LULAC ANALYSIS: THERE IS A WAR GOING ON ALONG THE BORDER, AND THE CASUALTIES ARE HIGHER THAN WE REALIZE
Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Warns of the Inhumanity Happening Daily Against Defenseless Asylum Seekers
August 9, 2023
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Eagle Pass, Texas – Domingo Garcia, National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), is standing at the southern edge of the greatest nation on earth, just a few feet from where the waters of the Rio Grande River touch U.S. soil at Shelby Park, in the shadow of the old bridge between Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Coahuila. This site is ground zero of a real war going on along the border. Not far from him, we spot an assortment of federal border agents, state troopers, and even fish and wildlife officers pulling duty along the river. Close by, national guard soldiers are standing watch after arriving from far-flung places like Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, and Tennessee. A new multi-state confederacy is here to amp up Operation Lone Star, a $5 billion unprecedented war against alleged drug traffickers and criminals invading Texas. However, officials admit that most illicit activity is by U.S. citizens.
"Governor Greg Abbott, aided and abetted by the now-impeached Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, are the field marshals to one of the state's darkest periods of unbridled persecution, illegal detentions, family separations, deployment of death traps, and intentional acts of pushing asylum seekers back into the water, including women and children, dozens of whom have died," says Garcia. "One family, Hugo and Magali Urbina, owners of Heavenly Farm, a 400-acre pecan orchard on the Rio Grande River, told me of personally witnessing 54 bodies pulled from the deceptively dangerous waters with the deadly undertow in just one week,' he adds.
Yet, here's how Abbott and his army score their victories in their online statement:
"Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, the multi-agency effort has led to over 377,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions and more than 28,000 criminal arrests, with more than 26,000 felony charges reported. In the fight against fentanyl, Texas law enforcement has seized over 417 million lethal doses of fentanyl during this border mission.
Texas has also bused more than 9,500 migrants to our nation's capital since April 2022, over 7,000 migrants to New York City since August 5, more than 2,000 migrants to Chicago since August 31, more than 1,100 migrants to Philadelphia since November 15, and 40 migrants to Denver since May 18."
Garcia issues a strong warning. "Let us be clear, the human cost of this so-called 'victory' is immeasurable. The real casualties are not just those refugees apprehended at the border but the essence of compassion and empathy that makes us human. We should be a nation that extends a helping hand to those fleeing violence and persecution, not pushing them back into harm's way or treating them as criminals."
Under the guise of security, Operation Lone Star's actions have led to a loss of innocence along the border. Families are torn apart, children are traumatized, and lives are lost. The rhetoric of fear drowns out the cries of desperation, and the values we hold dear as Americans are compromised in the process.
Instead of investing billions in a militarized approach that dehumanizes migrants, LULAC urges Texans and all Americans to demand we should invest in comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the root causes of migration, creates a fair and efficient process for seeking asylum, and provides a path to citizenship for those who contribute to our society.
"It's time for Texans to question the true cost of Operation Lone Star in terms of dollars spent and the erosion of our moral compass," admonishes Garcia. "The border is not a war zone; it's a place where diverse cultures meet, families seek a better life, and humanity should prevail over fear. Let's recognize that the true strength of our nation lies not in our ability to apprehend and detain but in our capacity to embrace and uplift," adds Garcia.
In the heart of the ongoing border conflict, where the harsh realities of human desperation meet the ironclad policies of state officials, our society faces a profound and distressing moral dilemma. Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton's approach to dealing with the relentless influx of refugees has sparked a war not only against those seeking shelter on our soil but also against the very essence of our humanity. What has become evident in this struggle is the eroding foundation of compassion and basic decency upon which our nation stands.
Undoubtedly, we must address the complex challenges posed by the flow of refugees arriving at our border. Yet, it is equally important to acknowledge that the casualties from Abbott and Paxton's war extend beyond the immediate conflict. The inhumane tools of barbed wire and buoys, employed to indiscriminately maim and even kill, disregard the fundamental principle that everyone deserves due process and humane treatment regardless of their background. This judge-jury-executioner mentality runs contrary to the principles of justice that should guide our actions.
Garcia sums up the high toll of this border war. "The values engraved in the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope for generations of immigrants, have been sacrificed at the altar of calculated military-style operations. The objective is clear: to keep people out. This objective, however, contradicts the teachings of even the most essential faith values, such as the evangelical account of Matthew, which speaks of caring for the hungry, thirsty, and strangers. The current reality paints a picture far removed from these values, and we must not turn a blind eye to this divergence."
LULAC's firsthand experience as part of a Congressional delegation allowed us to witness this policy's grim consequences. Even though certain areas had been "cleaned up" before our visit, the scars of this conflict are unmistakable. The once-thriving border regions have been transformed into a militarized war zone, where desperation and determination persist in the face of deadly obstacles.
The truth remains that people will continue to seek refuge on our soil, driven by dreams and hopes, much like the early settlers who crossed lands belonging to others. However, unlike those settlers, today's immigrants face life-threatening hazards and heart-wrenching family separations as the price for seeking a better life. The choice is whether we, as Texans and Americans, are willing to pay the high costs of a political war eroding our core values, conscience, and sense of redemption.
"We cannot afford to lose sight of our shared humanity as a society," Garcia sums up. "We must channel our resources and efforts toward comprehensive and compassionate solutions that uphold the principles of justice and mercy. It is possible to secure our borders while respecting the dignity of every individual. In doing so, we can reaffirm our commitment to the ideals that have long made America a symbol of hope and refuge for those yearning for freedom.”
Photo credit: Jerry Lara
LULAC urges Congress to consider that while the challenge is formidable, we must find a balanced approach that addresses the humanitarian crisis without forsaking our values. Let us rekindle the flame of compassion that has guided us through history and let it light the path toward a just resolution—one that demonstrates that we are a nation of both strength and compassion, where the safety of our borders can coexist with the warmth of human empathy.
As the sun sets on this border town, LULAC invites you to reflect on our choices as a society and the legacy we leave for future generations. It's time to rise above the rhetoric of division and reclaim our values of compassion, justice, and humanity. The real casualties of this war along the border are the principles that define us as Texans and as Americans. It's time to redefine victory in terms of unity and compassion and ensure that this conflict's true casualties are never forgotten.