Immigration advocates organize caravan to outline demands of Biden administration

A+caravan+in+support+of+the+inclusive+immigration+reform+and+humane+border+policies%2C+drives+across+El+Paso+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+23%2C+2021.+

Maria Salette Ontiveros

A caravan in support of the inclusive immigration reform and humane border policies, drives across El Paso on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021.

Maria Salette Ontiveros, Web Editor

On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) and members of the New Ellis Island Policy Group led a more than 100 car caravan throughout El Paso, in support of inclusive immigration reform and humane border policies.

The caravan departure point was at Memorial Park and culminated with a socially distanced rally in Armijo Park. There, local leaders and advocates shared concrete demands for President Joe Biden’s administration, as outlined in a letter sent to the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and Senator Chuck Schumer on Inauguration Day.  

“Many people in immigrant communities of color let out a sigh of relief this Wednesday as we finally said goodbye to the cruel, xenophobic, and destructive Trump presidency, and welcomed new leadership that we hope will not only undo the harm caused by the Trump administration, but work to build a nation that truly lives up to its values of freedom and justice for all,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of BNHR.  

The letter held the following 9 points made by members of the immigration advocacy group, where they express the necessities of the community.

1. Champion the just and fair integration of immigrant families and workers in our society

2. Repeal Trump’s racist and xenophobic immigrant policies

3. Create a legalization program that provides a pathway to citizenship

4. Demilitarize the U.S/ Mexico border

5. Implement accountability and oversight of border institutions and policies

6. End to the separation and deportation of families

7. Decriminalize immigrant families and refugees

8. Rebuild, improve, and expand the asylum and refugee systems

9. Reverse modifications to the H-2A visa program and other temporary foreign labor programs

The rally was conducted as a bilingual event, starting with local leaders speaking in Spanish and finishing the event with English speakers.

We are asking for immigration reform for all of the 11 million of immigrants and that this new president who entered the office, keeps his promises,” said Epifania Cortez, member of the BNHR.  

On his first week in office, Biden unveiled a set of immigration policy reversals and sweeping legislative proposals, including ending the emergency declaration Former President Donald Trump had used to funnel money to build the U.S./Mexico border wall. 

“I am here because I am a daughter of immigrants and I need the migration reform for my mom, so she can work here and be with me and my brother,” said Waxi Acevedo, 17, a Las Cruces High School student. “The past administration affected me with a lot of racism, they could not see me as a citizen even though I was born hereI hope this administration helps all of us citizens, to stop racism.”

Raymundo Eli Rojas, a Chicano studies professor at UTEP and attorney for El Paso and Las Cruces, was also present at the event and was among those who read the letter to the audience. Rojas also recommends UTEP students get involved with activist organizations at the University fighting for immigration reform.  

As a student, get active in the student organizations, get active in activism, because we need this for immigrant families,” Rojas said.  

Among the promises Biden made during his campaign, was to end the prosecution of parents for minor immigration violations that led to the separation of more than 5,000 migrant families. 

To read a complete version of the New Ellis Island Policy Group lettervisit BNHR’s official site

Maria Salette Ontiveros may be reached at [email protected] ; @salette2098 on Twitter.