A large crowd gathered to hear Enrique Morones, activist and founder of the non-profit organization Border Angels, examine human rights Tuesday at Vander Vennet Theatre at Saint Mary’s.
Morones discussed immigration reform and legal options for future immigrant workers. He looked at border control in the United States and talked about the history of Border Angels, a non-profit organization that supports humane treatment of immigrants and Operation Gate Keeper, a border security operation established in 1994.
“Operation Gate Keeper built a wall between the United States and Mexico, and that wall has led to the death of thousands of people,” Morones said. “There have been 10,000 people who have died since Operation Gate Keeper.”
Border Angels was founded in 1986. The organization consists of volunteers who seek to stop unnecessary deaths of individuals traveling through areas located near the United States and Mexican border.
Morones told stories of people who tried to cross the border but were unsuccessful because of this wall and other conditions. He said we do not hear about these deaths in the media.
“We can all name who replaced Paula Abdul on American Idol and who won the gold medal and who won the Academy Award, but none of you can name any of these people who have died,” Morones said.
A high percentage of deaths resulted from extreme heat and cold weather conditions, Morones said. Some were also due to racial discrimination crimes, he said.
Morones discussed the Minutemen, a group of citizens who see themselves as protecting this country from illegal immigration, but Morones said they are a racist group that has committed hate crimes for years.
“Racist groups are very dangerous and these people have taken an issue with immigration. It is troubling,” Morones said.
Border Angels has worked hard to stop the hate crimes committed by the Minutemen and other racist groups, Morones said.
“When the Minutemen came to California in July of 2005, we planned actions against them to shut them down and we were successful,” Morones said. “We try to be an example with Border Angels.”
Morones said he believes the United States needs immigration reform in order to provide more legal options for future immigrants.
“If you are passionate about an issue, you need to do something about it. Ordinary people can do amazing things,” Morones said. “I would like the wall to come down, and it will come down in my lifetime. We want a pathway to legalization.”