Folly of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill Becomes Clear In House Bill

Border Communities Welcome House Democrat Action on Immigration Reform and the Rejection of Corker/Hoeven Militarization Agenda

For Immediate Release: October 2nd, 2013

Today’s introduction of an immigration reform bill by House Democrats highlights that immigration reform does not have to further sacrifice border communities. The bill contains a bi-partisan approach to border enforcement which we might not agree in some provisions such as fencing and triggers, but clearly does not represent the Senate’s wasteful, unnecessary and harmful militarization of the border represented by the Corker/Hoeven provision.

“This bill represents a step back in the narrative around border enforcement,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “We have to recognize that Congressional Border Caucus Members led by Representatives O’Rourke (TX-16), Vela (TX-34) and Grijalva (AZ-3), bolstered by actions of border communities, set the stage for House Democrats rejecting an ill-advised border surge.”
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BREAKING: 6 More Arrested in Texas Protesting Border Militarization

Six More Arrested in Austin

They were protesting the militarization of border communities 


(AUSTIN, Texas) – Six more people were arrested today in Austin, Texas protesting the border militarization provisions in immigration reform.

Their arrests come two days after three were arrested at the Democratic Party headquarters in Dallas, where they were also protesting militarization.

About 300 people people flooded 6th Street in Austin just before rush hour. They shut down traffic, blocking cars with giant cardboard fences — representing the border wall. Protestors demonstrated in front of the fence and handed out leaflets with information on the humanitarian crisis of migrant deaths at the border. Militarization forces migrants into the hands of criminals who promise to get them to the U.S., but who often abuse, exploit or abandon them. Those making the journey alone are pushed into the most dangerous, most remote areas. Falfurrias, Texas is one such area where the number of bodies is overwhelming the small police force there.

The protest was a die-in. Think sit-in.

With faces painted to represent the hundreds who die in the desert, protestors laid down in front of the cardboard fence and stopped moving or responding to people around them.

Police were eventually called and had to carry each limp protestor off the street before arresting them.

As protestors staged the die-in, the Senate was taking a vote to pass their immigration reform package. The deal was poisoned Monday with the adoption of the Corker-Hoeven amendment. The amendment represents a concession to the border-enforcement-first crowd and will double Border Patrol ranks, double the border wall, bring 18 border drones and new Black Hawk helicopters plus an array of military weapons and surveillance technology. The deal was touted as a way to get to 70 votes in the Senate. The amendment passed with only 67.

Today’s event is the last in a two-week long statewide caravan for citizenship and accountable enforcement that began in El Paso. Caravaners marched into offices of John Cornyn and Ted Cruz in Harlingen, San Antonio and Dallas.  On Wednesday, about 50 people shut down Democratic Party headquarters in Dallas — leading to the arrest of three caravaners.

The inclusion of militarization in the immigration reform deal means it is no longer about families and American values, the protestors argue. Carrying messages that compared the U.S.-Mexico border to the Korean DMZ, and asked “Is this reform?”

After their friends were arrested, the crowd then went to the jail to protest for the quick release of “the Texas Six.”

BREAKING: The Broder Three are Free!

The Border Three Are Free!

Thank you all for your calls and messages of concern. Due to your diligence, we won an expedited process this evening to release the “Border Three.” Teresa Nevares, Fernando Garcia, and Daniel Diaz are resting tonight and will continue with the Caravan. Expect to hear more soon.

Three #Texas4CIR Caravaners arrested for protesting border militarization

They took them away

They have just taken Fernando Garcia, Daniel Diaz and Teresa Nevarez away in handcuffs for protesting border militarization and the fact that Senators traded off broder communities to win political points.
We were protesting at the Democratic Party Headquarters in Dallas during our #Texas4CIR Caravan tour of the state. We were here in Dallas to denounce our own senators for their anti-immigrant stance on immigration reform when we heard the news yesterday that border communities had been traded off by Senators who voted to accept the Corker-Hoeven amendment.
This amendment changes the face of immigration reform.
It brings massive militarization to the border. It means more drones, more walls, new Black Hawk helicopters and doubling Border Patrol to be the largest paramilitary force in the U.S. This amendment makes the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 6 million U.S. residents live and work, one of the most militarized borders in the world. It’s no accident that military contractors are going to win big under this new regime.
This was supposed to be about our lives, our rights and our future. What happened to immigration reform that focused on families and American values?
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. Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at http://texas4cir.tumblr.com/

DISPATCH Day 5: They tried to shut down the #Texas4CIR Caravan in San Antonio

They tried to shut down the #Texas4CIR Caravan in San Antonio

Building managers cut off power to the elevators to stop Texans from going to a scheduled meeting with John Cornyn’s staff, but police restored order

The scene at John Cornyn's San Antonio office after police had building managers unlock elevators and emergency stairways. Photo from the San Antonio Express News.

(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) – #Texas4CIR Caravaners joined more than 50 San Antonians Friday to march from San Antonio City Hall to the Downtown offices of Sen. John Cornyn.

The marchers were there to tell the senator that his attempts to obstruct immigration reform by adding obscene amounts of border enforcement are not what Texans and Latino voters want.

When they arrived, a local reporter and a small group of caravaners used the elevators to get to the Senator’s second-floor office. That’s when a building manager kicked marchers and caravaners out of the returning elevators and manually shut off the power. He then locked all of the buildings’ stairways.

It took police to restore order and get the elevators turned back on. Sen. John Cornyn’s staff, however, would not open their office door until police arrived to escort RITA members inside.

At that point, 5 people were allowed inside (with police escort) for a conversation with Cornyn’s staff. There, we delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures, including those of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and former mayor Henry Cisneros.

San Antonians had tried to deliver the petition 3 times before, but were stopped and escorted out by police every time, according to Shannon Perez of SEIU Texas.

Though they were able to deliver petitions this time “it was the worst they’ve treated us,” Perez said. “The amount of police and shutting people in elevators, hiding behind building managers is a good way to hide from your constituents.”

Caravaners then made their way to the San Antonio office of Ted Cruz. The meeting there was short and sweet, his staff saying the senator didn’t agree with them on anything. Police followed and circled the building during the meeting.

But the action wasn’t over. Caravaners joined San Antonians for a phone bank before heading for Houston.

Before landing in San Antonio, Caravaners visited Corpus Christi for a press conference outside the offices of Rep. Blake Farenthold. Caravaners asked his staff there to consider the humanitarian crisis of migrant deaths and to clarify his position on DACA, which he recently voted to defund. Rep. Farenthold answered on Twitter:

 

The Caravan also stopped Thursday in Falfurrias, which is ground zero for the migrant deaths crisis. There, caravaners talked to Brooks County Deputy Chief Benny Martinez about his worries that the current immigration reform proposal doesn’t take into account what’s happening in Falfurrias.

The photos of the dead were indescribable.

Martinez has a force of 5 people, but says he needs at least 20 more to be able to handle the amount of dead bodies found in the county. On top of that, his department deals with the brutal crimes of coyotes who rape, kill, threaten and abandon migrants who have contracted them to guide them to the U.S.

Martinez says he has asked Austin and Washington for help, but fears no one is listening. Martinez and his department have been documenting the crisis and had four jumbo binders of photos and reports of human remains to show caravaners.

The Caravan left Thursday afternoon headed for Houston with 7 more caravaners in tow.

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.

Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at texas4cir.tumblr.com.

#Texas4CIR Caravan Day 3: More than 150 Demand to Meet with Sen. Cornyn in the Valley

#Texas4CIR Caravan Day 3: More than 150 Demand to Meet with Sen. Cornyn in the Valley

Taking Action in front of the Harlingen office of Sen. Cornyn, Caravan Riders Call Out Cornyn and Cruz for trying to Derail Immigration Reform

(U.S.-MEXICO BORDER, Texas) –  Sen. John Cornyn was too busy setting policy that would impact millions of Texans to meet with those Texans today.

Ana at @JohnCornyn's #harlingen office says he will meet with us if we ask. Juanita of @LUPE_rgv says we've tried.

After sending requests for a meeting to both the D.C. and Harlingen offices of Sen. Cornyn, #Texas4CIR Caravan riders were disappointed in the Rio Grande Valley today. More than 150 people converged on the Harlingen District Office of Sen. John Cornyn to deliver a message. “We are deeply disappointed that both of our senators have never met with Texas communities to talk about immigration,” said Martha Sanchez of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), and a member of RITA. “And we are not taking no for an answer anymore.”

Communities in the Rio Grade Valley staged a People’s Debate outside Cornyn’s office. One after the other, families impacted by a broken immigration system and a militarized border made their arguments for and were answered by the silence of an empty podium representing Cornyn’s and Cruz’s failure to meet in person with Texans.

The 150 people then went upstairs to ask Cornyn’s staff why he refused a meeting with Texans. “The answer they gave us was that he is just too busy writing bills that would militarize the border and block millions of undocumented Texans from ever starting on the pathway to citizenship,” said Dina Nunez of Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos, and a member of RITA.

Caravan riders have already requested meetings with Cornyn and Cruz in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin. They remain hopeful that the senators will answer to Texans in person.

After leaving Harlingen, the caravan made the short drive to Brownsville for an afternoon press conference and action organized by the Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos. Here, more than 100 people demonstrated against mass detention and deportation and the abuse of border communities by federal and local law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the caravan met with local leaders in Laredo including Mayor Raul Salinas, Sister Rosemary Welch of the Sisters of Mercy and representatives from the office of  Congressman Henry Cuellar and Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar. The group discussed the need for immigration reform. All supported the idea that border stakeholders including communities, local elected officials, faith leaders, business owners and others must have a seat at the table when border policy is made.

 

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.

 

Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at texas4cir.tumblr.com. http://texas4cir.tumblr.com/

DISPATCH: Day 1 of the #Texas4CIR Caravan hits Marfa & Del Rio

#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

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Caravan riders with County Judge Paul Hunt in Marfa.

(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/148507437/DHS-Border-Oversight-Task-Force-Sign-On-Letter. Allen signed on Monday and Hunt agreed to look it over, but said he supported the idea.

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

Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at texas4cir.tumblr.com.http://texas4cir.tumblr.com/

The Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance (RITA) believes that Texas should be front and center in the debate over immigration reform. We are a multi-sector statewide network dedicated to building support for comprehensive immigration reform. RITA presents a common, pro-reform voice and push to fix America’s broken immigration system with fair, humane and sensible policies that foster America’s strength, security and prosperity.