In the aftermath of the violent riot at the Capitol building members of La Union del Pueblo Entero are urging elected leaders to refuse to cooperate with President Trump and cancel the potential visit.
Not long after word of Trump’s potential visit to the city of Alamo, LUPE, a local nonprofit immigrant advocacy group, called on elected leaders from the cities of Alamo and McAllen, and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office to demand that Trump cancel what they characterized as a “dangerous stunt.”
LUPE issued the plea in a petition.
“I think that the Valley for the most part, we are against Trump coming to the Valley because I think he brings racist mobs, and riots,” executive director Juanita Valdez-Cox said Monday morning. “The last four years have been incredibly difficult for our communities here in South Texas. Then we saw what happened on Jan. 6. It proves to us that there are very violent elements within Trump (followers).”
On Jan. 6, rioters who were invited to the Capitol building that day by Trump destroyed property and broke into the Capitol building where elected leaders were slated to ratify the results of the 2020 election.
“Everything that is happening is incited by Trump,” Valdez-Cox said. “We are very concerned about the threat that (Trump’s visit) brings to South Texas. We hope that he cancels his trip — that’s why we’re calling on public officials to speak up. They need to say we will not. We will not have security for Trump. We will not allow him (here). We are asking that he cancel his trip.”
Trump’s potential visit to the Valley, much like the one in 2018, is expected to be a showcase of border wall construction. Last week, in a conference call with news media, Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark A. Morgan celebrated the completion of “450 miles of border wall system.”
According to its own status report, CBP stated of the 452 miles completed to date, 372 miles is replacement for primary and secondary “dilapidated and/or outdated designs,” that already existed along the border — making it roughly only 80 miles of “new wall” where a wall or barrier did not exist before along the U.S.-Mexico border.
AN URGENT PLEA
LUPE organized against the Trump administration’s policies from the moment the president was elected — as the administration targeted people within LUPE’s communities, from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients and their families, and those who oppose a militarized border, and additional border walls.
Not only were members of marginalized communities impacted by Trump’s policies, but so too were Valley landowners who, in some cases, had and continue to have generationally held lands seized by the government in its efforts to build a border wall as part of Trump’s 2016 promise to his base.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling released a statement regarding the potential visit.
Darling stated his office did not have the authority to stop the president from visiting the area.
“I understand that emotions are high on both sides, for or against, the President and I hope that if there are demonstrations for or against, that they are peaceful with respect to our law enforcement personnel,” Darling said in a news release from his office.
LUPE, shortly after Darling’s statement was made public, responded in a series of messages on social media, stating that Darling was not “doing enough,” and that Darling “must demand Trump cancel” the trip.
In a release from the county, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez urged “both sides” to keep their “passions in check” and demonstrate in a “peaceful” manner in the event of a visit from Trump.
It’s important to note that only supporters of President Trump were identified as those who engaged in an insurrection at the Capitol building Jan. 6.
The Associated Press, having researched and investigated the backgrounds of hundreds of individuals identified in the Capitol riot, reporting Sunday that the “insurrectionist mob that showed up at the president’s behest and stormed the U.S. Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals.”
U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, and Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, denounced the president’s plans to visit Alamo.
“Do not be fooled: President Trump does not care about the people of South Texas, this country, or the rule of law. This individual fomented an attack on the United States Capitol and American democracy. As usual, even after being denounced by respectable members of his cabinet and his own party, he continues to refuse any responsibility for his actions,” Gonzalez said in a statement Monday. “I urge elected officials not to honor him with their presence as an act of American solidarity. This is a time for good ol’ South Texas American pride to beam into our communities and to not allow ourselves to be used like an old rag by a modern day traitor.”
Vela additionally stated, the president’s planned trip would only bring more strife, as opposed to unity.
“With a nation in crisis in the wake of a mob attack on the nation’s capital and reeling from an uncontrollable pandemic, President Trump is employing precious government resources to highlight his atrocious border wall,” Vela said in his statement. “The President should cancel this trip and focus on bringing harmony to this country in his waning days.”
But Valdez-Cox believes the violence witnessed at the Jan. 6 event is cause for concern and more is needed from elected officials like Darling and Cortez.
“What more are they waiting for? Did they not see what we saw? Did they not? Do they not know that people were killed by this mob?” Valdez-Cox said. “I’m really concerned about this mob, these rioters within supporters of Trump. I just think that if security in (Washington) D.C. was not able to stop them — you think the law enforcement here has the security to be able to protect the community? I seriously doubt that — why put this community at that type of risk, why not call on all elected officials to ask that this trip be canceled?”
The longtime executive director also underscored how members of the nonprofit advocacy group are treated by local law enforcement during peaceful demonstrations, in stark contrast to how rioters and a literal mob was treated by law enforcement during the Jan. 6 event.
“It’s a different kind of treatment that they give minorities when we hold, you know, brown and black minorities when we hold protest. And so that’s something that I also need to point out.”
Additionally, Valdez-Cox points to the cost of security during a visit by the president — resources she said would be better spent coordinating vaccine distribution in a region where COVID-19 has decimated families.
Cortez also underscored the importance of fighting the pandemic in his statement regarding the planned trip.
“We must remember that we all have a common and far more dangerous enemy: the COVID-19 virus,” Cortez stated. “Our focus should be more on addressing this deadly threat than creating new threats amongst ourselves over political disagreements.”
Valdez-Cox characterized the planned trip as meaningless in the context of the pandemic and the national vaccine roll-out.
“The resources that it’s going to cost is incredible. It’s high. What we need is money for the vaccines to organize for the vaccine instead of spending all of these resources on bringing in Trump coming to the Valley — for what purpose? It’s totally meaningless, so we really wish that he would cancel,” she said.