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Yuma Chief on Negative View of Border Patrol: 'It's Disappointing and Disheartening'

File Photo by Victor Calderón/KAWC
Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Porvaznik of the Yuma Sector Border Patrol stands in front of border fencing east of San Luis, Ariz. as he speaks to reporters.

Negative attacks by some media outlets and some members of the public on Border Patrol agents are "disappointing and disheartening" as the agents he oversees treat those in their custody with dignity and respect, the chief patrol agent of the Yuma Sector told KAWC.

Chief Patrol Agent Anthony Porvaznik, in an exclusive interview with KAWC earlier this month, said that while the Yuma facility was overcrowded, he has seen agents treating migrants with care, particularly the unprecedented higher numbers of family units and unaccompanied children.

Two days before the previously scheduled interview with Porvaznik, NBC News reported dozens of cases of young migrants alleging mistreatment by some agents, including cramped sleeping conditions, homophobic slurs and, in one case, a male agent groping a teenage girl during a strip search in front of others.

Porvaznik and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have said that and other allegations are under investigation.

The alleged incidents occurred when agents were scrambling to process hundreds of migrants each day while having to house them in a detention facility originally built to hold Mexican male undocumented migrants. On a tour of that facility with reporters from KAWC and National Public Radio where photographs and recording devices were not permitted, migrants were found to be separated in rooms by single males, unaccompanied children, mothers with children and fathers with children.

In late June, agents opened a much larger, temporary tent facility in the back of the Yuma Sector Border Patrol property. Reporters were shown the sleeping areas with sleeping pads as well as shower and laundry facilities and rooms with supplies of food and water.

In recent weeks, the numbers of migrants surrendering themselves to the Border Patrol has decreased significantly due in part to warmer temperatures and the Migrant Protection Protocols program, which is also known as Remain in Mexico.

A migrant shelter operated by the Salvation Army in a Yuma strip mall has been closed as agency officials said they have been able to house migrants released to them in local motels.

What impact future U.S. immigration procedures have on migrant shelters and the area around the port of entry in San Luis Rio Colorado in Mexico remain to be seen.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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