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Interview with Pedro Ríos of AFSC: The wall will fall

Interview by Tribuno del Pueblo  |  Issue: February | March 2019
Pedro Ríos

Pedro Ríos

 

Pedro Ríos has worked with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for 15 years. He has been the director of the border program for 10 years.

Tribuno del Pueblo: In these 15 years that you have been working on border issues, how has the border changed?

Pedro Ríos: Immigration has always existed and it is not only Mexican immigration but also migrants from Central America and other diverse parts of the world.

There have been many changes. For example, Mexicans who immigrate today are emigrating more than anything because of the violence. They flee violence in their states, mainly from Michoacán and Guerrero.

We have seen different stages of immigration. There are different immigration flows, such as the immigration of a large number of Haitians a couple of years ago. They traveled almost all of South America, passed through Mexico and got here to the border.

The United States government’s response has also varied, but most certainly it has been a response to find ways to close the opportunities so that immigrants can’t enter the United States. The response has been stronger in recent years due to the Trump era.

TP: Has this caravan been different than the ones in the past?

PR: The difference has been in the methodology of how immigrants have searched for the best way, for their protection, to cross the dangerous routes in Mexico. The difference has been in the large number of people who have joined together to migrate. Even the smallest caravans represent a larger amount.

The last caravan was in the spring where approximately 300 to 400 people arrived in Tijuana. That caravan was more organized from the start. Organizations like Pueblo Sin Fronteras accompanied the caravan from the beginning.

This other caravan was more than anything an organic effort where a call is made and people see themselves with a possibility of being able to migrate together. In a larger group, it offers them protection that they do not have when they migrate alone.

The caravan is made up of very humble people, people who have not had the opportunity to find work, young people, and families. There are many single fathers traveling with their sons or daughters because their spouses have died, victims of the violence.

TP: How has the support of the people been?

PR: I have seen the willpower of the people in San Diego and elsewhere who have come to help. They look for ways to integrate their efforts to support the most needy people. They look for ways to say, “I do not agree with the policies of this government and I will do what I can to join the support effort.”

It’s very important because if you just think on how militarization affects us, on the policies that disdain immigrants, then we will not see how there are also examples of hope that those walls will fall. The wall will fall because of the efforts of the people here, in Chicago, New York, Florida and elsewhere. Efforts that say, “I will not tolerate you doing this in my name and I will take action from my trench.”

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