Eric Stoltz Is Determined To Bring El Paso Voices Back To City Hall.
by Eric Stoltz
July 18, 2018
This interivew with Eric Stoltz, a young native El Pasoan running for City Council in District 6, was conducted and condensed by frank news.
Eric Stoltz: My name is Eric Stoltz, I grew up in the Lower Valley in El Paso, raised there for my whole life, lived in the same place for 25 years. It's the outskirts of El Paso and it's a farm ranch area.
Tatti: What is the population like there?
Eric Stoltz: Very Spanish-speaking. El Paso is probably 80% Hispanic, but I think my areas about 93%. English is spoken but Spanish is a lot more common where I live.
Tatti: How does immigration policy affect your daily life?
Eric Stoltz: It's affected me with my neighbors, family, friends that I've known for a long time. I've had friends that had their parents deported when they were young. Even today I have a really close friend whose dad was deported. I think I've seen immigration in a complete context of people that were able to get papers or were able to get citizenship or residency, but then also saw people that had to live secretly and live in the shadows. My grandma actually owned a trailer park and a lot of her residents were people that didn't have documents, so she made sure they felt comfortable and that they knew she was okay with people that didn't have documents to live openly and live without fear.
When we talk about immigration people talk about border security. I think border security brings a militarized presence anywhere you go. Even if I am documented and I have papers I feel a little bit uncomfortable having to deal with being watched, you have a bunch of helicopters disturbing you. People also have an idea that immigration is like jumping over a border when in reality it's also people getting visas and crossing back and forth.
There's a lot of people from El Paso that work in El Paso and live in Juarez because of the cost of living. A lot of people go to school back and forth. The strict hard policy doesn't make sense, especially to someone living on the border, because you see that it's just one large city and one large interconnected area rather than a hard invisible line that people want to invent.
Tatti: Is there a tangible difference between presidents and policy?
Eric Stoltz: Not so much, not during my time. My parents saw a big difference with the building of the current wall.
Tatti: When was that?
Eric Stoltz: That was in 1996 I think, that was when they had Operation Hold The Line, when they put more Border Patrol in the cities and drove immigrants out to the desert, which made it more dangerous for people. Then they built the wall, which I think actually was in 2000. That was the only time I experienced something different like, whoa we had fences and now we have a wall. I was younger so I didn't really understand what it was or what the meaning of it was. Nothing is really different than from Obama and Bush to me in the presence of Border Patrol because you just see them everywhere, I'm just so used to seeing them everywhere. Not much has changed aside from like rhetoric and hateful things being said towards immigrants.
Tatti: Do you think it’s right to focus anger on this administration or do you think that negates years of other similar policy?
Eric Stoltz: I think that while Trump has terrible rhetoric and obviously he has no idea what he's talking about I think that it does go a lot further and back into past presidencies and the real root reason of issues that are happening.
Democrats had full control of Congress and they still didn't move to make sure immigrants were protected.
It does go back further and I think that right now Trump is taking it to an extreme level and actually an even scarier level where he allows law enforcement to basically spread fear around our community. That's something that we haven't seen, a more fearful area, a more fearful time. I know people whose parents are very scared. But it does go back to years and years of neglect on immigration issues, but also ignoring the reasons why people are leaving their countries.
Tatti: What do you want to ask elected officials, in positions of power in Texas, about immigration?
Eric Stoltz: I would have two separate questions. One, do they support allowing all families to be together, would they continue to support a family migration and allow a quicker process for family migration.I have friends whose parents have been waiting for 12 years, 15 years. And I think when you don't have the ability to be with your family for 15 years it is contrary to a family value system for many. The second question of course would be the root of everything, can they ensure us that the United States is no longer in the game of toppling socialist or left-wing governments that are democratically elected.
Tatti: The argument we keep hearing is if you break the law as an American you’re sent to jail, why would it be any different for non Americans?
Putting Americans first is something we hear a lot. To me that's an idea that says people are less than because they're not citizens. We are first and foremost humans. But that has even divided people.
But to me, at the end of the day, we're all humans regardless of your ethnicity or citizenship. When you take humanity away from people, that’s when you start to lose a part of your humanity. When you look at El Paso, we are a city that has immigrants undocumented and with documents and we live a great life. We live as a community, we live as one, and we benefit from each other. We are not a crutch on each other, we are united as one and we progress with each other. I think that people don't understand and don't see people in their communities because every community has immigrants. They might not know, but I think when people start understanding that their neighbors, that their co-workers, that business owners are undocumented people and that they are also benefiting our economy and giving jobs and helping our country in a profound way, people will actually see and understand that immigration and undocumented people are not an enemy.
They are helping people, and they are helping U.S. citizens. A lot of people think that undocumented people don't pay taxes, undocumented people pay taxes and it goes straight to the government, and they don't receive that back. We need to think of everything as humanity before we get into ideas of citizenship.
When it comes to the law, immigration is a civil penalty, it's not a criminal penalty. It hasn't been for a very long time. Immigration is not a singular issue of breaking the law.
Why do people leave their countries to begin with? I wouldn't want to leave my country but if I felt I had to, look, the law is not going to stop somebody. And at the moment, people are seeking legal asylum and being denied legal asylum at the border and are forced to go through other means which are illegal to get to the United States. There are people in this country that live 300 miles from the border who have never seen it, never visited it. They need to observe and actually learn from people at the border and ask us what we see and what our daily life is. I wouldn’t tell someone who lives by the ocean that I know everything about the currents when I’ve never been to an ocean before.
You can't tell someone from the border how the border works. We know how it works, we live here, and we see it every day.
Tatti: How do you think the media has handled the immigration issue in the last couple of weeks?
Eric Stoltz: I'm happy that they’re a little more concerned about border issues and immigration issues. I do wish that they talked about it year round and really went in depth on these particular issues. When we have a population of the U.S. that is completely anti media I think that you, as the media, need to show the facts and use recent evidence about what’s happening, video and audio and images that are recent, from right now, because you have a whole segment of people demonizing the media, who don't believe the media. If you use an image that's two years old people are going to say that you’re lying.