Protestors object to Gov. Abbott’s visit

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Protestors object to Gov. Abbott’s visit

Christian Vasquez, Copy Editor

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Governor Gregg Abbott’s visit to El Paso for the El Paso Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser drew approximately 150 protestors Saturday, Feb. 18, outside the Blackstone Event Center.

The protestors were largely against Senate Bill 4, known as the sanctuary cities bill, but many were also against his stances on abortion and the environment.

Fernando Garcia, executive director for the Border Network for Human Rights, was one of the organizers of the protest.

“Governor Abbott is here and he’s responsible for the most anti-immigrant legislation that we have had in the history of Texas,” Garcia said. “He wants to force our community, our police department, to force immigration laws. He wants to break the trust that exists between communities and police officers, he wants to transform police officers into immigration agents.”

The protest drew police and security presence, but besides a few heated arguments it was a peaceful event. Mayoral candidate David Saucedo was also attending the dinner and had a conversation with the protestors, where he said that undocumented immigrants hurt the El Paso economy.

Isaac Yepez, a senior majoring in English and American literature, is a member of UTEP’s College Republicans and attended the fundraiser. Yepez said that he thought the protesting was a good thing, as long as it remained peaceful and encouraged dialogue.

“I’m actually really impressed with (the protestors), they’re being peaceful. I mean, some of them are shouting obscenities at me, just for asking them what they’re doing here,” Yepez said.

Shouting was largely heard from one man who would yell “Nazi” and “fascist” at attendees as they arrived.

Rachel Zimmerman, one of the protestors, said she wanted to show that the community wants progressive change.

“My family is Jewish and they were able to escape the holocaust, but were denied entrance to the United States and so they went to Mexico. So immigration is an important issue to me,” Zimmerman said. “It saves a lot of lives when you let people in.”

But not everyone saw the protests with hope. Charles Hooten, a former county commissioner of El Paso, said that he does not understand why the protestors are against SB 4.

“It’s discouraging. We are a nation of laws; we do have immigration laws. Are they in favor of illegal immigration? I don’t know,” Hooten said. “No civilization I know of has survived out-of-control immigration, so we got to have orderly immigration. I think that’s the crux of it. People want to enter the country without going through the process and earning citizenship.”

Adriana Cadena, Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance member, believes that Gov. Abbott’s policies are detrimental to communities.

“The first thing we hope that comes out of this event is that he knows that wherever he goes, people are going to be protesting on this. Because this is not the first time that he has come into contact with us, just about a week ago he was in the lower Texas area, and our different groups that we work with were also protesting his fundraiser up there,” Cadena said “I think also people who support him to know that, in general, the community is against proposals like this. That if this is kind of the leadership that he is showing, that he is pushing his agenda onto our communities and onto local jurisdictions—that is not the kind of leader we want.”

According to an article in the El Paso Times, Gov. Abbott spoke about states’ rights, school vouchers, property tax reform and making assaults on police a hate crime. However, Abbott did not talk about SB 4 at the dinner.          

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