Getting involved: Political activist making a difference

LA FERIA — At just 22 years old, Denisce Palacios has been involved in politics enough to make a difference.

Palacios is currently the Campus Organizer for Texas Rising in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s a nonprofit organization that looks to build the power of young people, specifically minorities. She will also be representing Texas while serving in the Credentials committee at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in August. Palacios was recently elected as a National Delegate for Bernie Sanders and to the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) Platform committee.

Valley Morning Star interviewed her about her current endeavors and future plans.

What are you currently studying?

I’m studying Political Science with minors in International Business and Political Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). I graduate this December 2020.

Originally, I was a theatre major but felt compelled to change direction after the 2016 election and the legislative agenda of the current administration. Honestly, I was pushed by my dad to switch majors because he felt that I could do more and should be doing more. This is a pivotal moment in history. This is a moment in time where we need to put aside our personal desires and fight for the betterment of humankind and equality in human dignity — specifically that of marginalized groups.

What are your plans after graduating?

Since middle school, I’ve aspired to be an immigration lawyer or criminal defense attorney. At this point, I’m not sure where I am best suited to be, but I do know that I want to help and empower my community in the Valley. Interning for Congress in Washington, D.C., was really life changing. I was motivated to leave to D.C. because I witnessed how people I love became increasingly afraid due to their immigration status and people I didn’t know were suffering from human rights abuses at the hands of our government and the current administration.

I silently observed how some offices were unwilling to “do the right thing” or be more vocal against injustice because they feared it could endanger their re-election or ties to wealthy donors.

I was definitely surprised by how conservative “democratic” offices I visited were. I’ve become disenchanted with politics but have been really inspired by advocacy groups, led by genuinely concerned people.

I love community organizing; informing people about their rights and reminding them how much power they truly hold. This is the work that I want to continue. Fighting for justice. Fighting for equity. Fighting to end corruption. We may not immediately see the outcome of our work and that’s okay because it’s work that creates a better future for generations to come.

Why did you decide to become involved in politics?

It wasn’t much of a decision considering where we live and my identity as a first generation American. Along the border, we don’t really have a choice, our identities, our lives are nationally politicized for us. The Valley is used for photo-ops and never consulted in legislative decisions. I’m tired of hearing of local, state, and federal politicians holding secret meetings then rapidly coming out with legislation that benefits the banking industry, for-profit health industry, realtors and constructors, instead of the working every day people they represent. We shouldn’t have to cross the border to buy the low cost medicine we need and receive the medical attention we deserve. Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents moved to the United States for a better life, we shouldn’t have to go back for low-priced life saving prescription drugs and treatments. It just doesn’t make sense.

What are your concerns about government?

There are many things that worry me about our current government. Self-serving corrupt politicians are the biggest threat to our democracy. I’m worried about people driven by ego and false pretenses entering public service. I worry that the fanaticism and celebrity surrounding politicians in recent times attracts narcissists who simply want to be in the spotlight, which will lead to more corruption. I worry about the facility with which we throw around the word “divisive” to avoid working together to arrive at practical solutions.

How is your generation making a change?

Young people are sick of injustice. Young people across the world are leading international movements against sexual harassment, against environamental injustice, for immigrant justice, for gun violence prevention, for racial equality, for LGBTQ+ equality and many more issues. Strides in healthcare, gender equity, climate action, immigrant justice are being made thanks to young people. We’re registering people to vote in mass numbers and helping empower our communities. We see that things are changing in the political and social landscapes because young people are stepping up.

How did you get involved in the Teen Vote committee?

A friend asked me to apply, and so I did. I applied because I wanted people to know about the Rio Grande Valley and what it’s like to live in a deeply Blue area in a Red state. I also applied out of frustration with the false narratives that outside journalists (and even a few local journalists) propagate. People need to know that the Rio Grande Valley is a safe, vibrant, culturally rich home, not a dangerous war zone. As the only Teen Vogue Teen Vote committee member from Texas, I am determined to correct these misrepresentations.