tags: , , , Blog

Eagle Pass Border Residents To Greg Abbott: Give Us Back Our Community Park

Share This:

Eagle Pass border community residents have a message for GOP Governor Greg Abbott: give us back our beloved park. As part of his unprecedented challenge to federal immigration supremacy, Governor Abbott has seized control of Shelby Park, transforming a community space that once hosted quinceañeras, barbeques, and flea markets into a “military-style staging ground” that’s now being used “as a backdrop for political theater,” Eagle Pass residents and members of the Eagle Pass Border Coalition write in an open letter. 

They say their community has faced some menacing threats – but not from asylum seekers and migrants seeking new lives in the U.S. Rather, the threats follow dangerous and incendiary rhetoric and political stunts by Abbott. 

Eagle Pass residents say they “experienced a frightening spectacle” when Abbott “held a major press event at our local Shelby Park with 14 governors from out of state, and excluded any actual Eagle Pass, or U.S. border residents,” the letter states. “Due to your heavy-handed and highly staged media event and dangerous rhetoric about our border community, armed militias from across the United States were inspired to invade our normally quiet, safe, and peaceful border town.”

That border convoy was brimming with neo-Nazis, January 6 supporters, and an assortment of bigoted conspiracists who saw Texas’ rebellion as validation of their extremist ideology. It also inspired a Tennessee man who was enraged over a supposed “invasion” to try to join the convoy to shoot and maim migrants at the border. While the FBI prevented horrific bloodshed by arresting the man, Abbott has continued to challenge the federal government’s authority on immigration.

Abbott has “excluded the voices of the very residents who live here. Why? Because we would tell the true story of who we actually are: a beautiful, quiet and safe city,” the letter continues. Slate reported that some of Abbott’s supporters are similarly peeved. “Abbott created a hardship for us,” resident and Abbott voter Mike Garcia told the outlet.

“You are creating a fiction and using our community’s resources to do it,” Eagle Pass residents and members of the Eagle Pass Border Coalition continue. “You are telling a dangerous and misleading story about us, about the border, and our safe community. Crime statistics show that border communities are safer on average than most other cities in Texas and America. In doing so, you are inviting in the very danger that you claim to be protecting us against.”

Jessie Fuentes, a river outfitter in town, ripped out-of-town politicians “who come for a photo-op and leave.” We all remember the ridiculous images of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) standing in the shrubbery of the Rio Grande and claiming smugglers were “taunting” Americans from the other side. In 2021, the National Butterfly Center, a butterfly preserve near Mission, Texas, noted that the armed boat carrying a number of GOP lawmakers who went to the border for a publicity stunt passed the launch site of a two-story party boat. “The capt is the DJ and they have a bartender upstairs at the dance floor. Real dangerous area… NOT!”

“They don’t visit hospitals or schools,” Fuentes continued to Slate. “They get in a boat, ride around for a bit, take some pictures, and they’re gone. And they’ve got their photo in front of the border. But what about the locals, man? We’re tired.”

“We refuse to be treated as second-class citizens in our own town, in our own state, in our country,” the letter ends. “We kindly request that you relinquish control over Shelby Park and restore our rights and access to our own public space. We believe that it is possible to ensure border security without infringing upon the rights of local residents to access our cherished public spaces.” Read the letter in full here.