Migrants walk one mile in pursuit of justice

BROWNSVILLE — Brownsville resident Ninfa Aleman considers her 5-year-old daughter, Daisy, to be her greatest inspiration.

Daisy is the reason Aleman was walking alongside other undocumented migrants Thursday from Alice Wilson Park on East Levee Street to the U.S. Federal Courthouse on East 6th Street as part of the “Walk a Mile for Migrant Justice.”

Aleman — who is in the process of getting her visa — hopes to convey the message that papers or no papers, migrants are human beings, too.

“Having them doesn’t make you better or worse than other people. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the United Kingdom or Mexico, you have feelings and you get hurt,” Aleman said.

Aleman and the many others who walked in the heavy heat wanted to denounce a broken immigration policy that frightens migrant communities with the fear of deportation and detention and makes families suffer through consumer fraud and labor exploitation, according to Fuerza Del Valle Workers Center.

Rosas San Luis, one of the event organizers, said a walk is done on the 11th of each month to speak for the migrants without documents.

“We do it for the mothers and children who are incarcerated and in the detention centers all over Texas and the country,” San Luis said.

San Luis said the greatest obstacle to migrant rights is the current political climate and people like Donald Trump, who say hurtful things about the migrant community.

“It feels like (the federal government) is taking away the rights of immigrants as time passes,” she said.

A lot of migrants in the Rio Grande Valley are afraid to speak up themselves because they live in an area with a large U.S. Border Patrol presence, San Luis said.

And if they get stopped by police, the Border Patrol is immediately called, San Luis added.

Deaconess Cindy Johnson with El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church said she participated in the walk because immigrants deserve to be treated justly.

“That’s why we’re out here with our brothers and sisters. What I see is that there is really no pathway for migrants. And the separation of families and holding migrants in detention … all those things are bothersome to people of faith,” Johnson said.

Tara Carnesi accompanied Johnson to the walk for the same reason.

“No matter what side you’re on, immigrants should be treated with dignity,” Carnesi said.