Presidio marches against border wall, Muslim immigrant ban
By CAMERON DODD
PRESIDIO — More than 50 Presidio and Big Bend area residents marched through town Saturday morning in opposition to proposed Trump administration plans for a border wall and in solidarity with those affected by recently enacted immigration restrictions.
The march started at the flagpoles near the Cibolo Creek bridge and ended at the steps of Presidio City Hall, where a number of people gave impassioned speeches. The City of Presidio Police escorted the marchers as they made their way down Highway 67 toward the port of entry and along O’Reilly Street chanting, “Texas is for all” and “Tejas es para todos.”
“Don’t give up, don’t get tired, don’t get complacent,” Presidio Mayor John Ferguson told the crowd from the City Hall steps. Ferguson has been a vocal Trump critic and a long-time proponent of closer ties between Presidio and Ojinaga. “I think we’re starting to see the result of our actions together as a people … There’s nobody who is going to convince [Trump] of anything other than the masses of people standing up against him.”
Presidio’s proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border made U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to build a border wall the more pressing issue. But the marchers also took aim at executive orders signed by Trump last month barring immigrants and asylum seekers from seven Muslim-majority countries including Somalia, Syria and Iran.
A similar march organized in Presidio after the November presidential election garnered national media attention. Presidio and area residents marched to the middle of the international bridge where they were joined by Ojinaga residents. Saturday’s march was at least twice as large.
On January 20, more than 100 Mexicans from Ojinaga and other parts of Chihuahua protested on the international bridge, demanding to be treated with dignity by Trump, who that day was being inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
In addition to personal relationships strained by border security and immigration restriction, Presidio’s economic development plans hang largely on the city’s proximity and relationship with Mexico. The Texas Department of Transportation is still seeking a presidential permit from the U.S. State Department for expanding the Presidio-Ojinaga International Bridge, and Texas Pacifico Transportation is pushing through with plans to rebuild a railroad bridge over the Rio Grande that burned down in 2009.
A group from the Two Rivers Camp, a Native American-led movement in opposition to the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, joined the march.
“Don’t be afraid, don’t think just because you’ve grown accustomed or okay with dealing with certain things doesn’t make it right,” Two Rivers Camp leader Frankie Orona told the crowd at Presidio City Hall. “We need to get rid of those fears and come out and stand together to make a change, for a better future for generations yet to come.”
Area elected officials are starting to hear the concerns of border residents about the potential for a wall to be built along the Rio Grande. The Brewster County Commissioners Court passed a resolution in February opposing the construction of a border wall in the area. During the Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, Commissioner Lorenzo Hernandez requested a similar resolution be added to commissioners’ court’s next agenda.
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