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Border Angels Dinner Honors Pro-Imigrant Leaders

November 5, 2017

By Mario A. Cortez

Immigrant-rights group Border Angels celebrated its 31st anniversary celebration dinner this past Saturday, November 4 at Southeast San Diego’s Jacobs Center.

During the dinner, the organization commemorated the work that the organization has done in the span of the last 12 months and celebrated outstanding individuals who have made a positive impact in helping immigrant and humanitarian causes north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Michael Pancer, a San Diego-based attorney, was presented with the Roberto Martinez Lifetime Achievement Award for his legal work in benefit of migrant rights, vulnerable communities, and his long and outstanding legal trajectory.

Pancer is known for appearing before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1989 in the case of United States vs. Rene Martin Verdugo Urquidez, which determined that Fourth Amendment protections do not apply to searches and seizures by United States agents of property owned by a nonresident alien in a foreign country.

“We have so many friends who are outraged at the treatment of undocumented persons in this country,” remarked Pancer to the audience.

Mexican Ambassador to the United States Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez was awarded the Starfish Lifetime Achievement Award for his career in Mexican politics and for his efforts in maintaining diplomacy in the face of the Trump Administration’s antagonistic rhetoric towards Mexico and its citizens. The distinction was presented to Gutierrez Fernandez by Consul General of Mexico in San Diego, and fellow Mexican ambassador, Marcela Celorio.

“It has always been a privilege to serve as an ambassador to the United States but even more so now because there are very challenging times,” Gutierrez Fernandez said from the podium. “However we approach several of the positions of the federal administration, we have to remember that they do not reflect the majority of views of people in the United States.”

The Micaela Saucedo Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to former Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, who is currently campaigning for the governorship of California.

Villaraigosa has a history of activism and being progressive in immigration-related human rights issues. The former mayor recently released a campaign video in which he leaves water for immigrants in the desert along with Border Angels volunteers.

“In these historic times, we have to say ‘no more’ to the anti-Mexican and racist politics which say that we are criminals, they know it is a lie,” Villaraigosa declared. “Why did I begin a video with me bringing water to the border? Because I believe that in this State, we will mark a very different path from Washington, D.C., from Trump, and we will treat incoming workers like human beings.”

Updates on future plans to reopen the door on the current border wall between Imperial Beach and Playas de Tijuana, ongoing desert water drop efforts, and other community plans were also shared by Border Angels founder and director Enrique Morones from the stage. A clip from the short film “Undocumented” and a reading of excerpts from the play “Letters from the Wall” complemented the dinner program.

The event also served as a fundraiser, with proceeds from admission going to help Border Angels continue its mission of advocacy and providing life saving assistance to migrants in the desert. The event featured a silent auction and had a donation and merchandise table
as well.

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