MAY 10, 2011

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA
Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights, asks the President to bring about change to border and immigrant communities
President Barack Obama: The Border Network for Human Rights is honored to welcome you to El Paso, Texas, and recognizes the importance of your visit to our community today, Tuesday May 10. It is our sincere hope, Mr. President, that you come to the border with an open mind to listen to the grave concerns of border residents. We have faith that this visit is about more than just politics and promises. We expect real reform that will keep our community safe and we deserve better than empty words. After 13 years of working for human rights on the border, your visit today is a rare opportunity for me, Mr. President, to share with you the expectations of our community. The community members and organizers that I represent today ask that I tell you about these urgent issues: Refocus Our Border Strategy Mr. President, we desperately need to refocus our failing border security strategy. Every year, more than 400 migrant workers die crossing the border. They are not criminals, they are people looking for an honest day’s work. And American tradition demands that we welcome and celebrate hardworkers. The past two years have seen a shocking increase in the number of migrants shot at the border and reported human rights abuses by border enforcement agents. Why does this administration and Congress ignore this escalating humanitarian crisis when it is the direct result of bad federal policy? Everyone trusted with enforcing the law on the border should understand that the border is part of the U.S. and the Constitution applies in our community. Furthermore, it has been proven that the vast majority of criminal threats to America, like drugs, enter the U.S. through legal means. Directors of ports of entry have said they do not have the resources to check every truck that enters the U.S. How can we afford to deploy tens of thousands of National Guard troops and Border Patrol agents, effectively militarizing the border, but cannot find the resources to check every truck entering the country? Why do we build a fence to keep migrant workers from crossing while trucks filled with drugs cross legally without inspection? These policies are obviously the result of political decisions, not common-sense decisions. We expect better. We ask you, Mr. President, to rise above the divisive rhetoric on immigration and provide relief to those impacted by ill-conceived border strategies. We expect a shift from quantity in border enforcement to quality. It’s time to account for policies that aren’t working. We must train law enforcement officers about the unique needs of the border. It’s time, Mr. President, to focus on real criminal threats and provide real solutions for immigrant workers and border residents. www.bnhr.org

Real Immigration Reform Can’t Wait Next, we have to be honest on the issue of immigration. The need for comprehensive immigration reform is not going away. We expect our President to do everything in his power to provide a real, common-sense solution for the millions of hard-working taxpayers who have put their sweat and blood into building America. These people are our families and friends. They are not criminals, in fact they are part of the solution. We expect action to recognize and legalize the individuals already living and working in our neighborhoods, and ask you to give them a clear path to become citizens of the country they love. We want our law-abiding neighbors to be able to come out of the shadows and live by our sides without fear of harassment or deportation. Particularly important to the future of both the Hispanic community and the American economy are the needs of DREAMers, the young students who have grown up as Americans but whose futures are threatened by their immigration status. We owe it to them and to our nation to give them the opportunity to learn and work in America without fear. We pledge our complete and total support if your renewed call for action immigration reform is sincere. Stop Raids That Separate Families Finally, Mr. President, we expect a stop to the raids. The increase in deportations in the last two years is disturbing considering your 2008 campaign promise to make comprehensive immigration reform your priority. We understand that you face serious challenges in Congress to pass reform now. But we do not understand why we weren’t able to create reform when there was a Democratic Congress, and why the U.S. continues policies such as 287 (g) and Secure Communities that deport working mothers and fathers, divide families and leave American children without their parents. It is in a President’s power to offer these families relief. We ask you to invoke your prerogative as President of the United States to offer Administrative Relief that will stop deportations and detentions of hard-working families and students. We cannot understand why this Administrative Relief has not happened yet. In summary, Mr. President, we ask you to keep your campaign promise on real immigration reform, to respect family values and to put the security of all who live and work on the border first in your policies and well as in your words. Respectfully,

Fernando Garcia
Executive Director, Border Network for Human Rights
BNHR is one of the leading immigration reform and human rights advocacy organizations in the U.S. Based in El Paso, Texas, BNHR has a membership of more than 4,000 individuals in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. BNHR also helps organize other civic-minded groups along the border and is the force behind the statewide Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance. The BNHR’s mission is to organize border communities through human rights education and to mobilize our members to ignite change in policy and practice.

To learn more about BNHR, please contact: Cristina Parker 915-875-9107 | cparker@bnhr.org

www.bnhr.org