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Border town perspective on immigration reform

Republicans saw how poorly they fared among Latino voters in November and know they have more than a year until the next election cycle. Many in El Paso say those conditions make the timing right for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with bipartisan support.

Some lawmakers, though, demand more border security ahead of any discussion of reform. Those demands, many border residents say, amount to "meaningless rhetoric."

"This idea that we need more is just absurd," Fernando Garcia is the Executive Director for the Border Network for Human Rights, a grassroots organization based in El Paso that documents civil rights abuses. "We have done so much already, and we realize that some people, they don't want immigration reform."

Garcia said that over the past 10 years, BNHR has worked with the local head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and asked them to address reports of abuse by CBP agents.

CBP representatives declined to comment for this story.

Some officials in El Paso do want more boots on the ground, but not for security. Next week we look at the push to increase the number of customs agents to better facilitate the multi-billion-dollar trade across the U.S.-Mexico border.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Justin Dehn/Texas Tribune

A border agent in El Paso.