Citizen Journalists
Reporting On News Media Bias

Trip to the Southern Border- The Libre Initiative

I work with a great organization called EmpowerU. Our motto is to Educate, Inform and Engage.  We host classes on a broad spectrum of topics. The speakers teach their topics of expertise from all different backgrounds. We have some classes on history, some on current events and some just for fun!

I was part of the EmpowerU Team that went down to McAllen, Texas to visit the southern border to see firsthand what is going on there. The trip was sponsored by Americans For Prosperity (AFP). AFP is a grassroots organization to help people achieve their American Dream through policy change. McAllen is near the very southern tip of Texas, near Brownsville.

 This was an amazing opportunity because we got to hear directly from multiple people that have dealt with different facets of immigration. When you hear what’s going on in the news, interviews could possibly get clipped due to time or cherry-picked to what follows their narrative. They can possibly even leave out what is really going on and that would leave the public uneducated because what is happening at our borders is eventually going to come to us. Every city is beginning to become a border town. Immigration is affecting all of us. We heard from multiple speakers that the drive to protect the border is there, it’s just left on local and state resources to enforce the current federal policies. There are federal policies that limit the local and state’s ability to protect our border properly.

AFP has a sister organization called the Libre Initiative. One of the leaders for our trip, Kennedy LeFave is the National Campaigns & Projects Director at The Libre Initiative. Kennedy started a Libre Initiative chapter for the Rio Grande Valley area.

The Libre Initiative has 26 chapters in 12 states across the country. Libre is a grassroots organization rooted in the Hispanic community and their goal is to create freedom and opportunity for the community to create a positive impact for our country. Their goal is to advance policy that is geared at helping individuals become Inter-Dependent as opposed to being government dependent.

The Libre Initiative promotes freedom and liberty by working through policy and educating immigrants on our government system. Kennedy explained to us around 10 years ago, only about 4% of the voting population for the Rio Grande Valley area were voting. Decisions and laws were being made based on 4% of the population! This means the 4% could get easily swayed one way and it would not reflect the actual values of the population. Kennedy also explained to us that since a lot of the area are immigrants (around 85% are Hispanic in the McAllen area) they are not really taught our election system and how important it is to vote.

 Some immigrants’ home countries people immigrate from, they have elections so frequently government officials don’t have time to accomplish anything. So, the voters don’t see the purpose in voting. They might not know that you must vote on something every two years here and voting really does matter. Since the Libre Initiative began and helped spread the importance of voting, the voting population has grown to around 55% now.

The word “Libre” in Spanish means “Free”, it is very inspiring that is the name of their organization. EmpowerU is considering looking into possibly starting a chapter to assist with Cincinnati’s growing Hispanic population. 

Leigh Ann Cartier


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