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HIDALGO, RGV – A community organizer with La Unión del Pueblo Entero is asking the business community of the Rio Grande Valley to join with groups such as hers to campaign against the construction of more border walls.

Martha Sanchez made her pitch alongside the border wall that blighted the old historic Hidalgo Pump House.

Martha Sanchez

“I know that the Rio Grande Guardian is read by many business people. We would like to reach out to them,” Sanchez said. “I think this is the opportunity for business people to participate with us. They know that this wall President Trump wants to build will harm many of the businesses here in the Valley, that it will harm our trading and cultural relationships with Mexico.”

Sanchez said building more border walls could also disrupt flood control on the Rio Grande, thus jeopardizing the public safety of communities on both sides of the river.

“The wall you see here was build eight years ago, and it did not work. Now, we are going to waste money again on something that does not work and can damage our environment.”

La Unión del Pueblo Entero, along with groups such as ARISE, Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, Fuerza del Valle, American Civil Liberties Union, and Texas Civil Rights Project, held a news conference near the historic Hidalgo Pump House on Wednesday to protest President Trump’s move to jump-start construction of more physical barriers on the southern border.

“This is a bad day for our community,” said Michael Seifert, network weaver for RGV Equal Voice Network.

Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of LUPE, agreed with Seifert’s assessment.

“Every time President Trump tries to do away with the advances our community has made, we will be very vocal and very resistant. Every time he speaks and it hurts our community, this community is going to fight back,” Valdez-Cox told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Valdez-Cox later issued this statement:

“Border communities are similar to the rest of the country: We are made up of diverse, tight-knit communities from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, with people who are proud of where they live. Our borderlands are some of the most environmentally diverse regions in our nation. We do not need border walls. We need our government leaders to work with us to bring down opportunities for our families to prosper, to protect our environmental diversity, and to protect our rights.

“The border wall is dangerous for our rights, our economy, and our environment. The walls already constructed have taken land from property owners, carved up wildlife habitat, and pushed migrants to cross in increasingly more dangerous sections of the border. The wall sends a message to visitors, our economic partners, and family members on both sides of the border: you are not welcome here.

“Border communities need our leaders to recognize our rights and work with us to bring opportunities to our region. We should be working together to protect border residents, our natural habitat and environmental diversity, and our economic interests.”

LUPE and other community groups are hoping that if the Rio Grande Valley is vocal in its opposition to the border wall, members of Congress in the rest of Texas and other parts of the country will take notice.

“Congress appropriates the funds for these projects. We need Congress to say this is not effective, this is not in line with our values as a nation, that It’s not in line with our priorities as a country security-wise,” said John-Michael Torres, public relations specialist for LUPE.

“Hopefully, that message will reach more ears in the interior of the country, reach more people in Congress and have that impact that we need.”

LUPE’s Valdez-Cox said community groups concerned about the building of more border walls and White House directives to target undocumented immigrants will be meeting at LUPE’s San Juan headquarters on Thursday, starting at 2 p.m.