Broken borders, Broken system

A multi-part series of editorials and columns regarding the issue of immigration reform.

When a surge of Central Americans descended on the Rio Grande Valley to cross into this country illegally in the summer of 2014, the cries to ‘Seal our border,’ and ‘Reform immigration’ reverberated across the country. The Monitor quickly determined that, beyond the rhetoric, many of those screaming the loudest had few specific policy recommendations to fix the problem. The Monitor editorial board began talking to law enforcement, policymakers, human rights activists, local readers and the immigrants themselves in search of answers. This series represents the culmination of at least six months of research and interviews with scores of people. It is presented on these pages in the hopes of spurring discourse about one of the most significant public policy debates to visit our country and our region in decades.

EDITORIAL: Militarization of RGV border will hurt, not help, our region

Here we go again.

Hundreds of National Guard troops on Friday began deploying to the Rio Grande Valley to guard the Southwest border, after President Donald Trump last week urged their activation, saying our border is lawless and allows anyone to come through.

“Our country has no effective border laws,” Trump tweeted.

We’ve played this song before, in 2014 when then Gov. Rick Perry activated 1,000 National Guard troops to our region as an uptick in illegal immigrants swelled through South Texas. At the time, we noted the restrictions that National Guard troops faced — not able to make actual apprehensions or arrests; not able to give chase. And so we ask how this time it will be better?

Continue reading EDITORIAL: Militarization of RGV border will hurt, not help, our region

EDITORIAL: Trump must negotiate DACA, not declare it ‘dead’

When President Donald Trump recently signed the 2018 Omnibus Bill into law, which contained a small amount of what he wanted for a border wall (and included funds for 25 miles in Hidalgo County and 8 miles in Starr County,) he proclaimed his displeasure over the federal spending measure. And this weekend he seemed to take it out on Dreamers, ranting in disturbing tweets the following:

“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”

“These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

Continue reading EDITORIAL: Trump must negotiate DACA, not declare it ‘dead’

EDITORIAL: A humanitarian miracle started in the RGV

Since the blistering hot summer of 2014, when a few Catholic parishioners reached out to Sister Norma Pimentel to report an onslaught of immigrants mulling around downtown McAllen near the bus station — dirty, without shoelaces, some sleeping at the station and most very confused — our community has opened its arms to help these people.

We, in the Rio Grande Valley, all know the story: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were releasing thousands of immigrants on deferred adjudication, a legal status whereby the immigrants were allowed to travel to other cities and reunite with family members and loved ones as long as they promised to appear for their scheduled immigration court dates. A great many of these were women with children, some of whom had trekked for weeks, and even months with little food or clothes and endured many hardships.

Continue reading EDITORIAL: A humanitarian miracle started in the RGV

EDITORIAL: Citizenship question on Census ‘could penalize’ RGV

Ever since the idea was floated out three months ago — to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census — it has provoked much opposition. Nevertheless, the Trump administration this week decided the question will be asked.

And that has us asking why?

Especially in the Rio Grande Valley, a region where there are many undocumented immigrants, asking for this type of information surely will dramatically lower the number of respondents. And an inaccurate count will affects local funding, as well as accurate representation in Congress, which was why our Forefathers mandated in the U.S. Constitution that we hold regular census counts.

Continue reading EDITORIAL: Citizenship question on Census ‘could penalize’ RGV

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.

Continue reading EDITORIAL: Use funds to add US immigration judges quickly

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.

Continue reading COMMENTARY: The fight against a border wall continues

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.

Continue reading COMMENTARY: I am looking forward to 2042