A Message from Board Chair, Carlos Moctezuma García
As a kid growing up along the South Texas border, my siblings and I learned the value of education and hard work from our parents, who labored tirelessly to ensure we had every opportunity to succeed.
It wasn’t easy. We lived in the housing projects known as “El Campito” in McAllen, Texas. There was poverty, little or no formal education, and extremely limited access to resources. But it was a childhood I would never trade because we also learned about struggle, survival, hard work, and compassion. We learned what it meant to be bi-national living along the border. We were poor, but we were also privileged. Border living allowed for frequent trips to Mexico to visit family, friends, or simply to buy tortillas. Those trips are much less frequent now.
In many Mexican border towns, including Reynosa and Matamoros, which I visited often as a child, the violence is palpable. Criminal organizations rule the plazas and control every movement – including the “lines” that the U.S. government has created in order to keep out refugees fleeing their countries in search of protection.
Some of these towns are the very same ones the State Department discourages U.S. Citizens from visiting, but where immigration judges say that people seeking relief in immigration court can live safely, because it’s only a 20-minute drive from McAllen. The hypocrisy is disturbing.
“…It wasn’t until I joined the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) that I gained the skills to fight back.”
ICE raids, border patrol checkpoints, expedited removal enforcement, passport issues – these things are not new to me. As a child growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, I was taught by my teachers to comply with the authorities and obey their commands. It wasn’t until I got older that I began to question such blanket compliance. It wasn’t until I attended law school that I felt empowered to challenge the institutions that I knew systematically oppressed members of my community. I was learning the law. I was reading about injustices and the advocates that shed light on important issues.
But it wasn’t until I joined the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) that I gained the skills to fight back. Now, as Chair of the Board of Directors, I ask that you join me in supporting NIPNLG, as we embark together on an exciting new period in the organization’s history under the Directorship of Sirine Shebaya.
Here’s why I urge you to join me in making a financial contribution to NIPNLG today:
- 10 years ago, when the government was arresting people in New York, Boston, and D.C., and sending them to immigration detention centers in South Texas, I called the NIPNLG for guidance on complicated criminal-immigration issues because they were the ones doing the hard work and they knew how to fight.
- 7 years ago, when the Obama Administration started caging families in immigration jails, I sought out advice from NIPNLG board members who were leading the fight against the Karnes detention center in Texas, and across the country, because they weren’t taking the aggression toward immigrants sitting down.
- 4 years ago, when a client was unlawfully given an expedited removal (ER) order for crossing into the United States at the port of entry, I teamed up with the NIPNLG lawyers to get the ER order vacated.
- Now, I can’t count how many times I’ve reached out to the NIPNLG for help with legal and advocacy issues related to the policies of the current administration, including currently working on fighting denaturalization cases.
From my family and my early upbringing, to my community, to my law school allies, and now to the broader community of progressive attorneys that make up the NIPNLG, I feel lucky.
Together, we can, and we will, change the draconian and hateful immigration system that today threatens our nation’s immigrant communities and puts insurmountable barriers to justice in front of them.
Will you help NIPNLG continue to lead the fight for the legal, civil, and human rights of noncitizens and all communities of color?
I am humbled to serve this great organization as the Chair of the Board of Directors. I ask that you join me in donating to support its work.
Carlos Moctezuma García
p.s. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions as the organization enters a new chapter in its history. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
p.p.s. Please contribute to our fall fundraising campaign today. To donate online, use nipnlg.org/donate. I promise that every dollar will be put to good use in the fight to protect and defend immigrant rights.