News Article by Aaron Martinez from El Paso Times
Border Network for Human Rights officials on Saturday announced their 2019 agenda to combat what they called President Donald Trump’s “racist, xenophobic agenda.”
“We have never seen a year as 2018,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “I believe it was the worse year for immigrants, for border residents, for refugees, for asylum seekers ever. We have seen demented strategies focused on our community and destroying our families, incarcerating children, separating those children from their families, and building a ridiculous wall.”
The immigration advocacy group’s 2019 agenda includes protesting Trump’s proposed border wall, calling for open investigations into the deaths of two migrant children in U.S. custody, helping asylum seekers, ending the detention of migrant children and working with the U.S. Congress to reform immigration laws, Garcia said.
The organization focused at the news conference on fighting the building of the border wall and investigating the deaths last month of the two children who were in U.S. Border Patrol custody.
“The government is shut down partially because of Trump’s insistence of building a border wall,” Garcia said. “His arguments, all of them, are based on artificial, distorted arguments. It is not true that we have an invasion of immigrants. It is not true that these immigrants coming through ports of entry or between ports of entry are criminals or rapists.”
The partial government shutdown is in its third week as Trump and Democratic leaders fight over the funding of the border wall, USA TODAY reported. Trump is seeking more than $5 billion to build the wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The Democrats could solve the Shutdown problem in a very short period of time,” Trump posted Saturday on Twitter. “All they have to do is approve REAL Border Security (including a Wall), something which everyone, other than drug dealers, human traffickers and criminals, want very badly! This would be so easy to do!”
Garcia and his organization also called for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to conduct an “open, transparent investigation” into the deaths of 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin. Both children, from Guatemala, died in U.S. Border Patrol custody in December.
“We will insist and continue putting pressure that there is a transparent, fast and independent investigation on the deaths of Jakelin and Felipe,” Garcia said. “So far, we don’t know how they died, why they died. But we can imagine. We can imagine that they would be live today if they had crossed at an international port of entry and not necessarily between ports of entry in the middle of the desert. We need to know how they died.”
Medical officials have said Felipe had the flu, but his death remains under investigation.
Border Network for Human Rights officials also announced a protest later this month to “denounce the Trump administration.”
The protest will be held at noon Jan. 26. The location of the event has yet to be announced.