Mayors from several state will visit Tornillo to discuss immigration policies

Mayors across the nation come to El Paso to protest immigration policy

Mayors from across the country are descending on El Paso to take a stand against immigration policies in the United States.

The mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors finished eating dinner in downtown El Paso on Wednesday night.

They tell CBS4 that El Paso is the perfect setting to show their opposition for what's happening right now on the U.S./ Mexico border.

"This is a bipartisan group of mayors. I think it's almost half Democrats and half Republicans. And everybody (is) speaking with a single voice," said Steve Adler, mayor of the City of Austin. "We have to do something about immigration in this country. We can't separate children and their families. There's got to be a more humane and American way to deal with these issues."

The mayors will arrive at the Tornillo Guadalupe Toll Plaza at 9 a.m. Thursday. They hope to get inside the tent facility and see what's going on first-hand.

Even after President Donald Trump signed the executive order Wednesday that is supposed to keep families together, mayors from across the country said they are here to take a stand.

"We've seen now pictures of children in cages, and that's just not a really good place for children to be. It's not a good place for children to be WITH their parents," Adler explained. "So we really need to take a look at immigration in a much more holistic way. We really need to do something. So even with the executive order, there's still a lot of work to be done."

"For decades, we encouraged people to come into this country because we wanted the economic development engine that they helped fuel and support," Adler continued. So a country like ours can't look back now and not on what it was that we had done. We need to find a way to not only keep our borders safe, but also to treat fairly and humanely ... the immigrants that are here."

As for whether their agenda in Tornillo on Thursday has changed, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said their mission is still the same.

“From my perspective, the focal point on the separation of children, probably not. However, it still doesn’t change the root cause for all of the problems to begin with, and that’s our immigration system. That’s something that should have been done over the last 20 or 30 years when we’ve had the opportunities to do it," Margo said.

The executive order still maintains the zero-tolerance policy.

"It doesn't say anything about the children who have already been separated from their families, and what happens to them," Adler said.

Each mayor is here in El Paso to express and represent the cultures and views of their own communities.

“We need to protect our borders. I don’t disagree with that with our president. We have a fence here already. To me, a wall conjures up in my mind the Berlin Wall. That’s not what we’re about. That sends a bad message," Margo said. "We need to control our borders, but we need a rational immigration process and we need to deal with the undocumented immigrants who are already here, who are basically being productive citizens below the radar.”

"I think it's also real encouraging, and real affirming, to actually see what happens when the public sees videos and listen to tapes, that the public stepping forward and expressing its views can ... change fundamental foreign policies. And I think that (is) something to be celebrated ... that the people spoke, and the government is at least trying to listen," Adler said.

“I really think the positive about these mayors coming in is we get to showcase El Paso. We are still an unknown jewel," Margo said.

Margo said it give him a chance as mayor to advocate on behalf of this community to other significant communities.

"We know the border better than any other community. We are the largest U.S. city on the Mexican border. It is not San Diego. They are 15 or 20 miles away," Margo said.

“We have the largest bilingual, bi-national, bi-cultural workforce in the world of over 200,000 individuals right here on the U.S.-Mexico border within an average age of 31. The human capital resources we have here are worth more than the oil in the Permian Basin.”

The mayors will arrive at the Tornillo Guadalupe Toll Plaza at 9 a.m. Thursday. They hope to get inside the tent facility and see what's going on first-hand.

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