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El Paso Democrats and UTEP College Democrats statement on President Heather Wilson 

Updated: May 29

El Paso Democrats and UTEP College Democrats are deeply disappointed with the highly partisan, anti-immigrant event allowed on campus and attended by President Heather Wilson 

El Paso, Texas: On Tuesday, Former Vice President Mike Pence and his 501c4 organization, Advancing American Freedom, held a not-well-publicized round table at the University of Texas at El Paso. The communications released by Pence and his organization about the event and his photo-op at the border wall demonstrate the highly partisan nature of the event.

Even more disappointing, UTEP administration was involved, including President Heather Wilson, who used our public university for partisan purposes.  

Chairman Michael Apodaca of the El Paso County Democratic Party states the following, "As a UTEP alumnus, this proves again that Dr. Heather Wilson, a former member of Donald Trump’s administration, and current Abbott-appointed President of my alma mater, does not represent our community, our values, or our students.

UTEP is home to many binational students, including Mexican nationals and immigrants. The former Vice-President was not in El Paso to seek solutions with local experts, but instead to exploit our community, attack President Biden and praise the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration. Let us not forget that El Paso was the community used by the Trump-Pence Administration to pilot the horrific family separation policy. And the Trump-Pence still owes the City of El Paso for $570,000 – an unpaid bill for police protection at a rally years ago."1

Victor Manjarrez, Jr, was a moderator of the Pence event. Manjarrez is the UTEP employee who provided a fellowship to Tony Barker, a former Border Patrol agent who left his post amid accusations of sexual improprieties, in order to make him “less risky” for future opportunities. 2,3,4

“This is yet another example of shameful news that continues to emerge from UTEP since Dr. Wilson joined the University. She has proven to be out of step with our university population and our community. From her record of voting against the LGBTQ community as a New Mexico member of Congress, to this affront to a vibrant, binational border community. It is my opinion that Dr. Wilson should resign," said Apodaca.

Members of the UTEP College Democrats further expressed their disappointment by saying, "Many of our students endure long journeys to attain the valuable education UTEP provides. As an organization, we stand firmly with the immigrant community, who seek bright futures and opportunities. We reject the false narrative that El Paso's border is a dangerous place.

We are deeply disappointed in the UTEP faculty and staff who welcomed former Vice President Mike Pence and his Advancing American Freedom Foundation. El Paso boasts numerous support systems that assist immigrants who aspire to develop themselves and their families. Fostering an environment where immigrants can feel at home, maintain their cultural practices, and integrate into American society is essential.

Countless immigrants in El Paso have achieved remarkable success, serving as role models and demonstrating immigrants' positive impact on our community. Institutions like UTEP play a pivotal role in providing educational opportunities for immigrants and their families, with programs specifically designed to help immigrants and first-generation college students succeed."

El Paso deserves better, and our community and UTEP students will continue to hold President Wilson accountable for this and other failures during her tenure.


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