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On the Rio Grande Lyrics ~

Deborah Anne Fisher Copyright 2017                🎶Please Scroll to bottom for Musicians Credits🎶

 

They walked along, the Rio Grande 

In the fall, in the mud and trash 

the open wall, gave them a chance 

To unite with family on the Rio Grande 

One of the couples 13 years ago, 

was deported, back to Mexico 

Oh their children, how they missed them so 

& they walked in hope, on the Rio Grande 

Chorus: 
On the Rio Grande, the dried up riverbed 

For a little chance, oh the tears they shed 

The spirit man, it was love that led 

& now here they stand, on the Rio Grande 

(2nd) & now they ran across the Rio Grande 

200 families, gathered there 

for three minutes, well aware 

they embraced in joy, because they dared 

to seize the moment on the Rio Grande 

you can draw a line, in the sand 

with the law, of the land 

but it’s not that simple, with love in your hand 

& they seek to find, at the Rio Grand 

Repeat Chorus 

One side wore white, the other blue 

So Border patrol, knew who was who 

Soon the time was up, they put back the fence 

But on the Rio Grande, the Blessing went home with them 

then they walked on home, along the Rio Grande 

In the dried up riverbed, in the mud and trash 

for the open wall, gave them a chance 

to hug their family, on the Rio Grande 

And the Blessing went home with them,, on the Rio Grande 

And the Blessing goes home with them, on the Rio Grande. 

And the Blessing is home with them, on the Rio Grande.

For more info on Border Network for Human Rights:
http://bnhr.org/ 

To hear more of Deborah's Music, visit the Store!

Bnhr's Official Video from the 3rd "Hugs Not Walls Event":

You can hear a little bit of me singing at the end!!!

Why are families separated? 

On March 16, 2017 I had a phone interview with Professor Josiah Heyman, UTEP Border Studies (University of Texas El Paso) to help answer the question: Why the separation of families? Here’s what he had to say. 

Along the Rio Grande, people were connected for centuries and were able to pass freely back and forth. Change began in the 1910’s & 1920’s when Mexicans needed a Visa to come to the US. Even then, people were free to go back and forth in the South Western part of Mexico without special permission. 

In 1942 the Bracero Program began. Bracero means arms, referring to ‘arms of labor’. The Bracero Program was a non-immigrant, highly controlled, very exploitative but also still legal and open temporary labor program between Mexico and US. The Bracero Program was ended in 1964 by the US. The reason most of the people crossed the border - as few of them had families in the US - they didn’t have visa’s to live permanently. They were coming to the US to work and earn money. 

In 1965, the US increased access to legal immigration, but it did not cover sufficiently the pent-up demand from Mexico. Those same people that still needed that work depended on that income, and had relationships in the US. “It wasn’t like they were just doing this on their own. They had connections to employers and connections to areas in the west where they knew there were opportunities and so they just started to come crossing whether or not they had documents. So the beginning of undocumented immigration is the most important moment starting up to the edited documentation of legal temporary residents.” “Legalized migration happened in 1965, we know that because we collected their personal histories such as race, but changed their status to 'documented.'" 

“In 1986, the US passed IRCA. Its most important feature is that it targeted legalized people which were either coming back and forth or already living in the US, outing legalized immigrants. And that’s important because, that occurred 30 years ago and that means there has been an accumulation for various reasons of people who have never had the opportunity to go back and forth.” 

“This is not a tremendous army of people, it’s about 3% of the population of 300 million that were stuck in the US who can’t go back and forth. That means there had been 30 years.” 

Then in 1993 right at the El Paso border, a program-specific tactic was introduced, and in 1994 it spread to California in south San Diego County, and then later to Arizona and then to Copal, TX, called Operation Blockade. Border police were placed right on the front line and kept people form crossing to be with their families or going to work in easy safe places. Operation Blockade killed people by driving them into the desert to cross, which was much more dangerous. 

The government knew, and expressed the strategy that geographic danger existed. It was necessary to try and block their crossing, which didn’t succeed - it just killed people. It also made a lot of money for human smugglers. 

Eventually, people stopped going back and forth as often. "Circular" migrants might go to work in a restaurant in Phoenix or Chicago, but their family could stay in Mexico. They could easily go back and forth if an elderly relative was sick, or to visit their parents and children. Families were relatively together. However over time, it became much more risky, expensive, and dangerous to cross the border, so they began to stay on the US side or Mexican side. 

That explains the “Hugs No Walls” event. 

People are excited to reunite at the border, because if they’re in the US but they’re undocumented, they can’t afford the risk of going to see their family members in Mexico, because they may never get back. If they have children, perhaps children born in the US, parents can’t go see their grandchildren, because parents who would be taking them to visit over the border, can’t go back and forth without being arrested. 

The US policy that was established in 1993 has trapped millions of people in the US, and prevented them from seeing their families. 

Migration often focuses on work and economics, but there is another aspect. People migrate for love. Romantic or family member love, they have strong feelings of connection and bonds to other family members. Our immigration policy does not provide an adequate number of Visas for these people for work or love. 

Lethal force shouldn’t be used unless you or another person was in life-threatening danger. This death was a failure on the border patrol and inspired a group of El Paso lawyers to create bnhr.org some 15 years ago. 

Thanks to the Border Network for Human Rights organization, families are being united, and receiving legal support. Visit www.Bnhr.org for more information. 

Thank you to bnhr.org members: President Fernando Garcia, and Communications Director Gabriela Casteaneda for inviting me to sing this song on the border at your third “Hugs Not Walls” event, allowing me to take footage and create this video for public awareness. Also, thanks to Josiah Heyman for this interview and his son Robert Heyman who works for bnhr.org for his help at the event.

 

Sullivan County Democrat Friday January 27, 2016 by Autumn Schanil ~
They have three minutes. Three minutes to find each other, hug each other, cry and look upon a face that they may not have seen in 15 years. The "Hugs Not Walls" event, started by the Border Network for Human Rights organization, opens the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso, Texas to allow families to reunite for just a few brief moments. Songwriter and artist Debbie Fisher Palmarini of Liberty, was so moved by the Hugs Not Walls event that she decided to write a song about it called "On the Rio Grande." "As a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin... I just can't imagine having to be separated from my family and going through something like what these people go through," said Palmarini. "I always think about where I came from and lot of us in the United States, we're all immigrants in one way or another. When I started writing this song I wanted to do as much research as I could. I wanted to make sure that everything was right." Palmarini said that when she does enough research on a subject that's she's really passionate about, the song essentially writes itself. "I'm not just making up things," she said. "Really what I'm doing is organizing my research into patterns and putting it out there.." She then decided to record it with the help of her three person band "Joshua Tree," and send it to the Border Network for Human Rights. Palmarini's song describes the families, what the border is like and how heartbreaking but uplifting three minutes can be. The organization liked the song so much that they asked Palmarini to fly to El Paso and perform the song live, tomorrow, Saturday, January 28. Palmarini couldn't believe it when she go the message. "I thought wow, this is really going to happen," Palmarini said smiling. Thanks to close friends and family like David Rosenberg and Steve Schwartz, Palmarini was able to raise the funds to buy her plane fare. "It's a big problem on the Mexican border and my priest at my church, St. Peter's in Liberty, who is now retired once said that every piece of of fruit or vegetable that we ate our entire life, came from an immigrant's hands," she said, holding her hands in front of her as she recalled the memory. "That it was planted, grown and picked on a farm by an immigrant. It really puts it into perspective how they came in, how they worked the fields without labor laws to protect them... there are so many issues that surround them. 

"I think it's important to put songs like this out in the world, to help people understand situations." 
Palmarini added.
 
"You can hear a song and hear everything in a song, and educate yourself."

Sullivan County Democrat Friday January 27, 2016 by Autumn Schanil ~ They have three minutes. Three minutes to find each other, hug each other, cry and look upon a face that they may not have seen in 15 years. The "Hugs Not Walls" event, started by the Border Network for Human Rights organization, opens the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso, Texas to allow families to reunite for just a few brief moments. Songwriter and artist Debbie Fisher Palmarini of Liberty, was so moved by the Hugs Not Walls event that she decided to write a song about it called "On the Rio Grande." "As a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin... I just can't imagine having to be separated from my family and going through something like what these people go through," said Palmarini. "I always think about where I came from and lot of us in the United States, we're all immigrants in one way or another. When I started writing this song I wanted to do as much research as I could. I wanted to make sure that everything was right." Palmarini said that when she does enough research on a subject that's she's really passionate about, the song essentially writes itself. "I'm not just making up things," she said. "Really what I'm doing is organizing my research into patterns and putting it out there.." She then decided to record it with the help of her three person band "Joshua Tree," and send it to the Border Network for Human Rights. Palmarini's song describes the families, what the border is like and how heartbreaking but uplifting three minutes can be. The organization liked the song so much that they asked Palmarini to fly to El Paso and perform the song live, tomorrow, Saturday, January 28. Palmarini couldn't believe it when she go the message. "I thought wow, this is really going to happen," Palmarini said smiling. Thanks to close friends and family like David Rosenberg and Steve Schwartz, Palmarini was able to raise the funds to buy her plane fare. "It's a big problem on the Mexican border and my priest at my church, St. Peter's in Liberty, who is now retired once said that every piece of of fruit or vegetable that we ate our entire life, came from an immigrant's hands," she said, holding her hands in front of her as she recalled the memory. "That it was planted, grown and picked on a farm by an immigrant. It really puts it into perspective how they came in, how they worked the fields without labor laws to protect them... there are so many issues that surround them.

"I think it's important to put songs like this out in the world, to help people understand situations." Palmarini added.

"You can hear a song and hear everything in a song, and educate yourself."

Exclusive Live footage 1/28/2016 of Deborah singing her song as a backdrop to the third "Hugs Not Walls" event in which 350 families hugged for 3 minutes, in 35 successive groups from 9am-3pm. Human rights organization, Bnhr.org has been helping unite families who were separated some 10-50 years due to Border & deportation issues. 
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Musicians on the Studio Version:
Steve Schwartz: Guitar ~ StevesMusicCenter.net
Ken Windheim: Bass
Mike Cervone: Percussion
Dana Gabrielsen: Keyboard
Greg Fiske: Hard Drive Recordings/Engineer

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