Fatal Funnel Finale: Special night set for Welder Center

Gabe Semenza

Aug. 18, 2009 at 3:18 a.m.
Updated Aug. 19, 2009 at 3:19 a.m.

To mark the end of a 16-month immigration and border series, the Victoria Advocate invites you to a special event.

For one night, a sheriff, priest and internationally known journalist will share a stage and answer your questions about trafficking in the Crossroads.

The event "Fatal Funnel Finale," named for the newspaper's oft-controversial series, is an examination of illegal immigration and possible solutions.

Dr. Tim Hudson, University of Houston-Victoria president, will begin the night by debuting a song he wrote and produced. The song is based on the story of the 19 illegal immigrants found dead in Victoria on May 14, 2003. The song is set to video.

This special event also will detail the scope of the 16-month newspaper project - from trips to Mexican drug cartel hotbeds, stops throughout the Valley and back to the scene of the historic immigration tragedy near Victoria. A short film will look back at the work involved, the topics covered and the places visited.

A roundtable discussion will follow. Speakers include:

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor, who scoured his land for tragedy survivors in May 2003 and who now battles trafficking daily.

The Rev. Stan DeBoe, a Victoria priest who worked in Colombia during a brutal drug war. He was a congressional adviser for human rights issues such as human trafficking and immigration.

Macarena Hernandez, an acclaimed former Dallas Morning News and San Antonio Express-News immigration reporter and columnist. Hernandez also co-produced projects for PBS's "Frontline."

After the discussion, the audience will be invited to ask questions.

O'Connor, who dubbed the highways that lead from Victoria to Mexico the "Fatal Funnel," said this event offers residents a unique opportunity.

"This gives people a follow-up on the first newspaper presentation, the showing of the film 'Drug Wars: Silver or Lead,'" the sheriff said, noting the December event. "Drugs and immigration are all interconnected.

"During this event, we can give them the rest of the story. I regard the whole issue, the trafficking, as extremely important. It affects our lives. I encourage people to get involved. At the very least, they should come to this event and ask questions."



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