Considering the ongoing national political discussion on immigration reform, the renaming of the Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry between Mexico and the United States is perhaps the most appropriate and timely thing to happen this election cycle. Rey Rivera, a frequent reader to my blog, alerted me to the passage of the bill to rename the border crossing point. Rivera has been one the main drivers behind the project to rename the international bridge. On September 21, 2016, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX23) jointly announced that the Senate unanimously passed the bill to rename the Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry to the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry.
On April 26, 1896, Marcelino Serna was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. At the age of twenty, Serna entered the United States through El Paso around 1916. In the US, Marcelino Serna worked on railroads and as a form worker in Colorado. In 1917, after the United States declared war on Germany, a group of men were detained by authorities in Colorado until their draft status could be verified. Serna was one of the men that had been detained. As a result, he volunteered to join the army.
Within weeks of joining the army, Serna was sent to England to join up with Company B, of the 355th Infantry of the 89th Division. The Division participated in some of the fiercest fighting of World War I. Upon his arrival in France, Serna’s official Army paperwork finally caught up to him and his Mexican nationality was revealed. Marcelino Serna was offered the opportunity to be discharged because of Mexican citizenship, but refused, instead preferring to fight along with his US “buddies.”
On September 12, 1918, Marcelino Serna charged a German machine gun emplacement and single-handedly capturing 24 Germans with grenades and his Enfield rifle. Serna also killed 26 German soldiers during the fight. For his heroism in capturing the German soldiers, Marcelino Serna was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award the United States can bestow upon a United States Army soldier.
Marcelino Serna was a Mexican citizen and an undocumented immigrant while he fought and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Serna was also awarded two Purple Hearts. General John Pershing awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Serna.
After the war, Marcelino Serna settled in El Paso, Texas and became a US citizen in 1924. Serna passed away on February 29, 1992 and is buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
The bill (H.R.5252) has now been adopted by both the House and the Senate and now awaits the signature of President Obama.
For those of you who have tuned into the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, you should note that both Cornyn and Hurd are Republicans. Although Cornyn is supporting Donald Trump, his support of Trump is lukewarm, at best.
Republican Will Hurd, in the midst of a race to keep his seat against Pete Gallego (D), has distanced himself from Trump’s politics during his campaign.
Now that the naming of the international point of entry between Mexico and the United States for an undocumented immigrant who proved his heroism for his adopted nation is waiting for the president’s signature, it likely makes it difficult for Donald Trump to continue his political rhetoric of Mexico sending its worst to the US.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Trump would even understand the significance of the whole event and the heroics of Marcelino Serna that allows Trump to espouse his distaste for Mexicans.