United States, El Paso, Veronica Escobar discussed on PRI's The World
And we've reached day thirty two of the shutdown for some communities, including the border city of El Paso, Texas. The impact is adding up reporter Monica Ortiz Ariba spoke with several furloughed workers in El Paso, Monica. These furloughed workers they were at a meeting with two members of the US house of representatives. What was that meeting? Like, yes. So to freshman congresswomen. Of it. Only guys go Bod. And so she thought was small their districts are both along the US Mexico border in west, Texas and southern New Mexico respectively. They met with several federal worker union representatives and the head of the food Bank in Paso the to congresswoman wanted to hear their concerns as the shutdown drags on for a fifth week. Now, a Representative Escobar repeated some strong words she heard from a psychiatrist who works for the Federal Bureau of prisons. Please stop calling it a shutdown. The government's not shut down. We're all going to work. We're just not getting paid. If you want to shut the government down shut her down and let all of the prison guards. Go home for a day all the TSA agents. Go home for a day CB p ice you name it. And then you'll feel what a shutdown is really liked that was so profound Veronica Escobar there as well. As Representative Tori, small, they both Democrats. Yes. So Escobar represents. Passo border city that has had the kind of steel fencing that the president wants to build for close to a decade now while the fence has helped reduced crime and foot traffic in some neighborhoods. It's still hasn't stopped migrant families from coming across most of these families aren't trying to evade border patrol agents. Instead they walk right up to them and within El Paso city limits. The steel fence is a short distance north of the actual border. So these migrants can walk onto US soil before ever approaching the wall. So in that sense, it doesn't really serve as a deterrent. And what did the furloughed federal workers have to say to these two lawmakers from Washington? Well, I talked to union representatives from US customs and border protection. This is the agency that staffs the official ports of entry were millions of people cross into the US from Mexico legally. They also inspect the commercial traffic coming across. I should. No US. Mexico trade is worth more than half a trillion dollars annually. These officers are not only working without pay. They say they're working overtime several days in a row, there's been a longstanding shortage of customs officers and their union says the shutdown only exacerbates already bad situation. They tell me a batch of new recruits, for example, was set to start their training this year, but that was called off due to the shutdown and these new recruits were sent home the president talks about a wall stopping illegal drugs at the border. But the majority of those drugs are actually smuggled through these official ports of entry where these customs officers work or through the tunnels that we saw El Chapo cartel build. Yeah. These go underneath the ground underneath any kind of fencing or barrier. And it's not just federal workers that are feeling the pain. You also spoke to a local food Bank, which receives funding from the federal government. Correct. The CEO of the past. Oh foodbank. Her name is Susan Goodell. She says the food Bank provides thirty five thousand meals for people in need daily and a third of their food comes directly from the federal government. So does a quarter of their annual funding? The people they feed include both low income seniors and children at one hundred eighty two schools who rely on free breakfast and free lunch..