Border Communities Pledge Resistance in Face of Administration’s Continued Aggression
Statement by BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia
“The Border Network for Human Rights is sad and disappointed to announce that our upcoming #HugsNotWalls 7 event, scheduled to happen on Saturday May 11, has been cancelled. Border agencies and institutions created every obstacle possible and invented every necessary pretext to prevent this highly important, and historic, family gathering at the border. All of these clearly followed Trump’s xenophobic playbook and it is in alignment with his distorted Declaration of Emergency at the border. Today, in this America, led by this administration, a family hug, and fraternal embrace, represents “a threat to national security”. This is beyond irrational.
“This event, which would have seen 150 separated immigrant families come together at Sunland Park-Anapra, is the latest casualty to the Trump Administration’s sustained assault against communities and migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Families that have been planning for weeks to celebrate Mother’s Day by being able to see their long estranged loved ones are left in the lurch—their basic humanitarian needs to be with their families unmet. This is an unfortunate end to an event that called attention to the ways that America’s immigration policy fails so many of its families. Border Network is proud to have reunited more than 1300 separated families and showcased, as shown in the Netflix documentary ‘A Three Minute Hug’, how border communities have come together to uplift our common wellbeing. We hope that someday we will be able to hold an event like #HugsNotWalls again.
“Instead, in this moment of resistance and hope, of challenge and opportunity, we call on everyone in the communities of this region to join BNHR on Saturday, May 25th. That morning, we will take to the streets as we march to lament the cancellation of this event, to decry the inhumanity of the Trump Administration, and demand an America that truly values hugs, not walls. We will gather at 8:30 am at Chihuahuita Park, located at 400 Charles Road and at 9 am march through downtown towards Armijo Park, located at 710 E. 7th Avenue. We hope you will join us.
“For two decades BNHR has worked to create a substantive dialogue between border communities and enforcement agencies like Border Patrol. We have held joint community forums to lay out clearly the rights of individuals in their interactions with these agencies, we have documented abuses and brought agencies to the table to work through the underlying causes, and we have developed reforms—such as around use-of-force—that make members of border communities and law enforcement agencies alike safer. However, in spite of years of investment from communities and local officials alike, this atmosphere of dialogue and engagement has changed, perhaps irreparably.
“The end of this era of dialogue, which has set El Paso and Southern New Mexico apart from other regions of the border, is a clear result of the policy of aggression the Trump Administration has taken against border communities. It is deeply unfortunate that this Administration has decided, for purely political reasons, to alienate and antagonize people at our southern border. This leaves America, poorer, less dynamic, less vibrant than we should be—we lament that the opportunities present in events like #HugsNotWalls are so utterly ignored.
“No matter the challenges that we will face going forward, we at BNHR will continue to press for family reunification and human rights. As the slings and arrows of the Trump Administration’s irrational Declaration of National Emergency, continue ceaselessly, BNHR remains committed to resisting that which they do to degrade, dehumanize, and destroy migrants.
“We thank everyone who has supported BNHR through this process of dialogue and pressure, and we particularly thank everyone who has supported and borne witness to #HugsNotWalls through its duration. We are immensely grateful and moved to have had the opportunity, on six occasions, to demonstrate that a different, more humane world is possible, and we remain committed to building a society that reflects those values of family, opportunity, hope, and humanity”.
The Border Network for Human Rights, founded in 1998, is one of the leading human rights advocacy and immigration reform organizations located at the U.S./Mexico Border. BNHR has over 7,000 members in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.