Border Angels Celebrates Humanitarian Efforts
By Mario A. Cortez
Emotional images depicted the opening of a door in the border wall between Playas de Tijuana and Border Field State Park, to reunite families that have been separated by the border. Parents and their children melted in embrace for the first time in years. The door of hope opened this past April and for brief minutes, the border no longer mattered.
With the intent of opening more doors, Border Angels, the local volunteer organization which has fought for the dignity and human rights of immigrants and the Latino community for over 29 years, held its fifth annual fundraiser dinner. The gala held at the Wyndham Bayside hotel in Downtown San Diego brought together members of the binational community to create awareness of of the humanitarian efforts of this organization, raise funds and recognize outstanding individuals and their work benefiting immigrants.
“Our theme this year is ‘Opening the Door of Hope’ because we have the hope that there will be immigration reform soon” said Enrique Morones, founder and head of Border Angels. “This is the largest fundraiser dinner we’ve had in our history”
Over 400 attendees had the opportunity to make donations and participate in a silent auction which benefited the organization.
“We go to the desert to drop water, we feed day laborers, we have immigration attorneys on Sundays and Tuesdays, we go to Friendship Park so people can know about the wall and see their families on the other side. We also do work in Tijuana, we work with veterans and we are all over the country,” explained Morones.
The work of three individuals in benefit of immigrants and the Latino community was also recognized. Peter Schey, President of The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law received the Roberto Martinez Lifetime Achievement Award for defending the rights of detained immigrants, children and other minority groups through legal action.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Special Assistant to President Barack Obama , Senior Deputy Director of Public Engagement and Cesar Chavez’s granddaughter, received the Starfish Lifetime Achievement Award for coordinating efforts to create effective immigration reform and reaching out to Latino organizations on the creation of the Affordable Care Act.
“ I’m just really excited to be here and to pay tribute to Enrique, to the organization and to the countless volunteers who have made a tremendous commitment to insure that ur immigrant brothers and sisters and their families are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” stated Chavez who also called for civilian participation. “It starts with the individuals, in our homes in our schools, in our colleges and universities, in our city councils. At every single level we need to make sure that we make an impact and our voices heard. There is tremendous power in individual action and when individuals come together with organizations of like minded people. That’s when we see our power.”
Martha Leticia Castañeda, Regent President of the city of Tijuana’s Border Issues Commission received the Fronterizo award for her role in coordinating the opening of the door in Friendship Park from the Mexican side of the border.
“We work with deported immigrants and immigrants in transit to the border who arrive to Tijuana with no way of reaching relatives in the United States. We offer them a link to them” Castaneda said about her work.
“We keep on creating awareness and opening doors. We will keep on working with the Mexican senate to have an official protocol procedure to welcome back our deported brothers and sisters.”
“I accept this award with much pleasure and thanking Border Angels but this is more of recognition to all of our teamwork” remarked Castaneda about her distinction.
Dave Rivas, member of Border Angels’ Board of Directors, expressed his delight at the night’s turnout.
“It’s a great event and we just want to raise awareness of not only our organization, but our issues here at the border. This dinner is not just about Border Angels, it’s the human cause that we are all about,” said Rivas. “I want everyone to take something home to think about.”