It was hot in Texas! 103 to be exact when we made our first stop mid-morning and embarked from the air-conditioned bus. First on our itinerary was to view the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge. Funny how my brain skimmed over the word “view” and focused on the word “bridge” leading me to think we would see for ourselves the vast number of people coming across the border. I pictured hundreds of people beneath the shade of the bridge waiting to come into the U.S. Wrong! We were on the highway to the bridge, so we did see it from a distance, but turned off to visit the Hidalgo County Water Improvement District therefore we did not get to witness the scenes you see on Fox News.
The bus drove through gates in the wall for us to reach the Water Improvement District where we met with businessman and owner Othal Brand, Jr. We stood on the banks of the Rio Grande; at this point, the river is 500 ft. wide and 5 ft. deep, the border is in the middle of the river, and Othal tells us they have pulled twelve dead bodies out of the river. It is hilly here and looking at the other side you see brush with trails leading down to the river, but you cannot see beyond. No matter where you go through the wall you are still in the U.S., so those businesses that happen to be on the southern part of the wall have nothing but the river between them. Othal tells us no one lives in the county or country any longer, they have all moved to the city because they have been overrun making it unsafe. Growing up here their family and friends fished, boated, and picnicked on the river, but no more. He says, “this isn’t America.” We learn that McAllen is currently doing better as they have tried to make life for the Cartel in their area more difficult. As I walked back to Othal’s truck with him to get his business card he said, “make people where you live understand what’s happening in Texas is coming to their town.” (Below is an image of the Rio Grande River where we were standing).
Only approximately one million green cards are given to enter the country each year; however last year alone 2.4 million undocumented immigrants were allowed to enter. Why is that? Policy, our government has made it so difficult to enter legally that people either come illegally or give up and go to other countries. Our government is encouraging people to break our laws, by making it difficult. In 2018 there were thirty-two million people who applied for entry, only one million were accepted. Legal immigrants to the U.S. are important in all types of businesses because they have something to offer. Those who come illegally become a drain to our system.
The last stop on our itinerary was Catholic Charities. One of our leaders for the day asked us when we visited the site not to view the people as illegal but as people trying to survive, we do not know their situation or what they have been through. The people that turn themselves in after crossing or get caught are processed by the border patrol according to government policy meaning once they are finished processing, they are released to the streets. Imagine yourself going into a foreign country with only what you can carry, not speaking the language, and once you have been admitted you start off walking to an unknown destination. It truly is a humanitarian crisis that our government has created!
Because our government allows these people to come into the U.S. and then drops them like hot potatoes to go wherever they please, Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas stepped up to do what the government is not doing. Primarily they take in families, but they will take a man with a child or a female with a child. Doors are kept locked so that not just anyone can enter the building, volunteers come every day to help. Those who work for the Charity do their best to restore the dignity of these people as they have no idea what they have encountered on their trip. Those coming in are fed, given any essentials needed, and a place to sleep with the goal of processing each family through the facility within 24 to 48 hours. Each person coming in has a sponsor, so the process starts immediately to transfer them. If a sponsor does not work out, they are allowed to stay a few more days until a sponsor is found. There were a lot of small children in the facility, to me the ratio of adults to children did not match up leading me to wonder what many of them had faced and with whom. I interacted with one little boy coloring and then flying airplanes. He did not speak English and I did not speak Spanish, but a universal smile connected us. He was happy with the attention.
I do not condone the millions of people that have entered our country illegally, but I can‘t help having empathy for the women and children. We were the third trip that Americans for Prosperity has sponsored to the border, and they plan to continue as their mission is to have people go back to their hometowns and spread the word that what is going on in Texas is coming to your town. What does that mean? Your safety, along the border the workers and residents carry guns. There is a financial drain on the communities to provide housing, schools to provide education, hospitals to provide health care, etc. Unless I have missed it here in the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area, I have not heard a word from our local media or leaders as to how we are to manage our resources when these people make it to our community. The Tea Party movement began because our elected officials were not representing the people. Once again, ‘We the People’ need to get the attention of our elected officials to rectify the border situation.
Betty Overstreet, Executive Director