Why You Should Listen to Valle de Sueños

Words by Abigail Vela

The Rio Grande Valley is constantly rifled with controversy through mainstream media, with reports centered on the border crisis, stating how “broken our border really is” without genuinely centering on the stories of the migrants affected day-by-day and the activists who fight for justice alongside them. Valle de Sueños aims to change the narrative. 


Valle de Sueños is a local, bilingual, eight-series podcast focused on the stories of activists and migrants who fought to end the inhumane treatment and dismantle the Matamoros encampment along our border. The encampment, better known as a tent city, was established under the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP). 


“I hope that Valle de Sueños inspires creative solutions to address the migration challenges at the border through a reimagined vision centered on humanity,” podcast host, attorney, and director of Beyond Borders Program, Laura Peña, shared in the official press release. Laura immerses listeners through the 10-day journey with compassion and a fire in her voice, recalling moments filled with equal parts hardship and hope.

3 Reasons You Should Watch It

Reason 1: Valle de Sueños Highlights Important Issues

The first episode highlights the Migrant Protection Protocol, which began under the Trump administration in February 2018 and continued through 2021. MPP forcibly returned 70,000 migrants to dangerous Mexican border cities and inhumane tent cities, where migrants lived in atrocious conditions awaiting the review of their asylum claims. Laura sets the scene on February 24, 2021, after a statement was released by the Department of Homeland Security to begin efforts “processing” or allowing entry into the US to residents of the Matamoros refugee encampment.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is the set of federal laws that govern immigration in the United States, which states “an official
may return a non-citizen to foreign territory contiguous to the United States,” which, Laura shares, is Mexico. She clarifies that there’s no need for the Trump administration to have had any worries over immigrants from Canada. Instead, the phrase “may return a non-citizen” became a reason for the Trump administration to target and deport Spanish-speaking non-citizens.


Title 42 was a Trump-era policy enacted in March 2020 meant to expel migrants for health concerns (COVID-19 being the case) without considering asylum. The Trump administration used this policy to disguise their intentions, rapidly expelling more than 2 million people. Title 42 was meant to be lifted on December 21, 2022, but continues to remain in place under the Biden administration as of December 27, 2022. 

Artwork for Valle de Sueños created by local artist Mónica Lugo G.

Reason 2: A Valley-Made Podcast

Valle de Sueños was co-created by RGV natives Laura Peña and Charlie Vela and is partly funded by Trucha.

Laura Peña is the host of Valle de Sueños. She is an attorney, activist, and former Obama appointee, experienced in immigrant justice and civil rights. Laura disavowed ICE in 2018 and returned to the RGV to help reunify families separated by the family separation crisis. Currently, she serves as the Director of the Beyond Borders Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Charlie Vela is the producer of Valle de Sueños. Charlie is a record producer, cultural historian, and multimedia artist in the RGV. He’s the co-director of the award-winning music documentary ‘As I Walk Through the Valley,’  co-creator of Futuro Conjunto, a multimedia sci-fi cast album, and in his alter-ego Fronterawave


Reason 3: Centers Migrants, Activists, and Humanitarian Efforts

“This story is one example of what can happen when there’s political will, international cooperation, and an engaged bi-national border community. As you listen to these stories, think about scaling this cocktail of priorities. Think about a vision for a better, more dignified, and welcoming border that centers humanity.” – Laura Peña




As you listen to the podcast, you will get an inside look as South Texas activists share their stories. A few activists mentioned in the first episode include:



Valle de Sueños launched on December 12th, 2022, releasing their second episode this year on January 6th, 2023. Follow Valle de Sueños to stay tuned for future updates. You can stream it on Podbean, Apple, Spotify, and Amazon Music!

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