Que Dicen? Student activists sound off [w/ video]

May 6, 2008 at 12:46 pm Leave a comment

Adelante Q&A: Student activists at UT Brownsville

canales

Crystal Canales
Psychology, Sociology,
Social Work, undergraduate

Canales first heard the border fence could cut across her campus when attending meetings held by Students for Peace and Change, a student organization. “A couple of weeks later I was holding a sign at a protest,” she said.

Border fence/wall/levee, what do you call it? Why?
I call it a wall just because even if people like to think that it is going to be some kind of peaceful fence, it basically symbolizes a refusal to keep communicating with the person or the people we seem to be having problems with, and that’s not a way to solve anything. So by calling it a wall, I am just calling it what it is and what it represents.

What, if any, impacts do you think the fence will have on the community?
There are so many to list, you could put them into so many different categories. There are environmental impacts, not just on the vegetation but also on the wildlife. And not just one species, not just a couple or a group, there are literally hundreds of species that would become extinct. And if you want to look at it from a socioeconomic standpoint, tourism would go down incredibly because of that and also because nobody is going to pay lots of money to come down here to see a wall instead of the river, which is part of our community, some would argue the heart of our community. That’s what brings us together: people crossing the river—and whether you do it to go see your family or to experience a different culture, that’s part of the reason that makes this the Valley, that’s part of the reason that makes this la frontera. More than that, the civil rights issues would be the main impact, and it really is going to be a militarization of the border. People say that it is not going to be like the Berlin Wall, but the truth is that it is because it is being built for, at heart, the same reason—we want to keep a certain people out of our country. And you can look at it from a standpoint of racism, you can look at it from a standpoint of economics, you can look at it from a standpoint of border security, either way, it all comes down to that; these people we don’t want to keep in our country, and we are doing everything possible to keep them out of it. We’re taking away their rights whether they are documented or undocumented residents, we are taking away the rights of the citizens here because our freedom is being compromised. The way Michael Chertoff has put it is, ‘You need to sacrifice for your country.’ What makes us really upset is that if government and all the laws that they have had haven’t been able to stop illegal immigration, how is these people making a sacrifice going to stop that? How is it fair to ask anyone of that?

villareal

Stephanie Villareal
Psychology, Government
Undergraduate

Born and raised on the border, Villareal is involved with Student Government and is the president of the Young Democrats on campus. “I wanted to get the full experience of the border life, and I don’t want that to be sacrificed for future generations to come,” she said.

Are there any positive effects about building the border fence?
I guess being down here—it’s easier to be biased toward the other side. Even here on campus, there have been people putting out letters to the editor in the Valley Morning Star and the Brownsville-Herald saying that the [Student Government Association] doesn’t speak for them. It’s not that we don’t speak for them; we completely understand that there are people who do favor the wall. There is so much that could be said on the affirmative side of it, and there is so much on the negative side. But we have to be able to look at it from a perspective that is right here in front of our eyes and understand how much of a negative environmental impact it will have on our native plants that have been preserved for so many years.

acuna

Mariano Acuña
Respiratory Therapy
undergraduate

Acuña is from Mexico but attends school in Brownsville. “My home is Brownsville, my home is Matamoros,” he said.

Do you a fence will have an impact on people who commute daily between border cities?
I don’t feel a fence is the adequate solution, and Congress should think more thoroughly about how the fence will affect the people living here in the Valley. In Mexico, you don’t hear much about it, it’s easier to keep it hushed over there. But I think the fence will affect [Mexico] in one way or another because the people living in Matamoros have family living in Brownsville and vice versa, and that’s not just Brownsville and Matamoros; it’s that way all along the border. We have the border; you have to cross with your visas and documents, but it’s also the place where you live. If you put a fence, it’s like you are affecting relationships with your family and your society.

VIDEO: Que Dicen?

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Entry filed under: Crossing Borders 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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