Public Comments at Brownsville City Commissioner’s Meeting- 2/19/2008

Teachers are always talking about how their students teach them so much more than they have taught. This is not empty rhetoric. Yesterday evening, I attended my first City Commissioner’s Meeting here in Brownsville, Texas, because 2 of my students wrote essays on what Martin Luther King would say today about immigration. They taught me that Honor Roll students are still entered into the same lottery system for citizenship as everyone else. They taught me that the power of hope, that the “faith of a child” to send their essays to Princeton University is the type of powerful force which can and is changing our country as we speak. As I sat there, overwhelmed to see my students receiving accolades and shaking the hand of Mayor Ahumada who has defiantly opposed the wall, Alexa and Mayra and their families taught me pride.    So, when I got up to give my Public Comments to commemorate my students’ hard work and their indefatigable optimism, I was more than a little nervous because I wanted to do them proud by their teacher. The following is my speech:

 

“Walls are made to support roofs, not to divide neighbors. Walls are supposed to keep out the rain, not hard-working students who earn 100% in English-as-a-Second-Language classes and dream of one day attending excellent American universities Walls are made to support a family, not separate spouses and children from their mothers. Walls are intended to keep families safe, not to terrify immigrants and not to segregate nations. Walls have always been used to make a home, but they should never be used to keep out hard-working, well-meaning people who just are not “lucky” enough to have been born 1-mile to the north. Walls are for hanging pictures of people we love, not to send a message of hate to would-be immigrants and to those who are legally here.

Martin Luther King wisely said, “The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.” The entire United States can learn ideas of coexistence, integration, and community strength by simply studying the Rio Grande Valley and its relationship with its neighbor. While politicians in capitals are debating the “idea” of some 12 million extralegal residents, Brownsville and other cities on la frontera are living proof that 99% of these immigrants sincerely want to work and contribute to American community and economy. The very idea of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 is ignorant of the real contribution these immigrants make on a daily basis.

My students Alexa Mireles and Mayra Flores are the epitome of this. Both of them represent newly-immigrated Mexican-Americans who are highly successful in America. I have the pleasure to teach many talented and ultra-motivated ESL students at Rivera High School everyday. These scholars are A+ students and have dreams of one day attending some of the best universities in the land. A border wall, the border wall they wrote against in their essays for the Princeton University Martin Luther King Day Celebration essay contest, would separate many of these students from their parents, sisters, friends. This human element, largely ignored when discussing 700 miles of wall, is why I am against the wall.

Tonight, I stand in support of this Valley’s mayors, politicians, and landowners who have courageously defied the idea of a border wall in their backyard. Mayor Ahumada, you have made this the issue of your tenure as mayor, and I applaud your efforts to nonviolently oppose the destructive influence of the Secure Fence Act of 2006. You and I both know that the money which would be spent on separating two nations and thousands of families could be better spent building homes in our city on the border by the sea, the poorest city in the nation.

Tonight, I wish to invite you, the Commissioners, and every concerned citizen from Roma to Brownsville, to join me and the Border Ambassadors as we walk on this 43rd anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March. This March Against the Wall will show the solidarity of border communities against the Secure Fence Act, and it will also encourage those willing to stand up for the immigrant and la frontera. We ask for your endorsement, your public support, your prayers, and we hope to see you on the 16th as we finish our march here at 5:00 on the UTB lawn. Dios te bendiga. <http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/moore_84628___article.html/king_guerra.html>

So far, Mayor Pat Ahumada and Commissioner Edward Camarillo have accepted the invitation to come to the closing rally and the challenge to continue nonviolently opposing the border wall.

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6 Responses to “Public Comments at Brownsville City Commissioner’s Meeting- 2/19/2008”

  1. E Says:

    This is wonderful. God Bless!

  2. mpw160 Says:

    E –
    Thank you so much for reading my blog. In my 1.5 years here in the Valley the 300 students I have had in class, sports, and clubs have indelibly etched their lessons about life into my mind. My stance on immigration, after having the pleasure to work with new immigrant children, changed from a head to a heart issue.

    Thanks, and I hope to see you back at the site soon!

  3. Melissa Zamora Says:

    great speech …

  4. mpw160 Says:

    Melissa –

    Thanks so much for finding your way over to my site. I have been really impressed Bloggin’ All Things Brownsville. I would love to officially extend an invitation to our No Border Wall Walk this March 8-16. If you only blog about Brownsville, though :), you should definitely join us on the last day as we hold a huge rally at 5:00 on the UTB main lawn.

  5. Pro-Migrant Blogs I’ve Recently Discovered « Says:

    […] full of wonderful articles and they are conducting a no border wall walk this March. Here’s one quote from this site written about the border wall. You should visit this site and read the many […]

  6. Seymourmp Says:

    i am gonna show this to my friend, brother

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