SAN DIEGO, CA. - Members of the Dialogue for Immigration Reform of San Diego, a coalition of dozens of organizations, praised President Barack Obama for his stance on immigration reform today, but was cautious about the implications of reinforcing the border could bring.
Among the issues highlighted in the speech that the president made today in Las Vegas, Nevada, it emphasize strengthening border security, the promise of a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants living in the country and further sanctions on companies who hire undocumented immigrants.
Christian Ramirez, director of the Coalition of Communities South of the Border, stressed that it is time to demand action and have the president meet the promises he has made, because "there is a sense of urgency on this issue that needs to be addressed."
On a possible increase in resources to protect the area bordering Mexico, Ramirez considered that there should be also measures to regulate the Border Patrol Agents, and establish greater oversight and transparency to the agency to prevent the abuse of authority.
"If this is not treated properly, the border is once again going to pay the piper for a broken immigration reform package that seeks to regulate only a sector of the population. But it will be us near the border that will have to pay most of the price of this proposal, “Ramirez said.
In the past two years, the Coalition of Communities South of the border reported 18 deaths at the hands of Border Patrol agents, whom none of the officers who were involved in these incidents have received any kind of punishment.
Regarding this matter, Pedro Rios, who is the director of the American Friends Service Committee, stressed that there is concern over what increased border security, both as in technology and the workforce, and how this will affect the immigrant communities.
"The border is in some sort of way the bargaining chip," said Rios, adding that "any action on this border must always also include of how agents will be held accountable, given the increased abuses we have seen in recent years."
Manuel Enriquez, a student from San Diego State University, told Efe that he is concerned about the security at the border, because the fear mainly affects the neighboring communities.
"Our community lives in fear," said the young man, who is also the son of immigrants, and claims to have "friends who have been taken to detention centers, while still being just students, and being people who grew up here, for not having a piece of paper."
Meanwhile, Yazmin Bozin Mendoza, president of the organization of Latinos and Latinas in Action, praised the leadership shown by President because "it was time and it's time to have this opportunity."
"Yes, we are millions of people that made a mistake, we crossed not by choice but by necessity and I think we deserve a chance to prove that we are in this country to help," she told Efe.