Hundreds of RGV immigration activists rally against bills in Austin

Posted by admin on Feb 22nd, 2011

By Elizabeth Findell, The Monitor, Feb. 22 2011

McALLEN — Local activist groups joined with students, businessmen and public officials Tuesday to caravan to Austin for a “Texas Can Do Better” day of action protesting proposed immigration laws. La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), an immigrant advocacy group, and Equal Voice, a network of advocacy groups, helped lead about 400 locals on the trip. The group left LUPE’s offices in San Juan at 4 a.m. Tuesday for Austin, where they met up with like-minded organizations from across the state. Activists have identified a list of bills introduced into the Texas Legislature that they consider harmful.

One would make being in the United States illegally an act of criminal trespass. Some would require police to check the immigration status of people arrested or detained, like the controversial Arizona law. One would require public schools to keep track of illegal students. Some would prohibit governments from using public money to print information in a language other than English. Others would deny state money to so-called sanctuary cities where immigration law is not fully enforced.

“(Our) message … is that the state of Texas needs to leave the work of immigration reform to the federal government,” LUPE organizer Javier Parra said. “And our families need to stay together, not divided.”

The groups that turned out included Proyecto Azteca of San Juan, Alamo-based ARISE, Brownsville’s Movimiento Del Valle Por Los Derechos Humanos and Valley Interfaith. University of Texas-Pan American students and representatives from the American GI Forum and Brown Berets participated. McAllen developer Alonzo Cantu donated $10,000 to cover the cost of renting eight busses to help with transport.

Protesters against the bills rallied for a march from Waterloo Park to the state Capitol. They turned in boxes of postcards opposing the bills, including more than 10,000 postcards from the Valley. In the afternoon, some of the activists participated in legislative visits, during which 50 teams of four met with lawmakers to express their views directly.

After the event, LUPE organizer Martha Sanchez said she found many legislators to be unfamiliar with the bills, but hoped they would hear the message.

“We still had the opportunity to voice our concerns about the approval of these bills and how it’s going to affect the Valley,” she said.

Sanchez said she remained optimistic that the message was effective.

“That’s what we hope for; that’s what we came to do in front of the Capitol with that many people — to make enough noise so people can listen,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty tired, but I think we accomplished the challenge.”

Elizabeth Findell covers Pharr, San Juan, Alamo and general assignments for The Monitor. She can be reached at (956) 683-4428.

Comments are closed.