#Texas4CIR Caravan talks border policy with with County Judges in Presidio and Val Verde
Both judges affirm their support for more accountability in border enforcement and strengthening the DHS Border Oversight Task Force
(U.S.-MEXICO BORDER, Texas) – The first riders on the #Texas4CIR Caravan left El Paso Monday and met with County Judges Paul Hunt of Presidio and Laura Allen of Val Verde to discuss the impacts of border policy on border communities.
Hunt and Allen both agreed that the border is a place too few people understand.
Additionally, both judges said they thought that border communities must have a bigger role to play in setting border policy. Caravan riders asked them to support their cause of adding subpoena powers to the DHS Border Oversight Task Force, an accountability mechanism that is in the current immigration reform bill. Both judges agreed this was necessary to bring border communities to the table.
The Border Network for Human Rights, the organization behind the caravan, is circulating a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to strengthen the DHS Border Oversight Task Force with subpoena powers. The letter can be read online here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/
The letter with all the signatures of supporting organizations and individuals will be released this week.
During the meeting in Marfa, which is in Presidio County, Judge Hunt cited misconceptions and dramatization of border life as hurdles to creating better border enforcement policies.
In particular, Hunt decried that the image of the border as a scary, violent place. Unfortunately, he said, people don’t know the reality of border communities. Hunt recalled how his county hosted transnational games with the neighboring Mexican city that involved throwing a rope across the river to play tug-of-war. “We hosted our own little Olympics, you can imagine the alphabet soup of cooperation that required, but we did it.”
Hunt also shared with caravan riders that he sees a shift happening in the debate. “Security isn’t the first, second and third thing on the list of things to do anymore,” Hunt said. “Finally, I hear some people talking about efficiency, about commerce. That’s a breath of fresh air coming in.”
For her part, Allen said people have the wrong idea about the border. “People think we are living in a romantic old western,” Judge Allen said.
Allen, whose family owns a ranch that sits on the banks of the river dividing the U.S. and Mexico, said that she understand the issue well. She said that Border Patrol has been a help to her community, but that she didn’t need to see anymore. “If we turn this into a national problem anchored in El Paso and Laredo, where is everything going to funnel?” she said. “Well, right here [in Val Verde County]. I like things the way they are.”
The #Texas4CIR Caravan is a two-week long caravan that will visit 16 Texas cities and involve thousands of Texans, showing how intense support for immigration reform is in the state from a
Instead of standing up for the kind of reform that Texans demand, Cornyn and Cruz are fighting for more criminalization and militarization
(AUSTIN, Texas) – Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are continuing their out-of-touch assault on the bipartisan push for immigration reform. In doing so, they are in direct opposition to what the majority of Texans and Americans want.
Sen. Cruz joined other anti-immigrant extremists in the Senate by releasing a letter that says the bill doesn’t go far enough to militarize the border and rejects the pathway to citizenship that an ever growing majority of Americans support. In it, he re-affirms that he rejects immigration reform and isn’t interested in solving anything. In a state like Texas, this means fighting against the interests of millions of Texas families and Latino voters.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cornyn seems determined to derail the bill’s progress. Cornyn filed an amendment that would aggressively and completely seal the border. His amendment would also block the pathway to citizenship until a set of militarization goals are met on the border. The type of border Cornyn is trying to create puts all Americans’ rights on the line and would sacrifice an important part of the Texas state economy.
Both senators insist on repeating a 25-year-old talking point that the border must be secured first. “But a lot has changed on the border since 1986,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights and executive committee member of RITA. “For the senators to call for more militarization shows that they are out-of-touch with the reality on the ground. They certainly don’t seem to be talking about the Texas-Mexico border that we see.”
RITA calls on the senators to listen to Texans and stop their attempts to derail or kill immigration reform.
A diverse group of Texans condemned Sens. Cruz and Cornyn’s attempts to kill immigration reform as protestors take over Cruz’s office in D.C.
Police were called to Sen. Ted Cruz’s office in D.C. when his office was taken over by Texans and their allies who were denouncing his vote against comprehensive immigration reform.
Marco Malagon, Founder and President of the North Texas Dream Team, was in the room when 40-50 people took over Sen. Cruz’s office. At the same time, he was on a call with reporters and he condemned Sen. Cruz for taking an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant stance in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Malagon said that Cruz was wrong to attack the pathway to citizenship. “I want to be a citizen, I want to vote and I want to contribute,” he said. “He isn’t representing our community.”
The action was organized by The Fair Immigration Reform Movement and included DREAMers and religious leaders from Texas and other parts of the U.S.
Malagon’s comments to the press were cut short when those gathered in Cruz’s office began to pray. The prayers and shouts of “amen” drowned out Malagon and caught the attention of Cruz’s staff, who soon after called the police.
While Malagon and other Texans took action against Sen. Cruz’s anti-immigrant agenda in D.C., Texas denounced him back home on a press call happening at the same time.
Sen. Cornyn voted with Cruz to block immigration reform yesterday, sending outrage across Texas communities.
Local government officials had criticism for both senators. El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar condemned what she called a xenophobic tone from the senators and their ignorance of the border and immigrant communities.
“When we have senators from our own state saying the border isn’t secure, then they are ignoring the facts,” said Escobar. “And when our senators want to block the pathway to citizenship and then also create a second-class of citizenship by preventing even those people who become citizens from ever receiving benefits, then that is alarming to us.”
Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, said that Sen. Cruz was driven by ideology and that Sen. Cornyn is only following Cruz’s lead.
“When we have Sen. Cruz saying that we need more Border Patrol, it shows complete ignorance,” he said. “And the only way to explain that ignorance is that he has ideological and political reasons. It’s shameful to us that we have a senator who doesn’t recognize the reality of Texas. We are outraged at Cruz and and concerned that Cornyn might be just following his lead.”
Rogelio Nunez is the Executive Director of Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen, Texas, a legal services organization that helps people realize the dream of becoming U.S. citizens.
“What they need to understand is that 40% of Texans are Latino and that number is growing,” said Nunez. “Cornyn and Cruz aren’t reflecting the values of those Latinos or Texans in general. It is an insult to go against he family values of Texans and Latinos. The fact that other Republicans on the committee — and even Mitch McConnell saying he won’t block the bill —shows how far off Cruz and Cornyn are. I can only hope for a change of heart when the bill gets to the floor.”
Father Stephen Jasso of All Saints Catholic Church in Fort Worth urged Texans to pray for reform and for the senators to be moved to do the right thing.
“I want them to remember this — that immigrants are a blessing to our church and to our country,” Jasso said. “I really believe that and I pray for them to do the right thing and for the work people are doing to pass immigration reform.”
Sen. Cornyn’s Concern over Migrant Deaths must Match his Votes
The Senator is in the position to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the border, but has so far he has voted to aggravate it
However, as the senator laments this loss of life he forgets that the situation is a direct result of U.S. immigration and border policy and that as a senior senator he has directly contributed to the formation of these policies.
RITA shares the senators’ concern over the crisis of migrant deaths. However, we demand that he do more than make YouTube videos and write pieces for Fox News. He must vote for policies that fix the legal immigration system so as to offer migrant workers a safe, legal and orderly way to come to the country. The absence of an functional legal immigration system for migrant workers pushes them into the hands of the smugglers he denounces. He must also reject attempts to further militarize the border, which pushes migrants into the most remote, most dangerous places.
During the markup of the current immigration reform proposal in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Sen. Cornyn did not stand up for the migrants whose deaths this week he laments. During the Senate Judiciary Committee Markup of Titie I, the border enforcement section of the bill, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced an extreme amendment intended to kill the bill that called for tripling the size of Border Patrol and quadrupling border enforcement spending. Sen. John Cornyn voted with the tea party senator on this poison pill amendment.
Sen. Cornyn also blocked reform in 2006 and 2007. Since those votes, at least 2,500 migrants have died trying to cross the border, based on Border Patrol’s estimate of 500 deaths a year.
Texans deserve better than videos, we deserve votes that reflect our values — one of those being that no one should die in a desert because politicians are playing games on immigration reform.
Leaders from the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance Share their Reactions to the Bi-Partisan Legislation and What this Means Going Forward
The Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA) applauds the Senate bipartisan efforts in releasing the immigration reform bill early this morning -a moment that immigrant and border communities have long waited for.
The “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act” contains a series of important and positive starting points, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. However, the cutoff date for eligibility, 13-year waiting period and other restrictions will leave thousands of families out of the process.
RITA in partnership with communities across Texas will continue to advocate to expand the number of people eligible for this path to citizenship and to fight for compassionate reform that keeps families together, reunites those families who have been torn apart, and allows families to fully participate in American society in a reasonable amount of time.
Furthermore, the legislation would raise the cap on visas for high-skilled workers and create a new visa program for low-skilled workers. RITA recognizes the need for an immediate increase in visas for low- and high-skilled workers and stands firm that all those who enter the country on a work visa not only have the opportunity to apply for residency but for eventual citizenship. RITA partners will continue to raise concerns about the proposed mandatory employment verification system (E-Verify). The system is error ridden, too expensive, and hurts business owners and workers.
RITA applauds the inclusion of language to create DHS Border Oversight Task Force in the proposed legislation. The Task Force is about bringing border communities — that means local law enforcement, academics, elected officials, faith leaders, border residents and others — to the table when we talk about border enforcement. This creates better strategies for keeping all Americans safe, and we have the evidence of it.
At the border, we need an enforcement system that works and focuses on real threats – terrorists, drug smugglers and human traffickers – not people looking to work and raise a family in the U.S. This isn’t just what we think. A vast majority of Americans — 84% — believe that we should make stopping drug and weapon trafficking along the border a higher priority for border patrol than stopping illegal immigrants. The American people are right.
Today, RITA leaders will come together in various cities across Texas to provide additional comments o the bill.
Press Events in Response to Proposed Immigration Bill
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Press Conference on Proposed Immigration Bill & How Current Immigration Policy Tearing Families Apart
Where: Federal Building, 300 E. 8thStreet, Austin TX
Who: Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition,
Contact: Esther Reyes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-476-2472
Press Conference on Proposed Immigration Bill
Where: Dallas City Hall- Flag Room (6th Floor), 1500 Marilla St Dallas, TX 75201
Time: 12:00 pm
Who: North Texas Immigration Coalition
Contact: Danny Cendejas, email@example.com, 214-810-4636
Press Conference on Proposed Immigration Bill
Where: 4299 San Felipe, Suite #200, Houston, TX
Time: 1:00 PM
Who: Houstonians for Common Sense Immigration Reform
Contact: Will Hernandez, firstname.lastname@example.org, 832-515-9815
RIO GRANDE VALLEY
Press Conference on Proposed Immigration Bill
Where: LUPE’s San Juan office, located at the corner of Cesar Chavez Rd and Business 83, San Juan, TX
Who: Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network leaders and members
Contact: John Michael Torres, email@example.com, 956-534-0267
Business owners across the state will be calling the senator’s office throughout the week to explain why immigration reform is good business for Texans.
In addition, RITA partners have collected more than 500 petitions from small business owners in Texas asking Sen. Cornyn to support immigration reform.
New polling by Small Business Majority shows that business owners around the U.S. stand with Texans on the issue.
Consider what the poll of small business owners found:
- Nine in 10 small business owners recognize that our current immigration system isn’t working: A sweeping 88% of small businesses agree our immigration system is broken: 38% believe the system needs a complete overhaul and 50% believe it needs major improvement.
- The vast majority of small business owners support the bipartisan Senate proposal aimed at reforming our immigration system: Given the clear need for comprehensive reform, the current bipartisan Senate plan garners overwhelming support among small business owners: 84% of entrepreneurs support the proposal—including 86% of Republicans.
- The majority agrees that the most appropriate solution for handling our 11 million undocumented immigrants is to create a path toward citizenship: A vast three-quarters agree we would be better off if people who are in the country illegally became legal taxpayers, so they pay their fair share and can work toward citizenship in the future. That’s three times the percentage (26%) who say we would be better off if people who are in the country illegally were forced to leave the country because they’re taking Americans jobs.
- Strong majorities of small business owners agree it’s important to increase the number of both high and low skilled foreign workers legally allowed into the U.S.: 74% of small business owners agree it’s important for the country and the overall economy to allow more high skilled foreign workers who might work in the high tech industries into this country legally. In addition, 64% believe we should allow more low skilled foreign workers who might work in the agricultural, restaurant or service industries into this country legally.
Petitions and calls are coming from business owners in El Paso, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, The Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Houston.
Antolin Aguirre, who owns a small business in Austin, Texas, will be participating on the call Wednesday and is calling on other business owners to join the efforts this week. “I know what reform would mean for businesses like mine and I hope others who own businesses will call the senator this week,” Aguirre said. “Immigration reform is right for Texas, it’s just the right thing to do.”