sernaConsidering 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.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “The Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry Soon To Be Renamed the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry”

  1. Thank you for the kind words. Greg Vera is a co-founder and made vast contributions as well. There are so many that did the hard work behind the scenes. The community pitched in and supported us as well. Thank you Sen. Rodriguez, State Reps. Mary Gonzalez and Caesar Blanco and of course Congressman Hurd and Senator Coryn.

    This is so significant as Martin says. It show the US, we make many contributions to our nation and certainly instills a sense of pride of what one of her sons gave. An inspiration to all of us. This will be the second POE named after a person. The other being the first Hispanic governor of Arizona, Raul Castro.

    We are asking that the Mexican name their side of the POE after Mr Serna. They are very receptive to the idea. All of you can help by letting the Mexican consul know that this effort improve relations between the countries.

  2. Naming the POE after this honorably individual is right and fitting. Martin, your closed mind is getting annoying. You know that an open border lets in all kinds of people — the Manhattan Heights Rapist as well as Mr. Serna, 100 years ago. Your last four paragraphs politicize this renaming and you consequently dishonor Mr. Serna. The attention should be on him and his accomplishments, not on your dangerous support for open borders.

  3. Interestingly enough, Trump has gone on record as willing to consider a path to citizenship for illegal aliens with otherwise clean records who are willing to serve in our military. I think the issue that most of us have is giving the same path to citizenship to folks who are willing to hide in plain sight and expect to be treated the same as those who immigrated legally simply because they’ve managed to stay here in shadows for several years and have anchor babies. Military service would be a fair way to level that playing field.

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