(Border Report) — Human rights advocates from across the country are highlighting what they call injustices along the Southwest border and will caravan along its entire 2,000-mile length beginning this week in the South Texas border city of Brownsville.
The “Journey for Justice” border tour starts on the evening of Friday, Dec. 2, with a light show at Xeriscape Park, in Brownsville, Texas. The caravan is scheduled to depart from Boca Chica Beach at sunrise Saturday, and make stops in several border towns during the 16-day journey:
- Laredo, Texas – Dec. 3
- Uvalde, Texas – Dec. 4
- Eagle Pass, Texas – Dec. 5
- Marathon, Texas – Dec. 6
- Big Bend National Park, Texas – Dec. 7
- Tornillo, Texas – Dec. 8
- El Paso, Texas – Dec. 9-10
- Columbus, N.M. – Dec. 11
- Douglas, Arizona – Dec. 12
- Nogales, Arizona – Dec. 13
- Sasabe, Arizona – Dec. 14
- Yuma, Arizona – Dec. 15
- Calexico, Calif. – Dec. 16
- San Ysidro, Calif. – Dec. 16-17
- San Diego – Dec. 18
The driving caravan is scheduled to end in San Diego on Dec. 18, which is International Migrants Day.
Read updates from Border Report:
Monday, Dec. 5, 2022
8 a.m. CDT:
UVALDE, Texas — The caravan has left for Eagle Pass, Texas, about 60 miles west. They will help at a shelter that assists migrants, and some participants plan to cross into Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande.
Before departing, Witness at the Border group founder Joshua Rubin told Border Report the visit to Uvalde and the first leg, so far, was much more emotional than he had expected.
“In some ways it’s been a great disappointment to come down here and find out two things; one that terrible things have happened and continue to happen and the other thing is that the expectation that somehow since I’ve done this so much before that might be tough enough to take this without it reaching me the way it’s reaching me. What we have gone through in the last few days has only gotten harder. I’m not an easy crier but what the people have gone through here is so much bigger than anything I can imagine and it makes me feel very small and all I think to do is continue to look and tell people what I see and that’s what this thing is and that’s what this justice for journey is about,” Rubin said.
The group plans to make it to El Paso by Friday.
Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022
5 p.m. CDT:
UVALDE, Texas — Journey for Justice participants toured Uvalde, Texas, on foot to admire the many murals that have been painted on the sides of buildings to honor the Robb Elementary School victims.
“These murals will keep us,” Magdaleno Rose-Avila told the group as described the colorful paintings. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report Photos)
2:30 p.m. CDT:
UVALDE, Texas — Family members of two victims of the Uvalde shootings at Robb Elementary School met at a private location to share their grief with the Journey for Justice participants.
Manuel Rizo, uncle and godfather to Jackie Cazares, who was 9 when she was killed; and Abel Lopez, father of Xavier Lopez, who was 10 when killed, spoke about gun control and banning assault weapons and putting age limits on gun regulation laws.
Xavier’s grandmother, Amelia Sandoval, cried as she described how he “loved to dance. He was my dancing partner.”
Manuel Rizo, left, uncle to Jackie Cazares, and Abel Lopez, father of Xavier Lopez, speak to Journey for Justice participants in Uvalde, Texas, on Dec. 4, 2022. Xavier’s grandmother Amelia Sandoval, right, cried as she recalled how her grandson loved “to dance.”
Sandoval said she “is at a loss for words because I am lost without him.”
Abel Lopez said his family did not celebrate Thanksgiving and he isn’t looking forward to Christmas. He says they have built a shrine for Xavier in their house and his littlest son goes in there “to talk to his brother.”
Rizo urged participants to reach out to their lawmakers to support gun control measures, like Senate Bill 736, which calls for a ban on assault weapons.
“We shouldn’t be here. None of these families should ever go through this,” Rizo said “It makes me angry and you can turn that anger into action.”
1:30 pm. CDT:
UVALDE, Texas — The normally boisterous caravan grew eerily quiet as the group got out of their vehicles at Robb Elementary School — where 19 students and two teachers were gunned down on May 24 inside their classrooms.
Fran Schindler, 83, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was immediately overcome with grief.
“This is awful. This is a nightmare. Nobody should have to see their children end up like this ever,” Schindler cried as she stepped through the makeshift memorials erected in front of the now abandoned school.
Wreaths, flowers, ribbons, concrete hearts, photos, lanterns, wind chimes and candles were among the hundreds of items left in remembrance of the 21 who were killed.
Journey for Justice participants toured Robb Elementary School on Dec. 4, 2022, as they stopped in Uvalde, Texas. They left a signed sign that read “You are not alone” in Spanish. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report Photos
Members of Journey for Justice hung a sign on the school’s fence that read “NO ESTAN SOLOS” (You are not alone.) Participants wrote words of encouragement on it.
“When I first pulled up here I was overwhelmed with sadness and pain but now I’m just really angry. I’m so angry. I have grandchildren the same age as these children,” said Realtor Sue-Ann Divito, 59, of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, told Border Report. “This is such a small school. Four hundred officers stood outside while these children were murdered. It’s not right. It’s just not right.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The Texas Tribune reported 376 law enforcement responded to the shootings at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022.]
11:15 a.m. CDT:
CARRIZO SPRINGS, Texas — Deputies with the Dimmit County Sheriff’s Department gave the caravan an escort as they passed through the tiny border town of Carrizo Springs, Texas, population 4,800. The town is about 50 miles from Uvalde, Texas.
Joe House, 68, a Carrizo Springs retiree, greeted the caravan at the Stripes gas station and thanked them for trying to bring peace to the border.
“You hope things get better for our country and the best for everybody and peace for everyone,” said House who added that he would vote for Donald Trump for president in 2024 if he gets the Republican nomination.
9 a.m. CDT:
LAREDO, Texas — About 20 vehicles –including two trailers and a decorated truck — left Tres Lagos Park on the banks of the Rio Grande in downtown Laredo headed for Uvalde, Texas, and points West. A driving rain forced the group to leave early.
8 a.m. CDT:
LAREDO, Texas — Abner Arauz, 29, of Nicaragua, reached out to Border Report to say he located his sister who had been separated from him and in ICE detention in Brownsville. Arauz said his sister called him Saturday afternoon. She had been released by ICE on Friday and stayed at a hotel near the Team Brownsville Welcome Center. “I’m so grateful and happy for that,” he said.
Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022
8 p.m. CDT:
LAREDO, Texas — After its first full day of travel, the Journey for Justice caravan arrived in Laredo. Participants are staying in hotels, campgrounds and homes of host families throughout the border city.
They will meet at 8:30 a.m. CDT on Sunday at Tres Lagos Park, on the Rio Grande, before departing for Uvalde, Texas.
2:30 p.m. CDT:
HIDALGO, Texas — At the Hidalgo Pump House and World Birding Center, participants held hands in a circle and held a moment of silence in memory of Diomani Ramos Laurencio, a 23-year-old asylum seeker who was shot while entering the United States in February 2021 after an incident with a Border Patrol agent..
“The thing we need to do at each stop in our journey is to connect with those who died or sacrificed to get here,” Camilo Perez-Bustillo told the group.
“They say he was holding a rock,” Perez-Bustillo said. “But it was never established whether he ever threw a rock.”
Said Perez Bustillo: “Ellos son nosotros y nosotros somos ellos.” (They are us and we are them.”
12 p.m. CDT:
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The caravan with 20 vehicles — including two trailers and one painted truck — departed Alice Wilson Hope Park in Brownsville, Texas, heading east 55 miles to the border town of Hidalgo, Texas.
Some participants, like Joshua Rubin, who helped organize the Journey for Justice, took their belongings and piled in cars driven by those willing to give rides (below).
11 a.m. CDT:
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Participants split into two groups. Some went to Team Brownsville’s Welcome Center to help asylum seekers just released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. A few crossed into Matamoros, Mexico, where they said they saw “thousands” of migrants sleeping on the streets without tents or shelter near an area where a migrant camp used to exist but is now fenced off and inaccessible.
Abner Arauz, 29, of Nicaragua, said he traveled 25 days to get to Reynosa, Mexico, where he crossed near Hidalgo, Texas, and was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents. He spent two days in detention and was released with a group of 50 men. He was grateful for the banana and mini muffin and free hygiene supplies — like clothes, toothbrushes and coats, that Team Brownsville volunteers gave to him.
“It’s pretty hard honestly in my country, trying to grow professionally,” said Arauz, an English teacher in Nicaragua and interpreter. He’s headed to Colorado to meet his wife, but said he doesn’t know what happened to his 31-year-old sister.
“It’s a pretty warming place especially for people like me, to do this for people coming from everywhere to give them help. For me, I was not expecting this,” he said of the Welcome Center.
9 a.m. CDT:
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The group met at Alice Wilson Memorial Park in Brownsville, where the border wall cuts between the Gateway International Bridge that leads to Matamoros, Mexico.
Camilo Perez-Bustillo said this journey “will be tying the threads of what we began.” He is the executive director of the National Lawyer’s Guild in San Francisco.
Bustillo was part of the Witness at the Border group that came to Brownsville in 2019 and camped out in Xeriscape Park to protest the then “Remain in Mexico” policy that was started under the Trump administration.
The pandemic cut short their plans after just six weeks, but he says he is happy to again take up the cause. He will be going with the group to Uvalde, Texas.
6:30 a.m. CDT:
BOCA CHICA BEACH, Texas — A thick fog covered the Gulf of Mexico as the sun tried to peek out over the horizon. On the beach were two dozen people who came to watch the sunrise and to celebrate the dawning of their first day of a 2,000-mile journey along the Southwest border from South Texas to southern California.
They read a poem about a toddler and her father who died trying to cross the Rio Grande from Matamoros, Mexico, into Brownsville, Texas in 2019. They shared incense and hugs.
They held signs and put the salty water from the Gulf on their faces to bless them as they embarked on a 16-day journey to another sea — the Pacific Ocean in southern California.
“The bones of our ancestors are buried here and across the Rio from here,” Jesse Mancias, a member of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas told them.
He came to greet the group and welcomed him to what he calls “their lands.” He said the nearby industrialization — with SpaceX’s towering spaceships just yards away, and a border wall not too far away — is what he calls a “destruction” of their lands. But he told Border Report it brought him joy to see so many come from so far away to participate in the Journey for Justice.
“It feels like we are not alone,” Mancias said. “To see so many people who are ready to make this sacrifice. And sacrificing is the Indian way.”
Fran Fuller came from Des Moines, Iowa, to participate. She said the morning “was emotional. It’s a good way to start the journey.”
Friday, Dec. 2, 2022
7 p.m. CDT:
BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The “Journey for Justice” border tour began Friday evening with a light show at Xeriscape Park, across from the Gateway International Bridge, which connects Brownsville to Matamoros, Mexico.
Members of the grassroots group Witness at the Border are projecting pro-immigrant messages onto the roof of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s secondary inspection facility at the bridge, as well as the wall of the CBP facility where pedestrians come through as they walk over from Mexico.
(Sandra Sanchez/Border Report Photos)
“We’re powerless except for one thing. One thing: and that is to raise our voices and that’s what we’re doing down here. We’re going to see what’s going on out there and we’re going to tell people what’s going on out there so they know what that policy is doing to them. And they also will learn what their policy is doing to us,” caravan organizer Joshua Rubin, founder of Witness at the Border, told Border Report.
“This is exciting,” said onlooker Brenda Garza, a volunteer with the nonprofit organization Team Brownsville, which helps migrants. “I wish I was going all the way to California.”
Garza has a trip to Mexico and can’t make the entire journey.
Rubin says dozens of people — between 30 and 40 — are expected to join at various legs of the journey. Participants don’t have to make the entire 16-day trip.
Border Report is following the caravan and will update this blog in the upcoming days.