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EDITORIAL: Use funds to add US immigration judges quickly

While the Omnibus $1.3 trillion spending bill, which Congress passed Thursday and President Donald Trump signed on Friday, contains controversial funds for a border wall through the Rio Grande Valley, it also contains much needed money to increase the number of immigration judges nationwide.

Enough money, in fact, to add 100 more U.S. immigration judges and their staff, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, told us.

Much thanks to Cuellar, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and who once again successfully lobbied to increase necessary personnel to this judiciary branch that plays such an important role in this national immigration debate.

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COMMENTARY: The fight against a border wall continues

Our fight to stop the border wall in the Rio Grande Valley just got harder.

Last week, Congress passed a budget bill that gives the Trump administration a billion and a half dollars for border walls, but does absolutely nothing to protect Dreamers.

The new law provides “$445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector,” according to the Omnibus bill language.

Ever since Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia and McAllen Mayor Jim Darling last year wrote to the secretary of Homeland Security suggesting levee-border walls, the Trump administration has been pushing the idea of turning all of Hidalgo County’s existing Rio Grande levees into levee-border walls. In 2009, 22 miles of our levees were turned into levee-border walls, and the scheme Garcia and Darling promoted would have converted the remaining 28 miles. With the three miles of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Alamo protected from a border wall, that leaves 25 miles, the exact amount in the bill.

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COMMENTARY: I am looking forward to 2042

In 2042, I will be 96 years old. New Year’s Day will be on a Wednesday and Easter Sunday will fall on April 6. Fossil fuels should be at the beginning of their end. Cars will be self-driving. We will eat less meat. Currency will become obsolete as electronic movement of money will be automatically added to blockchains of financial interactions.

But there will be one more change that will be subtle, slow, but increasingly obvious to all of us: By 2042, white people will become the minority population in the United States. Thanks to an immigration rate of 2 million people per year, I will no longer enter a restaurant and see a sea of faces that look just like mine. Colors of clothes and makeup will likely lend themselves to the bold colors that go well with warm skin tones, instead of the pastels and neutrals that suit cool Nordic coloring. My grandchildren will be in school, at work and choosing life partners from a population that does not look like me.

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EDITORIAL: The true definition of ‘chain migration’

As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., this week have debated over yet another stop-gap funding measure to keep the government running (or not,) once again the issue of Dreamers — children brought illegally to this country whose quest for U.S. citizenship has drawn harsh political divisions — have been bantered about as Republicans and the president openly mislead the public about U.S. immigration laws.

This feels like a repeat act in a bad play as our nation found itself in this very position just a few weeks ago, which resulted in a brief federal government shutdown.

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Congressional Democratic leadership role secured for RGV

With Republicans having secured a majority trifecta in Washington — the House of Representatives, Senate and presidency — Democrats in Congress no doubt will have a tough year(s) ahead.

That makes unity of the Democratic Party all the more important in the upcoming Congress, and will propel those who lead the party during this transition into roles of great historical importance for our nation.

Therefore we take great pride in learning this week that one of the Valley’s own, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a third-term Democrat from Brownsville, has secured just such a leadership position within the Democratic Party.

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Humanitarian costs increase, not reimbursed

For over two years, what used to be a community room at Sacred Heart Catholic Church has been transformed into a respite facility for helpless immigrants in downtown McAllen.

What was expected to last just weeks is now a well known landmark, so much so that tours of McAllen for media, politicians and even tourists, now include stops at what is now dubbed the Humanitarian Respite Center at Sacred Heart.

It truly is a site to behold and we are proud of the selfless volunteerism and support that our community and region has given to these immigrants. The efforts at this center are recognized worldwide, as is its leader, Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, who has met Pope Francis twice, spoken before the United Nations and been to the White House to explain the goings on down here.

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