SAN JUAN, RGV – Hispanic members of Congress are to participate in an “Immigration Roundtable” in San Juan on Monday, hosted by U.S. Reps Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez, and La Unión del Pueblo Entero.
Among those slated to attend are former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, chair of the House Democratic Caucus.
Participants will discuss “push factors, legal aid, immigration reform, and border enforcement,” Reps. Vela and Gonzalez said, in a media advisory announcing the event. Various community groups will participate, including members of the RGV Equal Voice Network and Proyecto Juan Diego. The discussion is expected to center on the plight of immigrants under the new Trump presidency.
Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of LUPE, said the “Immigration Roundtable” is important because it will give colonia and low-income families an opportunity to explain the fear they have of being picked up ICE.
She said she is pleased to learn that the members of Congress attending the event want to hear the real stories of the families.
“They are very interested in hearing the real stories, not only on the effects of the executive orders but also about how folks in the Valley and the border area are responding, how are they feeling, how are they dealing with the different executive orders coming from Washington and from Trump,” Valdez-Cox said in an interview with Rio Grande Guardian. “I think they are the only ones here able to listen to the community and not only to the Border Patrol and ICE.”
The “Immigration Roundtable” is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. at LUPE’s Headquarters in San Juan, Texas. It will be open to nonprofits and the community in general.
Valdez-Cox also commented on next week’s planned visit by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. She said she was sure Ryan’s visit would be very different to that being organized by the Hispanic members of Congress.
“What they want to do in some way is justify, take back the stories on how dangerous our areas are, how much more security is needed, and in some way be able to justify the tremendous amount of money that Trump wants to spend on the border wall,” she expressed. “They want to be able to go back and be able to say ‘we went, we saw, and now we know that you are right President Trump, we do need a border wall’.”
She said she’s not expecting an invitation to meet with Ryan, but assured that LUPE will be there wherever the Speaker goes in the Valley.
“We want to show them that this community is strong and its resisting this and they will continue in whatever way this community can, defending themselves. We will stand strong. So, they will know that we are not just gonna fall on our knees and let them do whatever they want without hearing from the community,” Valdez-Cox said during the interview.
Valdez-Cox said Ryan would miss a huge opportunity by not hearing all the different stories this region has, and how hurtful it is to the area when the media and federal politicians only focus on the border wall and border security without looking into the contributions Mexico makes for South Texas.
“When, a few years ago, our economy was so bad, businesses in the Valley were being kept above water by Mexican shoppers and therefore Mexico is critical to this area,” she said. “The way they have been offending our neighbors feels very opposite from the realities we face with Mexico; how helpful they are to this economy.”
Ryan is scheduled to visit the RGV on Wednesday, February 22.