RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (FOX 26) - With international attention on what’s going on the Southwest border, particularly President Trump's zero tolerance policy and the separation of immigrant families, FOX 26 wanted to know what residents along the border think about what is going on.
Reporter Maria Salazar spoke to Latino Rio Grande Valley residents. They were all U.S. citizens but their views on the president's approach to immigration enforcement varied.
Sergio Sanchez hosts a conservative radio talk show in the Rio Grande Valley where he has spent all of his adult life. He is unwavering in his support for the Trump administration's policies and practices around immigration.
Sanchez says the President is just enforcing the law.
"He is the only one who’s been trying to do something and it is time to support him," Sanchez added.
Sanchez was born in McAllen but his family moved south of the Rio Grande River to Reynosa, Mexico when he a child.
He believes the zero tolerance policy is necessary and says family separation is a consequence of entering the country illegally.
"They decided to separate themselves," he said.
"I’m actually glad he signed an executive order to stop the separation of families," said Joacim Hernandez, President of Hidalgo County Young Republicans.
Hernandez also has mixed feelings about the zero tolerance policy, but he does like the president’s willingness to do something about immigration.
"I think he’s trying to find solutions which is better than saying you’re going to do something and not doing anything," he added.
Hernandez says when Trump announced his candidacy, Hernandez did not like Trump's rhetoric about Mexicans.
"I didn’t agree with it. I was never a supporter from day one during the primaries. And, after he got nominated, I decided to support the nominee and stick with the party," Hernandez explained.
Rogelio Nuñez, Executive Director of Proyecto Libertad, believes the zero tolerance policy and family separations are all part of the President’s political strategy.
"He’s got his base. He’s got to keep it hot. He knows that immigration is going to keep it hot," Nuñez told FOX 26.
Proyecto Libertad is a nonprofit that began as a response to first wave of Central American migration in the 1980s. The organization provides immigration legal services.
"I’ve got 50 clients that are Salvadoran and Honduran. When I work with them, I can feel their fear," Nuñez added.
He says international attention on the Valley comes and goes and so does the urge to help.
"It’s quieting down. It’s kind of waning down. But what about the rest of the problems we got," he said.
Emilia Alvarez is a high school teacher in McAllen. She joined a fasting and prayer chain to advocate for separated families to be reunited.
"They’re looking for life because it’s not sustainable in their home country," she said.
Alvarez and her parents became naturalized citizens earlier this year. He says they’ll be voting in in November.
"We’re not voting for people who are continuing to make policies that affect our lives every day and it makes it harder for us, for our friends, for our families. We’re not going to vote that way. We’re going to vote for change," Alvarez added.
What most can agree on: Congress needs to pass immigration reform.
"Everyone tries to blame or put the whole responsibility on the president but at this point it’s up to Congress," said Hernandez.
"By now we should have already figured out somethings in terms of how do we work with immigration issues," concluded Nuñez.