PRESS BRIEFING RECAP: What's Really Going On in the Border Region

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Border Communities Go to D.C. to Tell Lawmakers What's Really Going On in the Border Region

Washington D.C. - Today, the Southern Border Communities Coalition held a telephonic briefing with residents from across the southern border who are in Washington D.C. this week to share what's really going on in the border region so that lawmakers can be better prepared to make informed decisions about our region. The visit comes as Congress considers spending billions of dollars in taxpayer money on a border wall, and hiring thousands of immigration officers at a time where apprehensions of unauthorized border crossers are at a near-record low.

 
All speakers are available for follow-up interviews.  If interested, please contact hiram@alliancesd.org.
 
Robert Uribe, Mayor of Douglas, AZ, said the following: 

"The City of Douglas is among the safest cities in all of Arizona, and one of the three main international gateways for our state. Yet our existing port of entry, named after Arizona's first and only Hispanic Governor, Raul Castro, has not had any significant investment in over 25 years. The facility is outdated, overburdened and leads to serious congestion problems on both sides of the border. Our community needs to continue to come together, both public and private sectors, to advance an agenda that promotes jobs, investment and tourism by improving our ports of entry, increasing coordination with our Mexican neighbors on economic development initiatives, and forging stronger partnerships with vested local and regional stakeholders. Douglas is poised for tremendous growth and becoming a beacon for investment and job creation. We need bridges not more walls to reach our full potential"

Rep. Angelica Rubio, New Mexico State Representative, said the following: 
 
"I am the youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants, who are also United States citizens, and who came and settled in southeastern New Mexico over sixty years ago. To listen to them describe their fears--fears they've never felt before--sends a cold shiver all over my body. Their fears are real. As someone who now governs a district that is already heavily militarized and whose constituents fear further militarization, I urge our congressional leaders to step up as champions for our communities and not support increased funding for so-called "border security."  Tell me what you value, because I'll show you what we're investing in. If we value people, then we should be investing in our communities, not in more border walls. We should be adequately funding education (New Mexico currently underfunds education by $350 million), strengthening our state and local economies, and building infrastructure to support long-term growth. If Congress has billions of dollars to spend in the border region, then I urge them to spend it where it's needed most. In our communities."
 
Chief Manuel Rodriguez, National City Police Department, in National City, CA, said the following:
 
"Effective policing depends on community trust, officer training, and meaningful accountability. The rapid buildup of federal border agents who may not have the same standard of training is a concern for all of our communities since insufficient training can lead to abuse, mistreatment, and the loss of life. As our national experience has taught us, when this happens, it reflects poorly on all law enforcement and further undermines the community trust that local law enforcement needs to keep our communities safe. In making decisions about border enforcement, national policymakers should prioritize community trust, training, and accountability. They should also align immigration and border enforcement standards with national policing standards that conform with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which is the foundation of all policing. This includes requiring officers and agents operating inside the United States to have, at a minimum, reasonable suspicion before they detain someone. This is the standard in local policing that ensures we uphold the rights of the community members we are charged with protecting."
 
Maria Cordero, Organizer with ACLU Texas, said the following: 
 
"Daily life is changing for the worse in my border community. My neighbors live in fear that a traffic infraction may turn into a deportation. Local police are being asked to enforce immigration laws and that violates the trust with the community. Now the president is proposing spending our taxpayer dollars on expensive and unnecessary walls. We already have walls. I live right next to one that divides our community. Our community is poor. More walls will not alleviate our poverty, pave our streets, or provide the public services we need. Walls are not the answer to anything."
 
 Christopher Wilson, Veteran and Associate Director of Alliance San Diego, in San Diego, CA, said the following: 

"I am a US citizen who believes strongly in the American ideals of freedom, liberty and justice for all. I believe so strongly that I served faithfully and honorably in the US Marines for 7 years. When called, I went to war to protect and defend those ideals, as well as the American way of life. Now I live in San Diego, a border city and there is heavy presence of CBP, ICE and other DHS agents in my community.  The idea that my constitutional rights can be suspended by these officers makes me bristle. Because of where I live, in the border region, my constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure, my right to remain silent and my rights to privacy can all be suspended without any legal or judicial process. I can be stopped on the street and detained without any suspicion of committing a crime. That doesn't sound like the country that I risked my life to defend. I'm traveling to Washington, DC once again. This time in my duty as a citizen to remind our government that it has a duty as well. It is the duty to ensure sufficient oversight of DHS agents and hold those who enforce our laws accountable to those same laws."
 
Mark Adams, Presbyterian Pastor and Coordinator of Frontera de Cristo in Douglas, AZ, said the following: 

"My faith teaches me as a Christian that we are called to work together across national boundaries and to address our common concerns as sisters and brothers equally created in the Divine image and not as adversaries.  Furthermore, we are called to resist the temptation to demonize or dehumanize any individual or group of individuals.  By building relationships and understanding across borders, those most affected by the current policies can unite to struggle for change that is beneficial to people on both sides of the border.  

We do not want our government to spend more money building walls of separation, which would not only be fiscally irresponsible but also counterproductive to strengthening the economic, cultural and social relationships that our community relies upon.  After 20 years of spending billions of dollars to "secure" the border between ports of entry, we want to see federal money spent to help develop infrastructure in our community that facilitates the safe and efficient flow of people through ports of entry and promotes better relationships with our neighbors to the south that will help our communities thrive."
 
About SBCC

The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.
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