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Amid Border Visits, Local Leaders Urge Solutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following Vice President Kamala Harris’ Friday visit to the Texas-Mexico border and ahead of Republicans’ visits this week, law enforcement and faith voices from Texas border communities are emphasizing the need for nuanced dialogue and bipartisan solutions.

The following are quotes from faith, law enforcement and other leaders along the border:

Sami DiPasquale, Executive Director, Abara, El Paso, Texas:
“There are no simple solutions to the challenges we see manifested on our U.S.-Mexico border. It will take a broad, nonpartisan coalition of people pursuing solutions in good faith — from addressing challenges in Central America and along migrant pathways, to updating immigration laws in the U.S., to collaborative cross-border, multi-sector coalitions along the border. We would love to see government agencies working in partnership with civil society and faith communities to invest in hurting communities and welcome the most vulnerable with dignity.”

Chief Andy Harvey, Pharr, Texas:
“Despite what the media and politicians may say about the Texas border, the Rio Grande Valley is safe. I urge elected officials on both sides of the aisle to listen to actual law enforcement leaders here working to protect our border communities in Texas: we need solutions that both secure our borders and protect asylum-seekers from being victimized. Let’s keep our dialogue about people, not politics.”

Chief Victor Rodriguez, McAllen, Texas:
“As a police chief, keeping our community safe is top priority. Those of us who live along the border know that the border issues that our country faces today demand that politics be set aside and bipartisan policy solutions finally adopted.”

Bishop Mark Seitz, El Paso, Texas, speaking Friday to Vice President Kamala Harris (as quoted in Catholic News Service):
“The sacrifices of the pandemic borne by our Dreamers, undocumented essential workers and their families, who ensured our health, nourishment and safety and made possible our recovery, must be matched by our standing with them in their struggle for citizenship. … The Central American archbishop and martyr, Oscar Romero, once said that ‘there are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.’ I invite you to touch the suffering flesh and hear the stories of those forced to approach the gates of this city seeking protection. We must stand with our neighbors in their struggle to be artisans of their futures.”
Bishop Seitz is also a National Immigration Forum board member.

Monica Weisberg-Stewart, Chairwoman, Immigration and Border Security Committee, Texas Border Coalition:
“The number of migrants in ICE holding facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border and the longstanding backlog of cases in immigration courts are troubling. They are evidence of a broken asylum and immigration system that Congress should have fixed years ago. Migrants will continue to come so long as economic and political pressures drive them out of their homes, and border communities will bear the brunt of receiving them until Congress addresses the problem with well-functioning immigration courts, smart border enforcement, infrastructure investment at the land ports of entry to facilitate legitimate trade and travel, comprehensive immigration reform, and support for local border communities that provide humanitarian assistance.”

Ali Noorani, President & CEO, National Immigration Forum:
“Effective, sustainable solutions at the border will not come from politicized town halls, draconian restrictions or one-size-fits-all enforcement. Instead, lawmakers in search of good-faith immigration solutions should work with the White House to prioritize bipartisan compromise and build consensus. An effective approach to border security can’t happen in a vacuum. It goes hand-in-hand with a modernized, functioning immigration system and a multilateral strategy to address the root causes of migration.”

To request interviews with these and other border leaders, please contact Dynahlee Padilla.


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