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said.
“The temporary assignment of CPA Chavez in El Paso Sector has ended and she will be assuming her previously held CPA position in the El Centro Sector,” a CBP spokesman told Border Report on Friday.
There was no immediate word on who would be succeeding Chavez on either an interim or permanent basis. Some local groups had been hoping that Chavez would stay on as the permanent chief agent of the El Paso Sector.
Chavez came to El Paso last summer after Chief Agent Aaron Hull was reassigned to Detroit without the agency giving a public explanation for the move.
Hull last year was the target of criticism from migrant advocates over the alleged conditions adult and child migrants endured while waiting days or weeks to be processed. Lawyers and activists alleged children lacked access to showers, toothbrushes, full meals and often slept on floors.
Chavez took the reins of the agency in El Paso just as the Central-American migrant wave of asylum seekers began to drop dramatically and processing centers steadily emptied. In August, she opened the doors to the new Tornillo soft-sided adult holding facility to the news media.
Some of the same activists who harshly criticized Hull praised Chavez, a 24-year veteran of the Border Patrol, for being more open to them.
“If that is the case, that she is leaving, it would be unfortunate. She had a vision we had not seen in someone in her position for a long time,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “She made a commitment to our community to respect people’s rights, to promote professionalism among agents and to be held accountable. That was the tone of all of the conversations we had with her.”
Chavez met with members of the organization several times and allowed for the continuation of “Hugs, Not Walls,” the group’s signature event in which families from Juarez, Mexico, are allowed to meet for a few minutes with their relatives in El Paso on the dry bed of the Rio Grande. “Hugs, Not Walls” had been suspended when Hull was in charge of the Border Patrol.
“It would be troubling if the next person in charge doesn’t share that same vision,” Garcia said.
The El Paso Sector includes 264 miles of border from east of El Paso to the New Mexico/Arizona border.
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