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Democrats unmoved by Trump’s State of the Union bid to break gridlock on border security

Top Democrats signaled on Tuesday that President Trump’s State of the Union address did little to convince them that a legislative compromise to construct his proposed border wall is possible, as another potential partial federal government shutdown over the White House’s long-promised project looms.

In his remarks, Trump made no mention of an emergency declaration to fund the wall, which his administration has floated as a possibility. But the president made clear that, one way or the other, the structure will eventually be completed, declaring: “I will build it.”

“I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country,” Trump said, in a speech that variously referred to both “walls” and “barriers” at the border.

“Simply put, walls work and walls save lives,” Trump added. “So let’s work together, compromise and reach a deal that will truly make America safe. … This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier –not just a simple concrete wall.”

But with the current temporary spending bill funding portions of the government set to expire Feb. 15, several progressives in Congress — both before and after Trump’s speech — registered sharp disapproval of Trump’s comments. New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, did not applaud even as Trump discussed the need to end human trafficking at the border, and she later compared the event to a “campaign rally.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, listens as President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, listens as President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“I think that the president was unprepared,” Ocasio-Cortez said later Tuesday in an interview with MSNBC. “I don’t think that he did his homework.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, told Fox News she was “saddened” Trump had not discussed gun violence in his speech, and she condemned what she called his “fearmongering” on illegal immigrants.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: ‘CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT,’ WALL OR BARRIER, DOESN’T MATTER TO US

“I’m optimistic about what the appropriators are doing,” Pelosi said, when asked how she felt Trump’s address would impact ongoing bipartisan negotiations in Congress on border wall funding. “The only problem is if he would stand in the way of that path.”

Still, there were moments Tuesday night in which Pelosi appeared to warm to some of Trump’s statements. At one point during the address, Pelosi waived off Democrats who began to groan audibly when Trump mentioned an approaching migrant “caravan” at the border. And the House Speaker applauded briefly when Trump asserted that the U.S. would never become a socialist country, even as many Democrats remained expressionless.

Also speaking to Fox News, Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons called for more substance from the White House.

“There were a number of potentially engaging proposals,” Coons said. Nevertheless, he added, “They lacked details.”

New York Democratic Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand, who has announced she is planning a White House bid, spotlighted her displeasure with the address on social media, tweeting out C-SPAN video of her eye roll reaction GIF and asking for campaign donations.

Gillibrand, once a moderate when she represented upstate New York in Congress, is now one of the most outspoken advocates for eliminating Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She admitted in 2009 when she was appointed to the Senate that she would have to change her views because she now represented “the whole state,” rather than a traditionally conservative enclave.

Perhaps most notably, Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate, blamed Trump for the recently concluded partial federal government shutdown in the Democratic Party’s official response to the State of the Union.

The remarks by Abrams, a rising Democratic star who made history Tuesday night as the first African-American woman to deliver a formal State of the Union response, suggested Democrats are confident that any future shutdown can similarly be blamed on the White House — and that compromise may not be necessary.

“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers,” Abrams said. “They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks. “Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace.”

Abrams continued: “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people–but our values.”

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Vice President Mike Pence, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks on, as he arrives in the House chamber before giving his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Vice President Mike Pence, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks on, as he arrives in the House chamber before giving his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

REPUBLICANS TROLL ‘SOUR GRAPES’ ABRAMS FOR SUGGESTING HER ELECTORAL LOSS IN GEORGIA WASN’T LEGITIMATE

Abrams delivered her speech in the metro Atlanta area, surrounded by Georgia activists, labor leaders, health care professionals, educators, entrepreneurs, voters and her family, after Trump delivers his message. Abrams has said she accepts that Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp defeated her in last year’s election, but she has repeatedly suggested he is not the state’s “legitimate” governor — insinuations she repeated again on Tuesday.

“Let’s be clear: voter suppression is real,” Abrams said. “From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy. While I acknowledged the results of the 2018 election here in Georgia – I did not and we cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote.”

President Donald Trump acknowledges women in Congress as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., watch, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump acknowledges women in Congress as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., watch, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In his statement, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez implied the White House has lost its moral authority on illegal immigration.

“Separating families does not unify our nation,” Perez said, referring to Trump administration’s increased enforcement of existing immigration law, which resulted in more illegal immigrant parents being detained even though their children could not be similarly incarcerated. “Taking away people’s health care does not unify us. Blocking access to the ballot box does not unify us. Shutting down the government does not unify us. Building walls does not unify us.”

TRUMP CHALLENGES PELOSI: IF BORDER WALLS ARE IMMORAL, WHY NOT DESTROY EXISTING WALLS?

Separately, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md, charged that Trump had “leaned on falsehoods and fear to obscure the reality of a presidency lacking in leadership and harmful to America’s future.”

Hoyer, who has previously told Fox News that border walls “obviously” can work in some cases, vowed to press ahead with legislation designed to benefit so-called “Dreamers,” or illegal immigrants brought to the country as children.

Trump announced last month that he was prepared to back a three-year extension of protections for 700,000 such immigrants, who were were shielded from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But in exchange, Trump demanded $ 5.7 billion for border wall and security funding — making the proposal a nonstarter with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has called such a wall an “immorality.”

“We will bring forward measures to … protect DREAMers,” Hoyer said Tuesday. Hoyer earlier told Fox News he disagrees with Pelosi that walls are necessarily immoral.

“A wall is — that protects people is not immoral,” Hoyer told Fox News’ Bret Baier in January. “The debate ought to be not on morality or racism.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Chad Pergram, and Jason Donner contributed to this report.

California’s Becerra warns legal challenge if Trump declares national emergency on border wall

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday warned that he is prepared to challenge President Trump in court should he declare a national emergency to fund the border wall.

Becerra’s remarks came during a nationally televised address as part of the Democrats’ Spanish-language response to Trump’s State of the Union address. He condemned Trump’s characterization of immigration, the partial government shutdown over the wall and the president’s threat to cut federal funding to the state’s communities devastated by wildfires, the Los Angeles Times reported.

TRUMP URGES BORDER WALL IN STATE OF THE UNION, SAYS TOLERANCE FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS ‘CRUEL’

“What we heard tonight was the same tired refrain of building walls,” Becerra said. “The idea of declaring a nonexistent state of emergency on the border, in order to justify robbing funds that belong to the victims of fires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts, to pay for the wall is not only immoral. It is illegal.

“We are ready to reject this foolish proposal in court the moment it touches the ground,” Becerra said.

CALIFORNIA EFFORTS VS. TRUMP COSTING STATE TAXPAYERS MILLIONS: REPORT

Becerra, 61, has so far has challenged the Trump administration in court 45 times as attorney general over federal actions on issues including immigration, healthcare, the environment, the U.S. census, education and the internet, the paper reported.

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Butterfly conservationists face off with excavators at border wall construction site

Fact Check: Construction on a new border wall?

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Fact Check: Construction on a new border wall? 03:06

(CNN)As President Donald Trump prepares to sell Congress on the border wall at Tuesday’s State of the Union, a butterfly conservation group is putting itself in the way of construction set to begin in Texas.

Equipment for the construction of the first new miles of southern border wall approved since Trump took office has been staged in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley region, a Customs and Border Protection official confirmed on Tuesday.
These first new miles of wall are funded with last year’s congressional appropriations, and are part of two projects — totaling 14 miles — in the Rio Grande Valley that will be built in the location of an existing levee wall. While these will be new miles of wall, they are not part of the President’s $ 5.7 billion push for wall construction, which triggered a standoff that led to the federal government’s longest-ever shutdown last month.
But the construction is running into opposition from the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, a 100-acre wild butterfly habitat. The brewing fight on the border underscores the ugly political reality of the wall: Even if Trump wins wall money in Washington, the administration will still face an array of challenges to getting anything built.
    A photo posted by the butterfly center appears to show one of the first excavation vehicles that will be used on the wall construction project. The CBP official could not confirm the photo, but did confirm that an excavator had been staged on US Fish and Wildlife Service property near the center.
    The first excavator is parked on land “immediately to the east of us,” the center posted on its Facebook page Sunday. According to the nonprofit, the local police department informed them that they will have “no access” to their “own land south of the levee” as of Monday.
    “Effective Monday morning, it is all government land,” the Mission Police Department officer told the center Sunday, according to the social media post.
    CNN has reached out to the Mission Police Department for additional information.
    The National Butterfly Center has been fighting the wall construction in court for more than a year, first filing suit in December 2017 against the Department of Homeland Security over the government’s plans.
    Executive Director Marianna Trevino-Wright told CNN that protesters have arrived to rally against the wall construction. She said more heavy equipment arrived in the area on Monday and she expects more protests “both for and against” the wall.
    The center’s lawsuit accuses the administration of violating environmental legislation and the Constitution while threatening to take property away from the butterfly center without “just compensation.”
    “The issue is not whether butterflies can fly over a wall, but whether private property (farms, businesses, homes) should be seized and destroyed for a project that does not serve the greater good or enhance national security,” wrote the butterfly center in a GoFundMe posting in December.
    The center is a 100-acre wildlife facility and botanical garden in South Texas that abuts the Rio Grande and is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Lower Rio Grande Wildlife Corridor, according to court documents.
    According to the lawsuit, “proposed border wall construction would cut off two-thirds of the Butterfly Center, effectively destroying it and leaving behind a 70-acre no-man’s land between the proposed border wall and the Rio Grande.”
    In a response to the lawsuit, government attorneys said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen published an environmental waiver and found that certain areas within the Rio Grande Valley region, including the area along a levee running through the butterfly center’s property, “are areas of high illegal entry and require construction of additional border infrastructure.”
    Trevino-Wright said the case in “languishing” in the courts and that she is exploring additional legal action.
    There are 80 cases related to barrier construction from years past still outstanding, according to the Justice Department.
    Over the past weekend, CBP announced in a press release that heavy equipment for the levee wall was on its way and might be seen entering the Rio Grande Valley as early as this week.
    This is part of a 6-mile project in Hidalgo County, Texas, that was announced in November to construct and install a reinforced concrete levee wall to the height of the existing levee, as well as 18-foot-tall steel bollards on top of the concrete wall.
    It will also include vegetation removal along a 150-foot zone, technology, lighting, video surveillance and an all-weather patrol road parallel to the levee wall.
    The Rio Grande Valley region “remains an area of high illegal cross border activity,” said the CBP press release at the time. “In FY 2017, (US Border Patrol) apprehended over 137,000 illegal aliens, and seized approximately 260,000 pounds of marijuana and approximately 1,192 pounds of cocaine” in the sector, added the release.
      According to CBP, the walls system “will serve as a persistent impediment” to transnational criminal organizations, while still allowing river access for property owners.
      CBP officials have previously said that construction on the first new miles of wall was slated to begin in Texas in February. There is no firm update on timing for the start of construction, the CBP official told CNN on Tuesday.

      Congressional negotiators report progress narrowing gap on border talks

      SOTU SHELBY FULL_00030807

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      (CNN)Bipartisan negotiators were upbeat but cautious Tuesday as they signaled publicly for the first time they were moving closer together on long-stalled talks related to President Donald Trump’s demands to fund a border wall with Mexico.

      But the big question mark is whether Trump will sign onto what the negotiators agree to or scuttle a potential deal and carry out his threat to declare a national emergency and build the wall without the consent of Congress.
      “The gap is narrowing so I would say things are moving down and things are moving up,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican and member of the negotiating committee, suggesting Democrats and Republicans were coming off their hardened positions.
      Asked if Democrats were coming up from their original offer on border security and the two sides were moving closer to meet in the middle, Sen. Jon Tester, a Democratic negotiator from Montana said, “that’s correct.”
        The upbeat assessment came in the hours before Trump is set to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress where he is expected to address the talks that could determine if he can keep his campaign promise to build the wall to stem illegal immigration, drugs and other crime.
        It also came a day before negotiators were set to hear testimony from what Republicans described as non-political border security experts in a private session in the Capitol.
        Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who chairs the Appropriations Committee and is spearheading the talks, spoke to Vice President Mike Pence to update him on the progress.
        “I told him the environment improved, the tone’s improved. But we are long way from getting there,” Shelby said. “I think (Wednesday) will be important. How the meeting goes tomorrow. What people take out of the meeting and how we act upon, interpret and act on what we learned.”
        Asked if he agreed with the assessment of others that the talks were narrowing, Shelby replied, “I’m not at liberty to say, I’m just saying the tone’s improved. We are talking about substance.”
        Another Democratic negotiator, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democratic leader, wouldn’t tell reporters if he was prepared to give Trump more money for the border.
        “I’m not going to bargain with you here. But I’ll just say the conversation is on and it should be. At this point, I still have some hope, unlike the President,” he said.
        Earlier, Durbin said he didn’t believe Democrats would agree for more money for border security.
        “I don’t have any other reason to believe otherwise” he said when asked if wall money won’t be in a final deal. He said talks are on hold because they don’t know what Trump will say Tuesday night.
        “We are on hold until the speech is completed.”
          Shelby defended having the still unnamed border security experts testifying out of public view, arguing they need to be free to be “candid.”
          “And we want them to be free to tell us unambiguously what they need, why they need it, and why it’s important,” Shelby said.

          Mayor of Mexico border city dubbed ‘Tijuana Trump’ blasts caravan migrants, calls them ‘bums’ and ‘pot smokers’

          Several weeks ago a Mexican federal judge ordered Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum to stop being hostile to migrants on the caravan that started in Honduras.

          The ruling bans Tijuana officials from “issuing statements contrary to the protection of and respect for migrant people.

          Gastelum, a 65-year-old attorney, is not listening.

          Called “Tijuana Trump,” Gastelum repeatedly has expressed his objections to the caravan and called for its organizers to be identified and prosecuted for taking advantage of desperate people and putting their lives at risk.

          What most rankles immigration advocacy groups are his characterizations of caravan migrants — thousands of whom have arrived in Tijuana, overwhelming its shelters and other resources – as invaders and criminals.

          In local interviews, Gastelum, who occasionally has worn a “Make Tijuana Great Again” hat, said the caravan included “pot smokers, bums and bad people.”

          “Tijuana is a city of migrants but we don’t want them [arriving] in this way. It was different with the Haitians, they had [immigration] papers, [their arrival] was orderly, it wasn’t a horde, excuse the expression . . .” he said, according to the Mexico News Daily. “These people arrive in an aggressive, rude way, chanting, challenging the authorities, doing what we’re not accustomed to doing in Tijuana . . . I don’t dare to say that it is all the migrants but there are some who are bums, pot smokers, they’re attacking families in [the beachside borough] Playas de Tijuana, what is that?”

          Recently, a human rights coalition called on Gastelum to apologize for his attacks on the migrants. Gastelum essentially responded that they should not hold their breath.

          Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum wears "Make Tijuana Great Again" hat.

          Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum wears “Make Tijuana Great Again” hat. (Twitter)

          “No, no, I’m not going to apologize,” he said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune “Better that those who are against Tijuana apologize to us.”

          “Tijuana is a migrant town,” he told the newspaper. “We’re barely 129 years old. My mom was a migrant. My grandparents were migrants. So, we are not afraid of migration. What we do not want is bad behavior.”

          Gastelum’s in-your-face style was unpopular among many residents when he won the mayoral election in 2016 with just a third of Tijuana’s 1.29 million voters casting ballots.

          POLICE IN RIOT GEAR LINE UP AT BORDER TO GREET MIGRANT CARAVAN AS US VOWS: ‘WE STAND READY’ 

          His approval ratings had been extremely low – only four percent — the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, almost since he began his term.

          But then the caravan of thousands from Honduras – and thousands more joining them along the way in El Salvador and Guatemala – headed toward Mexico, and many toward Tijuana, specifically, and suddenly many frustrated residents of the border city found Gastelum’s unvarnished and provocative style appealing.

          Now, Gastelum is the front-runner in the mayoral election.

          Tijuana is a migrant town. We’re barely 129 years old. My mom was a migrant. My grandparents were migrants. So, we are not afraid of migration. What we do not want is bad behavior.

          — Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum

          Victor Alejandro Espinosa, a political analyst at Tijuana’s Colegio de la Frontera Norte, likened Gastelum’s focus on the caravan and its popularity with voters to Trump’s speeches about the border and its appeal to his base.

          “It is a shame, but this could help explain the positive trajectory of support for the mayor among this segment of the Tijuana population,” he said.

          Gastelum’s critics say he is exploiting the transgressions and crimes of a small group – less than 300 out of some 6,000 who have ended up in Tijuana — to smear the entire caravan of migrants who are fleeing violence and poverty.

          They say that most of the crimes that Gastelum frequently speaks about are drug possession and being drunk in public.

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          Enrique Morones, the president of San Diego-based Border Angels, a human rights group, said that Gastelum’s rhetoric encourages violence.

          “How dare he call the migrants criminals, bringing diseases. He is promoting violence,” Morones said to the newspaper. “Hate words lead to hate actions.”

          Gastelum takes aim at Mexico’s national officials for being, as he sees it, too tolerant of the caravan at Tijuana’s expense.

          “I’m not going to compromise Tijuana’s economic resources to fulfill a wish of the federal government to try to show themselves as very humanitarian,” he said.

          “Why don’t they escort them to Ciudad Juarez or Nogales or Agua Prieta? No, instead they escort them here?” he asked.

          Trump, Kushner met with contractors to discuss building border wall

          Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met with contractors at the White House to discuss building the border wall late last week, two sources with knowledge of the meeting told CNN.

          Despite CNN reporting that several senior Senate Republicans and members of GOP leadership have raised serious concerns about the possibility of Trump bypassing Congress and using an emergency declaration to build his wall, the President's meeting with contractors shows that he is seriously considering doing so.
          The White House declined to comment on the meeting. White House counsel Pat Cipollone was also present.
          Trump came close to declaring an emergency after competing proposals to end the government shutdown both failed in the Senate at the end of January. But aides convinced him that waiting three weeks while a special committee of senators and representatives attempted to hash out a deal was a better idea. Then, if those congressional negotiators couldn't come up with an agreement that funded the wall, he could declare a national emergency.
            Trump has expressed doubt in recent days that the committee will find a solution he accepts.
            "Listen closely to the State of the Union," he said Friday when asked if he was ready to announce a national emergency.

            Trump says he’ll build ‘Human Wall if necessary,’ to protect southern border

            Ahead of his State of the Union address Tuesday night,  President Trump warned that he would use the military to form “a Human Wall” if he can’t get funding for his proposed barrier along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

            “Tremendous numbers of people are coming up through Mexico in the hopes of flooding our Southern Border,” Trump tweeted. “We have sent additional military. We will build a Human Wall if necessary. If we had a real Wall, this would be a non-event!”

            The president’s tweet comes just hours before he is set to deliver his State of the Union address, which was initially delayed amid the partial government shutdown. That standoff, which has only temporarily been resolved, was triggered by Trump’s demand for border-wall funding, which Democrats rejected. Trump on Tuesday night is expected to make immigration and border security a centerpiece, and it comes days after the Pentagon announced the deployment of 3,750 more active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico.

            MORE TROOPS HEADING TO US-MEXICO BORDER, PENTAGON SAYS

            A congressional committee is currently working to reach a deal on border security funding to avert another partial government shutdown, but Trump has hinted at declaring a national emergency if the deal doesn’t include funds for a border wall.

            Trump already ordered the deployment in October 2018 of more than 2,000 troops to the border in response to the impending arrival of a caravan of asylum-seekers from Central America.

            STATE OF THE UNION TO CONDEMN RESISTANCE POLITICS

            The Pentagon has approved an extended U.S. deployment to the border through the end of September.

            Members of Congress have questioned whether the border mission is distracting troops from their work of fighting extremists abroad and training for combat. The first active-duty troops were sent to the border on about Oct. 30 for a mission that was to end Dec. 15. It has since been extended twice.

            “What impact does it have to readiness to send several thousand troops down to the Southern border? It interrupts their training. It interrupts their dwell time,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a hearing last Tuesday.

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            Vice Adm. Mike Gilday, the director of operations for the Joint Staff, told the panel that he does not believe military readiness has been significantly affected. He said some units have missed training opportunities because of the deployment and others have seen less time at home between deployments than the military likes to provide.

            But he said there is an effort to rotate service members in and out of the mission every six to eight weeks in order to minimize any impact.

            The Associated Press contributed to this report,

            2,000 migrants expected to arrive in Mexican border town neighboring Eagle Pass, Texas

            A shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico awaits a group of 2,000 Central American migrants who are heading to the Mexican border town.

            A shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico awaits a group of 2,000 Central American migrants who are heading to the Mexican border town.

            (CNN)The Mexican border town of Piedras Negras was expecting the arrival of 2,000 Central American migrants on Monday, according to Guatemalan Consul Tekandi Paniagua in Del Rio, Texas.

            The city is on the Rio Grande river, across from Eagle Pass, Texas.
            The migrants — of whom about 1,300 are from Honduras, 200 are from Guatemala and 400-500 are from El Salvador — were being transported by state authorities from Saltillo, Mexico to Piedras Negras, according to Paniagua.
            Authorities gave the migrants access to 50 buses. Half of the fleet had arrived in the Mexican border city by Monday evening, Paniagua said.
              Piedras Negras authorities have been making arrangements for days in anticipation of the migrants.
              Paniagua said “everything is under control.” When asked about the intentions of the migrants to request asylum, Paniagua said their first priority is to get them settled in “humane conditions.”

              Migrant caravan to reach US border day before Trump’s State of the Union

              SALTILLO, Mexico — More than 2,000 migrants boarded dozens of buses provided by the Mexican State of Coahuila en route to the border city of Piedras Negras, where a shelter with federal resources awaits them.

              The caravan will arrive at the border on Monday, a day ahead of President Trump’s State of the Union speech – and on the heels of the Pentagon’s announcement that nearly 4,000 troops will be deployed to the region in the coming weeks.

              For many of the migrants, who began this journey on Jan 15 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, it is the final destination before they attempt to cross into the U.S. either legally by claiming asylum at a port of entry or illegally at various spots along the Texas border.

              Central American migrants settle in a shelter at the Jesus Martinez stadium in Mexico City, in Mexico City, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Thousands of Central American migrants are waiting for Mexican officials to issue them humanitarian visas, which give them permission to be in Mexico for one year and work legally. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

              Central American migrants settle in a shelter at the Jesus Martinez stadium in Mexico City, in Mexico City, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Thousands of Central American migrants are waiting for Mexican officials to issue them humanitarian visas, which give them permission to be in Mexico for one year and work legally. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

              “For security reasons, I cannot say which way we’re going to take,” says Antonio Morales of El Salvador who intends to cross illegally.

              MEXICO CONFIRMS ENDING FAST-TRACK VISA PROGRAM FOR CENTRAL AMERICAN CARAVAN

              “Plus, if Mr. Donald Trump is watching, I can’t tell you where I’m going to go to get into your country,” he said.

              As far as official support and coordination with the caravan from Mexico, here in Coahuila it is highly organized and substantial.

              Last night, the governor of Coahuila Miguel Riquelme greeted the migrants with welcoming arms, food, shelter, phone calls, haircuts and health care.

              The official twitter account of Coahuila announced that the caravan was on its way to the border.

              “The Governor @mrikelme oversaw the support for the #CaravanaMigrante, which leave tomorrow morning in the direction of the frontier city of #PiedrasNegras.#FuerteCoahuilaEs

              Monday morning, the Secretary of Coahuila Jose Fraustro oversaw the bus operation in Saltillo, telling Fox News that this is the best, safest, most efficient way to handle the situation given the migrants’ circumstances.

              LATEST MIGRANT CARAVAN BEGINS TO FLOOD MEXICO CITY AS ‘REMAIN IN MEXICO’ POLICY BEGINS

              But he also said the caravan should have been deterred or handled at Mexico’s southern border rather than allowing it to trek 1,300 miles across the country.

              Now he says many of them have health issues and will have to wait long periods of time if their goal is asylum in America.

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              Health officials here confirm that there are many respiratory infections, gastrointestinal conditions, five cases of chicken pox, one individual with HIV and one case of swine flu.

              Border Patrol agent killed while on duty in Texas: officials

              A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent died while working in Texas on Saturday, officials said.

              Agent Donna Doss, 49, was helping state police near Interstate 20 in Abilene just before 9 p.m., the agency said in a news release.

              BORDER AGENTS REPORTEDLY DISCOVER 60-FOOT TUNNEL TO MEXICO AT SOUTHERN BORDER

              While she assisted, Doss was “struck and killed by a passing vehicle” and died at the scene.

              Doss served the agency for more than 15 years, after beginning duty in November 2003.

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              “Agent Doss died while performing her duty, protecting the community and the United States,” Del Rio Sector Acting Chief Patrol Agent Matthew Hudak said. “Our heart, prayers, and support go out to Agent Doss’ family in this time of need.”