MCALLEN, Texas (CNS) — Sister Norma Pimentel was “truly disappointed” after not being given an opportunity to speak during a roundtable discussion with President Donald Trump during his Jan. 10 visit to McAllen.
The president traveled to the Rio Grande Valley to make his case for a southern border wall and other security measures amid a partial government shutdown that began over funding for the wall.
Calling the president’s visit “quite an important moment,” Sr. Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in the Diocese of Brownsville, lamented that representatives of local agencies working with migrant people and local elected officials were not invited to speak during the discussion.
“I was looking forward to this roundtable discussion, but there was no discussion, unfortunately,” Sr. Pimentel told The Valley Catholic, newspaper of the Brownsville diocese. “There were certain people selected to speak, people who support the president’s agenda,” she added.
“We would like for President Trump to know who we are and what the reality is here on our border,” said Sr. Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus.
Trump arrived about 12:45 p.m. local time, along with Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House staff.
Supporters of Trump as well as protesters gathered on opposite sides of a street near the airport awaiting the president’s arrival.
Trump was taken to a nearby U.S. Border Patrol Station for what was billed as a roundtable discussion with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, local officials and key players of the immigration story such as Sr. Pimentel, who has spearheaded efforts to assist about more than 100,000 immigrants since June 2014.
When asked what she would have said to the president if she had been recognized, Sr. Pimentel said, “I would definitely say that I appreciate and understand the importance of border security and keeping our border safe – that’s so important. We must support our Border Patrol and their job to defend and protect our borders. We must know who enters our country.”
Sr. Pimentel noted she has a good working relationship with the U.S. Border Patrol and other government agencies.