BNHR PRESS STATEMENT
Border Residents Celebrate Passage of HR 2203
Congresswoman Escobar’s Bill Anchors U.S. Border Policy in Human, Constitutional Rights
BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia offered the following statement in response to the
House of Representatives passing HR 2203 (Homeland Security Improvement Act by Cong.
“Border communities know what makes America great: the opportunity this country offers to
people from around the world and the ideals of a Constitution that uplifts human rights, dignity,
and freedoms. But over the past 25 years our communities have had a front seat to see this
greatness eroded by an unfettered buildup of border enforcement that has militarized our homes,
undercut our rights, limited our opportunities, and made us less safe. This has happened without
transparency, without accountability, without oversight, and without engaging our communities.
The situation is untenable, and unacceptable.
For years border communities have sought to address these problems. We at BNHR have
documented abuses, decried inhumane, unjust, and degrading treatment, and worked to assert our
rights as Americans. Border residents as a whole have raised their voices to express these
concerns. HR 2203 is the result of this effort. We are so proud to see it pass, to see Congress
finally listen to the needs, values, and aspirations of people living at the border. This is a historic
accomplishment for our community.
This bill finally brings a structure of accountability, transparency, and oversight to America’s
largest law enforcement agencies. This bill forces CBP and ICE to reckon with how their
practices impact Constitutional rights and human dignity. This bill gives border communities a
voice on the enforcement practices that affect our lives day in and day out. And this bill reminds
everyone that border communities are a place of hope and opportunity for Americans and people
from around the world.
Borders are critical to defining the character and the lived experience of the nation. When the
ways we treat people at our borders are to subject them to horrors with impunity, then that
becomes the norm for how we treat people nationwide. HR 2203 resists this. Instead, it insists
that our Southern border can and must be the New Ellis Island of our age—a gateway to the
welcoming, inclusion, and opportunity that America has always represented to the world. These
are America’s values. This is America’s potential. This is what America must strive to be.
With HR 2203 passing the House it is up to the Senate to continue this work. We urge and we
expect Senate Leader McConnell to do his job uplifting the values of accountability,
transparency, and oversight. We expect Senate Leader McConnell to do his job and uplift the
rights and protections of our Constitution. We expect Senate Leader McConnell and his
colleagues to do their job, consider this bill, and bring it to the floor. And we will do our work to
ensure that they continue to hear from border communities on these issues.
Finally, with the passage of this historic and essential legislation border communities express
their appreciation for everyone who helped make this happen. We extend our sincere thanks to:
Congresswoman Escobar who carried and persisted with this legislation; Speaker Pelosi,
Chairman Thompson, and Chairman Nadler who championed it; the dozens of Congresspeople
who cosponsored and supported it; and every member who voted for it. Our communities
appreciate the courage and vision of all of you.”
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.