Growing Resistance in the Rio Grand Valley

By Nick Braune
Mid-Valley Town Crier
by permission

In the Rio Grande Valley, opposition to the for-profit immigration detention centers and to the Border Wall is growing. Some resistance is growing in this occupied territory.

A rally is scheduled at the Raymondville detention center on Saturday, August 11th at 5 pm. It is a public announcement that those who gathered 80 strong to protest there in June have not disappeared. In fact some will also speak against the detention center at the Willacy County Commissioners’ Court on Monday morning, two days later.

It seems a few sad Willacy County leaders, depressed about the declining economy, want to sell more of Raymondville’s future to the prison-industrial complex for a little more porridge. They propose to expand the present gloomy detention center by 50%. Can’t they propose a medical facility, a branch of a college, a brightly painted skate park, something nice? Why more dungeons?

Further resistance news

In opposition to the Border Wall, there will be a festival held in Mission on August 25th. (It’s at the La Lomita Mission nearby Pepe’s on the River at 5 p.m.) The community rally will be followed by an “ecumenical procession” to the Rio Grande. There will be free pontoon rides celebrating the river and a piñata shaped like a wall for the kids to break.

Also on August 25th, the “Hands across el Rio,” 1250 mile, 16 day protest against the Border Wall will begin in El Paso. It will work its way down the river to Brownsville and Boca Chica on September 8th and 9th.

I cell-phoned Jay Johnson-Castro of Del Rio — find his website at “Border Ambassadors” — and he updated me about how well “Hands” is coming together. He told me about an energetic Mexican congresswoman, Maria Dolores Gonzalez-Mendivil, who is organizing for the Laredo-area event. There really are hands across the river for friendship, compassion and cooperation, and against military walls.

More news

Last Wednesday, McAllen’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce held a public forum against the Border Wall. The Monitor reported the meeting:

“Homeland Security is set to build 370 miles of border fence along the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of 2008, a significant portion of which has been slated for the Valley. Many politicians paint the barrier as a means of stemming illegal immigration. They also say a fence would help prevent terrorists from entering the country. But opposition to the plan has been fierce here in the Valley. McAllen’s Mayor Richard Cortez and others at Wednesday’s forum touched on economic, philosophical and human rights reasons not to build the fence.”

I phoned Jay Johnson-Castro of Del Rio who came down for that Hispanic Chamber event:

Author: How’d it go?

Johnson-Castro: It was a phenomenal meeting, with about 100 people. A variety of concerned groupings were vocal there: environmentalists, groups involved in the protection of immigrants, business people, the mayor’s office and some expert attorneys on constitutional law.
This meeting set the basis for a collective legal challenge to the wall. I found it very encouraging: this was not just talk but a call to action. And soon there will be a legal fund to keep things moving. A legal challenge is vitally important. As one attorney said, we must do something because there is a man on the loose with the ability and intent to break all of our laws and traditions, and that man is Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security.

Author: I know the press was there; I hope Washington listens.

Johnson-Castro: Well, Senator Cornyn had an assistant there, who got an earful. As you know he voted for the fence and now is helping to get money for it.

Author: Although he set himself up as a sort of “mediator” on the wall issue a few months ago, I think Cornyn is on Chertoff’s side. Anything else about the meeting?

Johnson-Castro: There were two exciting moments when shows of hands were called for. When it was asked how many thought we should allow the wall, no hands went up from anywhere in the room. And when there was call for hands on whether we should legally challenge the wall, it was clearly a hundred vigorously for the challenge and no one against it. I got a chance to push the “Hands across el Rio” project which will be starting in about two weeks. It will unite us as a border region.

Author: Yes, I know there is activity all along the border. I read about the Mexican congresswoman organizing in Nuevo Laredo.

Johnson-Castro: And the Valley should be proud too of the leadership it is showing.

Author: I call it a resistance movement.

Editor: And my goodness, if you’re down at the Valley Chamber of Commerce, don’t forget to call it a ‘professional’ resistance movement!

By mopress

Writer, Editor, Educator, Lifelong Student

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