If you believe the Trump administration’s rhetoric to justify some of the most xenophobic U.S. immigration policies in recent memory, you might think the president is saving us from an invasion of “bad hombres.” But many people who actually live in communities along the U.S. border with Mexico are beginning to despise Donald Trump and his wrongheaded, racist policies, and they are fighting back.
One of the cities leading this charge is El Paso, TX, which is culturally and commercially linked to the Mexican border metropolis of Ciudad Juárez. Together, the two cities are home to just under 3 million people.
City officials in El Paso have been battling Trump and his policies since last November, along with other draconian legislation pushed by Texas Republican lawmakers. The people of El Paso are proud of their heritage, and they see the anti-immigrant backlash as an affront to their families and communities.
The latest example of this can be found in a weekend editorial published by the El Paso Times. After Trump won the presidential election last year, the newspaper called on city leaders to “lead the loyal opposition” by “speaking truth to the new power in Washington.”
Since then, two congressmen representing El Paso districts—one a Democrat, the other a Republican—have tackled key issues including fighting Trump’s proposed multi–billion–dollar border wall and working to block the president’s threats to scrap NAFTA.
El Paso city officials and business leaders also are no fan of embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to El Paso in April and used war-like terminology to describe the border, the city’s political and business leadership quickly and forcefully condemned his comments and effectively rebutted his false claims.
In May, El Paso County filed a federal lawsuit against the state to block Senate Bill 4, the so–called “show me your papers” law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott that bans sanctuary cities and criminalizes local law enforcement decisions deemed “uncooperative” by federal immigration authorities.
A month later, the El Paso City Council announced it had joined another lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other Texas cities against SB4, which is supposed to take effect on Sept. 1.
This week, an example of what the newspaper called the “most eloquent example of El Paso’s leadership” came in the form of an open letter written by El Paso Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz. Seitz warned that the dysfunctional U.S. immigration system is “breaking apart our community.”
We reject narratives that paint our border as a place of chaos, violence and mayhem. As a community deeply shaped by the reality of migration, we celebrate our strengths and unique identity, as well as its safety and security, even when others would belittle the contribution of migrants and falsely portray the reality of the border. Our border brings together cultures, peoples and countries. We are united in family, fiesta and faith. As one of the largest bi-national border communities in the world, migration is part of our DNA.
The editorial ended with a defiant, yet optimistic, tone: “Our mission will not be easy, but it is just. With persistence, we will succeed.”
Read the entire El Paso Times editorial here.