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San Antonio groups oppose Border Security Expo

San Antonio Express News logo San Antonio Express News 3/4/2020 By Silvia Foster-Frau, Staff writer

A coalition of local groups is asking the city to stop hosting the Border Security Expo at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center every year.

About a dozen protesters from different groups — including the Southwest Workers’ Union, RAICES and the Brown Berets — attended their third City Council late Wednesday to oppose the event.

“It’s a contradiction that we have this repressive arm of immigration enforcement hosting a convention here within a city that’s supposed to be a compassionate city,” said Govanni Reyes, a member of About Face: Veterans against the War.

The groups plan to rally outside the convention center next Wednesday, the expo’s first day. The groups also have asked in an open letter for the city to stop hosting the event. It’s unclear what the legal implications would be if the city broke the contract.

The conference draws federal contractors from across the country who set up exhibits of their latest border technology - from cutting-edge firearms to drones with migrant-sensing detectors.

The opening keynote on Wednesday will be delivered by Robert Perez, deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The closing event is on a shooting range: “This is your chance to get up-close and hands-on with the latest fire range products and technologies,” the security expo advertises on its website.

The opposition groups argued the convention represents a “immigration-industrial complex” where the government and its contractors make money off of harming immigrants.

They said the council hasn’t responded to the open letter they sent.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg had no comment.

A petition against the Border Security Expo was posted on MoveOn’s website and has garnered more than 360 signatures.

“I’m concerned that it’s being held in the Henry B. Gonzalez Center when he was one of the politicians that fought the hardest for immigrant rights and for Latino and Hispanic people here in San Antonio,” said Debbie Hernandez, of the nonprofit RAICES. It’s “a giant, white supremacist’s slap in the face.”

The event is run mostly by former Homeland Security officials, some who now have high-powered jobs in the private sector. It’s fifth time it has been been held in San Antonio. | Twitter: @SilviaElenaFF


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