Yesterday, Rep. Filemon Vela (TX-34) held a press conference alongside other lawmakers and border community residents who are currently suing the Trump administration over its illegal attempts to construct border barriers using federal funds seized through an illegitimate declaration of national emergency. The proposed border wall would cut through the historic 154-year old Eli Jackson Cemetery and the 145-year-old Jackson Ranch Church, including potential exhumation and desecration of loved ones’ and veterans’ remains. It would also block communities in Laredo from accessing parts of the Rio Grande River, and sever First Nations people who have lived in the area for centuries, well before there was a border.
Quotes from the Speakers:
“President Trump’s illegal emergency declaration at the border is a clear attempt to circumvent Congress to provide more money for the border wall,” said Rep. Filemon Vela (TX-34). “Since his election, President Trump has tried to obtain border wall funding through any source, regardless of legality or consequence. But construction of the border wall comes at the expense of our nation’s brave veterans from both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.”
“The federal government wants to cage us up and rip us apart from our lands and our river. They have become complicit in one of the most lamentable chapters in border history. We ask Congress to stop funding the wall, protect our historic and sacred sites,” said Tricia Cortez, Executive Director at Rio Grande International Study Center.
“Sins of omission and sins of commission have been committed against all those who live on the border. The truth is that there is no emergency at the border besides the one this administration created. I wouldn’t have raised my children three miles away from the border if it were any other way,” said Dr. Ramiro Ramirez, caretaker for the historic Jackson Ranch Chapel cemetery.
“The Eli Jackson Chapel and Ranch symbolize who we are as the United Methodist Church and even who we are as a nation — bilingual, multicultural, and multiracial. It also has connections to the Underground Railroad. It is a place of spiritual nourishment and refuge for the community. And so we stand together with people who are being impacted on the border and we stand up for what is right and just,” said Rev. Joseph Archie, District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church, from Wilmington, DE.
“As Congress discusses appropriations bills, think about the sacredness of these places and the land as a whole that First Nations have had for centuries. The Carrizo Comecrudo tribe, the Ramirez Family, the descendants of the Jackson Family, the Rio Grande International Study Center, and all of the other plaintiffs that Earthjustice is representing in court fighting this need you to stand by the values that you’ve been preaching all along. We continue to fight and we continue to bring the voices of those most impacted here so that Congress understands what’s really at stake,” urged Raul Garcia, Legislative Director of Healthy Communities at Earthjustice.
Erin Fitzgerald, Earthjustice