Director’s Message for Fall 2023
By ProBAR Director Laura Peña
Amid continued challenges and opportunities at the border, I am grateful to be able to pause and reflect on the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, a national celebration that runs from September 15 to October 15 annually. At ProBAR, nearly 95% percent of our staff identify as Latinx and about 70% grew up in our binational, culturally rich community in the Rio Grande Valley. We also celebrate that our Hispanic-majority team is diverse in a variety of ways: ethnic, racial, language, heritage, geography, age, sexual orientation and gender identity, and so many more distinctions create the beautiful fabric of ProBAR. This month at ProBAR, we celebrated with people wearing traditional attire celebrating their own heritage, played games of lotería, and gathered for sessions of mariachi karaoke.
We also recognize that many of the people we serve come from the Americas, a region that is home to Spanish-speaking communities with mixed racial heritage, but that also encompasses Indigenous and Native American communities, and Black communities with diverse roots in African, English, and French culture, among others. Whether we are advocating on behalf of indigenous children from Guatemala who speak one of the dozens of indigenous languages or Kreyole-speaking adult Haitians navigating the new asylum ban, we are cognizant that our clients from the Americas are diverse and unique. Every client comes from a country that has a special place in our shared global history. But despite the differences, we believe each person deserves the same fair and humane treatment as they navigate the immigration system and that the diversity immigrants bring to our country makes us strong.
ProBAR’s important work advocating on behalf of people and providing support and accompaniment during a difficult immigration process calls us to bring creativity and resilience to the fore each day. In addition to the strength present in our diversity, ProBAR’s team takes inspiration from the legacy of Latinx leaders as we encounter challenges along the way. In the words of civil rights icon Dolores Huerta: “Sí se puede!” rings true every day here at ProBAR, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month. Together, we believe we can achieve great things to improve the lives of all people, from all walks of life, and celebrate our shared commitment to dignity, respect, and equality.