MISSION, RGV – Mission City Council members voted unanimously on Monday to oppose the construction of walls, fences or levee-walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.
With Resolution #1520, Mission joined Brownsville and La Joya in publicly denouncing President Trump’s proposed border wall.
Anti-border wall protestors like Father Roy Snipes of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and representatives from La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and the Sierra Club RGV were present for the council meeting, showing their support for the resolution.
After it passed, council members joined the cheering activists in a short round of applause. It was a hard-fought victory, coming weeks after border wall opponents converged at La Lomita Chapel in a unified demonstration of disapproval.
“This was a really big community effort. The resolution was really strong. It was strong against border walls, against levee-walls, against fencing. And, these are all things that would impact our city negatively because of cutting off access to areas of the city that make us who we are,” said John-Michael Torres, communications coordinator for LUPE.
In addition to La Lomita Chapel, for which the city is named, the National Butterfly Center, the World Birding Center at Bentsen State Park and Santa Ana Wildlife National Refuge are all in danger of being bisected by the border wall.
Melinda Melo, a Mission native who helped organize the effort to draft a resolution, says Hidalgo County is consistently listed as one of the safest places to live in America. She said a border wall is unnecessary.
“People in Washington don’t know what it’s like to live here,” Melo said. “… And, honestly we’re tired of people coming in here and telling us what to do with our land.”
Coming in to the meeting, though, Melo says she and her fellow activists were not sure what to expect. Based on past comments by Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas, wherein he said building the wall would be “the best thing that could happen to us,” the resolution’s future was unclear. But, after the vote, she was brimming with gratitude.
“If anything, we just really want to say thank you to the city, and, also, thank you to the mayor for standing by his community,” said Melo.
Unfortunately, the celebration could be short-lived. A spending bill with funding for the border wall passed through the House last month and is heading to the Senate. Norma Ramirez, a precinct chair for the Hidalgo County Democratic Party, says that potentiality will not deter activists.
“It’s a statement. Just because there’s approval and the funds are allocated doesn’t mean that we, as constituents in this community, cannot continue to try to make a difference,” said Ramirez. “So, we’ll continue the fight.”
Congress remains in recess until Sept. 5.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows Mission residents John-Michael Torres and Melinda Melo holding signs opposing a border wall. They are pictured outside Mission City Hall. (Photo: RGG/Patricia Martinez)