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As the music video of "Souls from Victoria" played at the Welder Center, I got goose bumps from the power of the evening.

We had witnessed an honest and powerful discussion of what illegal immigration has done to our community and what we can do locally about this global issue. The song inspired by the deaths and our 16-month Fatal Funnel series felt like a fitting ending.

You can hear the song, written and sung by University of Houston-Victoria President Tim Hudson at the band's Web site, Many thanks to him and his Coastal Bend band for their contribution to the community conversation.

We also appreciate greatly the participation of our panelists, The Rev. Stan DeBoe, Victoria Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor and UHV professor Macarena Hernandez. They spoke eloquently and passionately about an incredibly complex and emotional issue.

The audience asked tough questions and contributed to the dialogue. Afterward, Macarena and I agreed the people there seemed to appreciate getting the space to talk about an issue too often dominated by the loud few.

I've attended quite a few events at the Welder Center and can't recall ever seeing such a diverse crowd there. I hope the Advocate can bring the entire community together to discuss many other important issues of the day.

I left the Welder Center with Coastal Bend's song reverberating in my mind:

Open up the gates (en el cielo)

give them water (siempre hay agua)

Call up the angels (en el cielo)

ask the saints to pray (siempre hay paz)

Open up the gates (en el cielo)

give them water (siempre hay agua)

Souls from Victoria, shouldn't have to wait (no esperar)

Almos de Victoria, entran today