Texas is no stranger to the issue of migration.

Long before the modern U.S.-Mexico border was established in 1853, our two nations have benefited from and grappled with the social and political effects of people migrating north and south; for seasonal work, commerce, fun, family, or in search of safety.

Yet the last two decades have been difficult for our borderlands. Government officials, especially in the last four years, have imposed hardline, anti-immigrant policies instead of seeking humanitarian solutions to the arrival of asylum seekers at our borders. And the exponential increase in militarized U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) presence, which includes Border Patrol, continues to cause long-term damage to both migrants and our border communities.

That’s why days like today, United Nations International Migrants Day, are so important. It’s a day to remind ourselves to always stand in support of humanity. Which side of history will our nation be on when we reflect on how we have treated migrants seeking protection at our border? Will we tell our children that we welcomed them? Or will we tell them about the thousands of migrant children separated from their parents, the wasteful border wall construction, and the dozens of precious lives lost to Border Patrol, including 20-year-old Claudia Gómez González?

As a lifelong border resident, I know firsthand that our communities are eager to be part of solutions that welcome migrants in need of refuge and replace excessive militarization with community investment. You can stand with us by acting now in honor of International Migrants Day.

Three Ways to Act on International Migrants Day:

1. Understand the challenges and give back.

Instead of acting humanely to welcome and protect migrants seeking refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump chose to implement inhumane anti-immigrant policies, inflicting trauma on people legally seeking asylum. Even with new leadership in 2021, the impact of Trump’s cruelty remains to be undone. Find out more on how to give back, including supporting the ACLU of Texas Border Rights Center and immigrants’ rights work.

2. Demand accountability from Customs and Border Protection.

Customs and Border Protection is the largest law enforcement agency in the country. Since 2001, CBP has had an exponential increase in their budget, which they have used to hire law enforcement officers who are rarely disciplined when they abuse their authority. Border Patrol agents routinely violate migrants’ and border residents’ rights, and in some tragic cases, take their lives. It’s time to demand accountability from CBP and Border Patrol for their abuses.

3. Share our Border Community Watchline with others.

One way the ACLU of Texas is holding Border Patrol accountable is through our Border Community Watchline. Anyone can safely report Border Patrol abuses, including when agents limit or block access to essential services such as hospitals and schools. The information provided to the watchline is secure, and we will use it to track trends and specific incidents to inform our advocacy efforts and possible legal action.

I hope you act today and continue being an activist for migrants and immigrants. Together we must protect the fundamental rights of all people and demand accountability from our state and federal government to make sure they uphold our values by treating migrants with dignity and respect.