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What challenges do Afghan refugees face if they choose leave Ft. Bliss or Holloman AFB?

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- There's nothing stopping Afghan refugees from leaving Borderland military installations that have been set up to house them.

But if they choose to leave one of the two sites in the Borderland, they could face many challenges.

RELATED STORY: Congresswomen differ over vetting of 2,000 Afghan refugees at Holloman AFB

Afghan refugees face a nearly 10-mile trek from the Fort Bliss Doña Ana Range Complex to the closest town, Chaparral.

"It's far and it's really hot," Vanessa Ortiz, a Chaparral resident, said. "When we go in the car it's really far so I could only imagine walking."

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in late August said he'd been told by Fort Bliss officials that one Afghan refugee got an Uber ride from Doña Ana Range Complex to downtown El Paso.

ABC-7 attempted to do the same thing. When we tried there were no Ubers available and Lyft had very limited availability.

We tried the same thing at Holloman Air Force Base, where the closest town Alamogordo is 6 miles from the base. Once again there were no Uber rides available and Lyft had only very limited availability.

A general laborer who works on Holloman told ABC-7 that anyone is welcome to leave but the lack of transportation is the biggest obstacle. He said walking is an option but because of the heat they would have to do it right as the base opens at 6 a.m., or when it closes at 6 p.m., but even then - it is still risky.

"The highway with all the traffic, especially with construction, it would be pretty dangerous," Elias Ledesma, a general laborer at Holloman. said.

Another option is Ztrans, a local bus company that has a route that runs from Alamogordo to Holloman on Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"They could get rides with other people if they're willing to, but it's a little bit hard because they have that language barrier," Ledesma said.

ABC-7 Xtra / El Paso / Local News / New Mexico / News / Video

Rachel Phillips



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