Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance Texans unite for comprehensive immigration reform Wed, 02 Oct 2013 18:00:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Folly of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill Becomes Clear In House Bill Wed, 02 Oct 2013 17:46:19 +0000 Border Communities Welcome House Democrat Action on Immigration Reform and the Rejection of Corker/Hoeven Militarization Agenda

For Immediate Release: October 2nd, 2013

Today’s introduction of an immigration reform bill by House Democrats highlights that immigration reform does not have to further sacrifice border communities. The bill contains a bi-partisan approach to border enforcement which we might not agree in some provisions such as fencing and triggers, but clearly does not represent the Senate’s wasteful, unnecessary and harmful militarization of the border represented by the Corker/Hoeven provision.

“This bill represents a step back in the narrative around border enforcement,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “We have to recognize that Congressional Border Caucus Members led by Representatives O’Rourke (TX-16), Vela (TX-34) and Grijalva (AZ-3), bolstered by actions of border communities, set the stage for House Democrats rejecting an ill-advised border surge.”

In June, just after the immigration bill passed the Senate chamber, BNHR led efforts to push back on the dangerous ‘border surge.’ Texas and Southern New Mexico communities in Dallas, Austin, El Paso, Texas Valley and Las Cruces initiated a series of civil disobedience events leading to the arrest of protesters who recognized that the Senate immigration bill no longer represented border community’s vision of reform. BNHR, along with multiple partners around the country, organized a national day of action where 17 cities across the country protested the militarization of American communities as a response to a social issue such as immigration.

BNHR welcomes the intention of today’s proposal to reform the immigration system without border militarization but also cautions that the border security triggers are an onerous road block on the path to citizenship and reminds the public that the benefits of an immigration reform can only be achieved when immigrant workers come out of the shadows. “The Senate immigration bill’s path to citizenship is already exclusive of many millions of hard working families and for the House to add more hurdles is contrary to America’s needs,” says Garcia.

With the inclusion of the Independent DHS Border Oversight Task Force provision border communities and advocates hope that this piece of legislations will embrace a sensible and functional policy that brings about clear mechanisms for accountability, oversight and enhance humane and constitutional standards to border and immigration enforcement.

Gabriela Castañeda

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BREAKING: 6 More Arrested in Texas Protesting Border Militarization Thu, 27 Jun 2013 22:45:10 +0000 Six More Arrested in Austin

They were protesting the militarization of border communities 

(AUSTIN, Texas) – Six more people were arrested today in Austin, Texas protesting the border militarization provisions in immigration reform.

Their arrests come two days after three were arrested at the Democratic Party headquarters in Dallas, where they were also protesting militarization.

About 300 people people flooded 6th Street in Austin just before rush hour. They shut down traffic, blocking cars with giant cardboard fences — representing the border wall. Protestors demonstrated in front of the fence and handed out leaflets with information on the humanitarian crisis of migrant deaths at the border. Militarization forces migrants into the hands of criminals who promise to get them to the U.S., but who often abuse, exploit or abandon them. Those making the journey alone are pushed into the most dangerous, most remote areas. Falfurrias, Texas is one such area where the number of bodies is overwhelming the small police force there.

The protest was a die-in. Think sit-in.

With faces painted to represent the hundreds who die in the desert, protestors laid down in front of the cardboard fence and stopped moving or responding to people around them.

Police were eventually called and had to carry each limp protestor off the street before arresting them.

As protestors staged the die-in, the Senate was taking a vote to pass their immigration reform package. The deal was poisoned Monday with the adoption of the Corker-Hoeven amendment. The amendment represents a concession to the border-enforcement-first crowd and will double Border Patrol ranks, double the border wall, bring 18 border drones and new Black Hawk helicopters plus an array of military weapons and surveillance technology. The deal was touted as a way to get to 70 votes in the Senate. The amendment passed with only 67.

Today’s event is the last in a two-week long statewide caravan for citizenship and accountable enforcement that began in El Paso. Caravaners marched into offices of John Cornyn and Ted Cruz in Harlingen, San Antonio and Dallas.  On Wednesday, about 50 people shut down Democratic Party headquarters in Dallas — leading to the arrest of three caravaners.

The inclusion of militarization in the immigration reform deal means it is no longer about families and American values, the protestors argue. Carrying messages that compared the U.S.-Mexico border to the Korean DMZ, and asked “Is this reform?”

After their friends were arrested, the crowd then went to the jail to protest for the quick release of “the Texas Six.”

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BREAKING: The Broder Three are Free! Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:34:39 +0000 The Border Three Are Free!

Thank you all for your calls and messages of concern. Due to your diligence, we won an expedited process this evening to release the “Border Three.” Teresa Nevares, Fernando Garcia, and Daniel Diaz are resting tonight and will continue with the Caravan. Expect to hear more soon.

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Three #Texas4CIR Caravaners arrested for protesting border militarization Thu, 27 Jun 2013 16:32:03 +0000 They took them away

They have just taken Fernando Garcia, Daniel Diaz and Teresa Nevarez away in handcuffs for protesting border militarization and the fact that Senators traded off broder communities to win political points.
We were protesting at the Democratic Party Headquarters in Dallas during our #Texas4CIR Caravan tour of the state. We were here in Dallas to denounce our own senators for their anti-immigrant stance on immigration reform when we heard the news yesterday that border communities had been traded off by Senators who voted to accept the Corker-Hoeven amendment.
This amendment changes the face of immigration reform.
It brings massive militarization to the border. It means more drones, more walls, new Black Hawk helicopters and doubling Border Patrol to be the largest paramilitary force in the U.S. This amendment makes the U.S.-Mexico border, where more than 6 million U.S. residents live and work, one of the most militarized borders in the world. It’s no accident that military contractors are going to win big under this new regime.
This was supposed to be about our lives, our rights and our future. What happened to immigration reform that focused on families and American values?
The #Texas4CIR Caravan is a two-week long caravan that will visit 16 Texas cities and involve thousands of Texans, showing how intense support for immigration reform is in the state. Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at
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DISPATCH Day 5: They tried to shut down the #Texas4CIR Caravan in San Antonio Mon, 24 Jun 2013 12:56:24 +0000 They tried to shut down the #Texas4CIR Caravan in San Antonio

Building managers cut off power to the elevators to stop Texans from going to a scheduled meeting with John Cornyn’s staff, but police restored order

The scene at John Cornyn's San Antonio office after police had building managers unlock elevators and emergency stairways. Photo from the San Antonio Express News.

(SAN ANTONIO, Texas) – #Texas4CIR Caravaners joined more than 50 San Antonians Friday to march from San Antonio City Hall to the Downtown offices of Sen. John Cornyn.

The marchers were there to tell the senator that his attempts to obstruct immigration reform by adding obscene amounts of border enforcement are not what Texans and Latino voters want.

When they arrived, a local reporter and a small group of caravaners used the elevators to get to the Senator’s second-floor office. That’s when a building manager kicked marchers and caravaners out of the returning elevators and manually shut off the power. He then locked all of the buildings’ stairways.

It took police to restore order and get the elevators turned back on. Sen. John Cornyn’s staff, however, would not open their office door until police arrived to escort RITA members inside.

At that point, 5 people were allowed inside (with police escort) for a conversation with Cornyn’s staff. There, we delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures, including those of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and former mayor Henry Cisneros.

San Antonians had tried to deliver the petition 3 times before, but were stopped and escorted out by police every time, according to Shannon Perez of SEIU Texas.

Though they were able to deliver petitions this time “it was the worst they’ve treated us,” Perez said. “The amount of police and shutting people in elevators, hiding behind building managers is a good way to hide from your constituents.”

Caravaners then made their way to the San Antonio office of Ted Cruz. The meeting there was short and sweet, his staff saying the senator didn’t agree with them on anything. Police followed and circled the building during the meeting.

But the action wasn’t over. Caravaners joined San Antonians for a phone bank before heading for Houston.

Before landing in San Antonio, Caravaners visited Corpus Christi for a press conference outside the offices of Rep. Blake Farenthold. Caravaners asked his staff there to consider the humanitarian crisis of migrant deaths and to clarify his position on DACA, which he recently voted to defund. Rep. Farenthold answered on Twitter:


The Caravan also stopped Thursday in Falfurrias, which is ground zero for the migrant deaths crisis. There, caravaners talked to Brooks County Deputy Chief Benny Martinez about his worries that the current immigration reform proposal doesn’t take into account what’s happening in Falfurrias.

The photos of the dead were indescribable.

Martinez has a force of 5 people, but says he needs at least 20 more to be able to handle the amount of dead bodies found in the county. On top of that, his department deals with the brutal crimes of coyotes who rape, kill, threaten and abandon migrants who have contracted them to guide them to the U.S.

Martinez says he has asked Austin and Washington for help, but fears no one is listening. Martinez and his department have been documenting the crisis and had four jumbo binders of photos and reports of human remains to show caravaners.

The Caravan left Thursday afternoon headed for Houston with 7 more caravaners in tow.

The #Texas4CIR Caravan is a two-week long caravan that will visit 16 Texas cities and involve thousands of Texans, showing how intense support for immigration reform is in the state.

Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at

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#Texas4CIR Caravan Day 3: More than 150 Demand to Meet with Sen. Cornyn in the Valley Wed, 19 Jun 2013 21:35:14 +0000 #Texas4CIR Caravan Day 3: More than 150 Demand to Meet with Sen. Cornyn in the Valley

Taking Action in front of the Harlingen office of Sen. Cornyn, Caravan Riders Call Out Cornyn and Cruz for trying to Derail Immigration Reform

(U.S.-MEXICO BORDER, Texas) –  Sen. John Cornyn was too busy setting policy that would impact millions of Texans to meet with those Texans today.

Ana at @JohnCornyn's #harlingen office says he will meet with us if we ask. Juanita of @LUPE_rgv says we've tried.

After sending requests for a meeting to both the D.C. and Harlingen offices of Sen. Cornyn, #Texas4CIR Caravan riders were disappointed in the Rio Grande Valley today. More than 150 people converged on the Harlingen District Office of Sen. John Cornyn to deliver a message. “We are deeply disappointed that both of our senators have never met with Texas communities to talk about immigration,” said Martha Sanchez of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), and a member of RITA. “And we are not taking no for an answer anymore.”

Communities in the Rio Grade Valley staged a People’s Debate outside Cornyn’s office. One after the other, families impacted by a broken immigration system and a militarized border made their arguments for and were answered by the silence of an empty podium representing Cornyn’s and Cruz’s failure to meet in person with Texans.

The 150 people then went upstairs to ask Cornyn’s staff why he refused a meeting with Texans. “The answer they gave us was that he is just too busy writing bills that would militarize the border and block millions of undocumented Texans from ever starting on the pathway to citizenship,” said Dina Nunez of Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos, and a member of RITA.

Caravan riders have already requested meetings with Cornyn and Cruz in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin. They remain hopeful that the senators will answer to Texans in person.

After leaving Harlingen, the caravan made the short drive to Brownsville for an afternoon press conference and action organized by the Movimiento del Valle por los Derechos Humanos. Here, more than 100 people demonstrated against mass detention and deportation and the abuse of border communities by federal and local law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the caravan met with local leaders in Laredo including Mayor Raul Salinas, Sister Rosemary Welch of the Sisters of Mercy and representatives from the office of  Congressman Henry Cuellar and Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar. The group discussed the need for immigration reform. All supported the idea that border stakeholders including communities, local elected officials, faith leaders, business owners and others must have a seat at the table when border policy is made.


The #Texas4CIR Caravan is a two-week long caravan that will visit 16 Texas cities and involve thousands of Texans, showing how intense support for immigration reform is in the state.


Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at

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DISPATCH: Day 1 of the #Texas4CIR Caravan hits Marfa & Del Rio Tue, 18 Jun 2013 14:26:37 +0000 #Texas4CIR Caravan talks border policy with with County Judges in Presidio and Val Verde

Both judges affirm their support for more accountability in border enforcement and strengthening the DHS Border Oversight Task Force

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Caravan riders with County Judge Paul Hunt in Marfa.

(U.S.-MEXICO BORDER, Texas) –   The first riders on the #Texas4CIR Caravan left El Paso Monday and met with County Judges Paul Hunt of Presidio and Laura Allen of Val Verde to discuss the impacts of border policy on border communities.

Hunt and Allen both agreed that the border is a place too few people understand.

Additionally, both judges said they thought that border communities must have a bigger role to play in setting border policy. Caravan riders asked them to support their cause of adding subpoena powers to the DHS Border Oversight Task Force, an accountability mechanism that is in the current immigration reform bill. Both judges agreed this was necessary to bring border communities to the table.

The Border Network for Human Rights, the organization behind the caravan, is circulating a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to strengthen the DHS Border Oversight Task Force with subpoena powers. The letter can be read online here: Allen signed on Monday and Hunt agreed to look it over, but said he supported the idea.

The letter with all the signatures of supporting organizations and individuals will be released this week.

During the meeting in Marfa, which is in Presidio County, Judge Hunt cited misconceptions and dramatization of border life as hurdles to creating better border enforcement policies.

In particular, Hunt decried that the image of the border as a scary, violent place. Unfortunately, he said, people don’t know the reality of border communities. Hunt recalled how his county hosted transnational games with the neighboring Mexican city that involved throwing a rope across the river to play tug-of-war. “We hosted our own little Olympics, you can imagine the alphabet soup of cooperation that required, but we did it.”

Hunt also shared with caravan riders that he sees a shift happening in the debate. “Security isn’t the first, second and third thing on the list of things to do anymore,” Hunt said. “Finally, I hear some people talking about efficiency, about commerce. That’s a breath of fresh air coming in.”

For her part, Allen said people have the wrong idea about the border. “People think we are living in a romantic old western,” Judge Allen said.

Allen, whose family owns a ranch that sits on the banks of the river dividing the U.S. and Mexico, said that she understand the issue well. She said that Border Patrol has been a help to her community, but that she didn’t need to see anymore. “If we turn this into a national problem anchored in El Paso and Laredo, where is everything going to funnel?” she said. “Well, right here [in Val Verde County]. I like things the way they are.”

The #Texas4CIR Caravan is a two-week long caravan that will visit 16 Texas cities and involve thousands of Texans, showing how intense support for immigration reform is in the state from a

Photos and video of the entire Caravan available at

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Cornyn and Cruz Are At Odds with Texas Families and American Values Wed, 05 Jun 2013 19:14:08 +0000

Instead of standing up for the kind of reform that Texans demand, Cornyn and Cruz are fighting for more criminalization and militarization 

(AUSTIN, Texas) – Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are continuing their out-of-touch assault on the bipartisan push for immigration reform. In doing so, they are in direct opposition to what the majority of Texans and Americans want.

Sen. Cruz joined other anti-immigrant extremists in the Senate by releasing a letter that says the bill doesn’t go far enough to militarize the border and rejects the pathway to citizenship that an ever growing majority of Americans support. In it, he re-affirms that he rejects immigration reform and isn’t interested in solving anything. In a state like Texas, this means fighting against the interests of millions of Texas families and Latino voters.

Meanwhile, Sen. Cornyn seems determined to derail the bill’s progress. Cornyn filed an amendment that would aggressively and completely seal the border. His amendment would also block the pathway to citizenship until a set of militarization goals are met on the border. The type of border Cornyn is trying to create puts all Americans’ rights on the line and would sacrifice an important part of the Texas state economy.

Both senators insist on repeating a 25-year-old talking point that the border must be secured first.  “But a lot has changed on the border since 1986,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of Border Network for Human Rights and executive committee member of RITA. “For the senators to call for more militarization shows that they are out-of-touch with the reality on the ground. They certainly don’t seem to be talking about the Texas-Mexico border that we see.”

RITA calls on the senators to listen to Texans and stop their attempts to derail or kill immigration reform.

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Texans Target Cruz in D.C. and Denounce Him Back Home Wed, 22 May 2013 19:24:48 +0000 A diverse group of Texans condemned Sens. Cruz and Cornyn’s attempts to kill immigration reform as protestors take over Cruz’s office in D.C.

Police were called to Sen. Ted Cruz’s office in D.C. when his office was taken over by Texans and their allies who were denouncing his vote against comprehensive immigration reform.

Marco Malagon, Founder and President of the North Texas Dream Team, was in the room when 40-50 people took over Sen. Cruz’s office. At the same time, he was on a call with reporters and he condemned Sen. Cruz for taking an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant stance in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Malagon said that Cruz was wrong to attack the pathway to citizenship. “I want to be a citizen, I want to vote and I want to contribute,” he said. “He isn’t representing our community.”

Sen. Cruz's office shut down in Washington, D.C. May 22, 2013. Photos from United We Dream and @4anewAmerica.

The action was organized by The Fair Immigration Reform Movement and included DREAMers and religious leaders from Texas and other parts of the U.S.

Malagon’s comments to the press were cut short when those gathered in Cruz’s office began to pray. The prayers and shouts of “amen” drowned out Malagon and caught the attention of Cruz’s staff, who soon after called the police.

While Malagon and other Texans took action against Sen. Cruz’s anti-immigrant agenda in D.C., Texas denounced him back home on a press call happening at the same time.

Sen. Cornyn voted with Cruz to block immigration reform yesterday, sending outrage across Texas communities.

Local government officials had criticism for both senators. El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar condemned what she called a xenophobic tone from the senators and their ignorance of the border and immigrant communities.

“When we have senators from our own state saying the border isn’t secure, then they are ignoring the facts,” said Escobar. “And when our senators want to block the pathway to citizenship and then also create a second-class of citizenship by preventing even those people who become citizens from ever receiving benefits, then that is alarming to us.”

Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, said that Sen. Cruz was driven by ideology and that Sen. Cornyn is only following Cruz’s lead.

“When we have Sen. Cruz saying that we need more Border Patrol, it shows complete ignorance,” he said. “And the only way to explain that ignorance is that he has ideological and political reasons. It’s shameful to us that we have a senator who doesn’t recognize the reality of Texas. We are outraged at Cruz and and concerned that Cornyn might be just following his lead.”

Rogelio Nunez is the Executive Director of Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen, Texas, a legal services organization that helps people realize the dream of becoming U.S. citizens.

“What they need to understand is that 40% of Texans are Latino and that number is growing,”  said Nunez. “Cornyn and Cruz aren’t reflecting the values of those Latinos or Texans in general. It is an insult to go against he family values of Texans and Latinos. The fact that other Republicans on the committee — and even Mitch McConnell saying he won’t block the bill —shows how far off Cruz and Cornyn are. I can only hope for a change of heart when the bill gets to the floor.”

Father Stephen Jasso of All Saints Catholic Church in Fort Worth urged Texans to pray for reform and for the senators to be moved to do the right thing.

“I want them to remember this — that immigrants are a blessing to our church and to our country,” Jasso said. “I really believe that and I pray for them to do the right thing and for the work people are doing to pass immigration reform.”

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Sen. Cornyn Can Do More for Reform Than Make Videos Tue, 14 May 2013 18:46:43 +0000 Sen. Cornyn’s Concern over Migrant Deaths must Match his Votes

The Senator is in the position to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the border, but has so far he has voted to aggravate it


(AUSTIN, Texas) – Sen. John Cornyn this week released an opinion editorial on and a video on his YouTube page that highlights the ongoing crisis of migrant deaths at the border.

However, as the senator laments this loss of life he forgets that the situation is a direct result of U.S. immigration and border policy and that as a senior senator he has directly contributed to the formation of these policies.

RITA shares the senators’ concern over the crisis of migrant deaths. However, we demand that he do more than make YouTube videos and write pieces for Fox News. He must vote for policies that fix the legal immigration system so as to offer migrant workers a safe, legal and orderly way to come to the country. The absence of an functional legal immigration system for migrant workers pushes them into the hands of the smugglers he denounces. He must also reject attempts to further militarize the border, which pushes migrants into the most remote, most dangerous places.

During the markup of the current immigration reform proposal in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Sen. Cornyn did not stand up for the migrants whose deaths this week he laments. During the Senate Judiciary Committee Markup of Titie I, the border enforcement section of the bill, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced an extreme amendment intended to kill the bill that called for tripling the size of Border Patrol and quadrupling border enforcement spending.  Sen. John Cornyn voted with the tea party senator on this poison pill amendment.

Sen. Cornyn also blocked reform in 2006 and 2007. Since those votes, at least 2,500 migrants have died trying to cross the border, based on Border Patrol’s estimate of 500 deaths a year.

Texans deserve better than videos, we deserve votes that reflect our values — one of those being that no one should die in a desert because politicians are playing games on immigration reform.

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