Charro Days Fiesta issued a statement in response to an open letter from local coalition Frontera Progressives calling on the festival to remove federal immigration agencies from its parade and other events.
The statement was issued on Monday in response to the requests made in the open letter, which appeared in a story published by The Brownsville Herald Sunday.
On Monday, Charro Days denied the request to remove U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from the Color Guard Parade and other events, writing that “throughout the years all Local, State, and National Law Enforcement agencies have been proud and respected participants in the Charro Days Inc. parades.”
The letter from Frontera Progressives was emailed directly to Charro Days and local reporters. It called on the festival to remove CBP and ICE agents from its Color Guard Parade and other events in which the federal agencies have an official presence.
The coalition referenced family separation, migrant deaths in immigration detention, and recent reports detailing CBP’s refusal to allow sick and disabled asylum seekers entry into the country to access medical care in violation of the agency’s own policy.
“While we understand that they are a part of our community and may perform an important public service, it is also the case that they have worked aggressively to enforce border policies that have ripped families apart within our own community, denied people their basic rights, prevented people access to critical medical care, and even led to the deaths of numerous people,” the letter stated.
Charro Days responded by re-centering the festival’s history. The first fiesta celebrated the Valley’s rich cultural heritage, but was created in part as a response to the local impact of the Great Depression, according to the Charro Days website.
“Charro Days Inc. was Created to lift community spirits during difficult times.” Article 12 of our by-laws simply states: “Charro Days Inc. is an enterprise undertaking of all the PEOPLE of Brownsville and the immediate surrounding community of such city. We understand and recognize the views of all, but we are not a political or governmental agency,” Charro Days wrote in the statement.
“We will continue our community’s celebration and provide activities in a non-threatening, family-oriented tradition.”
Charro Days declined to comment any further on the statement. An organizer with Frontera Progressives said the coalition was not immediately available to respond.