9/11 Spiral

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_A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General investigation found that Border Patrol agents failed to check on Carlos Hernández Vásquez (¡presente!), a seriously ill Guatemalan teen, who died in CBP custody; agents lied about conducting hourly welfare checks on him; despite the conclusions of this investigation, no agent is being held accountable for his tragic death.

_SBCC steering committee member Gabriela Rodriguez Clark of the Southern Arizona network expresses (in Spanish) a profound concern that a Border Patrol agent can shoot a woman, Marisol Garcia Alcantara_in the face for what appears to be a traffic violation with seemingly zero consequences (second story also quotes SBCC steering committee member Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego).

_We are encouraged to learn that a federal judge for the U.S. Southern District of California ruled unconstitutional the practice of “metering” _ i.e., the tactic of turning away people seeking safety at the U.S. land ports of entry and forcing them to wait in Mexico on an often unofficial waitlist for months or more (story quotes SBCC co-chair Alba Jaramillo of Arizona Justice for Our Neighbor). 

_We welcome this excellent ruling by a federal judge that blocks the misuse of Title 42 (effective in two weeks), which denied due process for families seeking safety in the United States and instead rapidly expelled them back into violence in Mexico or in the countries they originally fled; our nation has the ability, resources and capacity to process people seeking safety at our borders in a humane, efficient and orderly way. 

_SBCC steering committee member Roberto Lopez of the Texas   Civil Rights Project explains that Biden’s so-called “levee repairs” made in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are, in fact, an extension of Trump’s lethal border wall construction. 

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_9/11 spiral. Last weekend we observed the 20th anniversary of 9/11, reflected on the heroism of many, and solemnly remembered the tragic deaths of almost 3,000 people in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the tens of thousands of others who died in the “War on Terror” that ensued. Most of us recall that day vividly and its aftermath, as SBCC steering committee member Johana Bencomo of Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) notes. It also bears mentioning that this tragic day marked a downward spiral that ultimately has eroded our basic rights and fueled new anti-immigrant policies built on a foundation of white supremacy, racism, xenophobia, “othering,” and fear. In the last two decades, and under the pretext of “securing” our nation, we’ve hyper-militarized U.S. communities and deployed those strategies abroad to the tune of $21 trillion of taxpayer dollars, which has, in practice, made us feel less safe. By over-prioritizing law enforcement, we created a ever-devouring monster that was further fueled by more police, more jails, more prisons, more immigration and border officials, more punitive tactics (e.g., Border Patrol’s “prevention through deterrence” strategy) that not only targeted people of color but also established a tenacious job creation model that over-relied on policing and “security.” Now is the time to step back and shift priorities away from continued militarization and towards investing in programs that will strengthen the vibrancy and resilience of our communities. Think about it. Every year, we squander $24 billion in immigration and border enforcement. Here is where we could have invested that money instead. We can do this. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize

_Guv’ment dinero. Speaking of dinero, as negotiations over debt limits and budget reconciliation continue ad infinitum, Congress is facing the end of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget on September 30. We’re expecting Congress to vote as early as Monday on a Continuing Resolution (CR), which will continue federal spending levels from FY2021 into FY2022 for the short-term. For this CR, the White House sent Congress a list of “anomalies” which are requests for increased funding levels for specific programs that are different from the prior year’s funding to fill an anticipated gap. We are surprised and disappointed to see the list include an unnecessary increase in spending on immigration detention and removals above the Fiscal Year 2021 levels and a super vaguely worded request for increased flexibility in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) border spending. We joined more than 150 organizations urging Congress to reject the anomaly for ICE detention and removal spending, and cautioning against providing additional flexibility for CBP spending that could be channeled for further border militarization and enforcement - or even for dog food and dirt bikes. The letter asks Congress to stop CBP’s and ICE’s unaccountable runaway spending on its abusive detention system and to protect southern border communities against further unaccountable militarization. Plainly speaking, we need to #RevitalizeNotMilitarize and we need a #NewBorderVision.

_Climate hell. Climate change is forcing people to flee their homes and, combined with Border Patrol’s so-called “prevention through deterrence” tactics, it is also making a humanitarian and a hellish crisis at the U.S. southern border much, much worse. In one tragic example that occurred in late August, Border Patrol agents found a two-year-old boy alive next to the bodies of his mother and 10-year old sister in the desert west of Yuma, Arizona. The county medical examiner determined that their deaths were heat-related because the high temperature of the day was 119 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why we joined nearly 70 organizations to urge the Biden administration and the Department of Homeland Security to revisit its approach to those arriving to the border to take climate change into account, including urgent action to prevent suffering and more deaths. (Press statement quotes SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee and Yours Truly)

_Abbott & Trumpello. The tragic (not comic) duo of Abbott & Trumpello are creating a Texas-size horror show in response to a large group of migrants_many reportedly Haitians seeking safety_at the Del Rio port of entry. In the true (ugly) spirit of Trumpello, Texas Gov. Abbott ordered Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard to assist CBP in closing six port of entries in South Texas. CBP responded that they had not requested the assistance. Then Gov. Abbott back pedaled on claiming it was in response to a CBP request, but still sent the Texas troopers and National Guard anyway. But is this just for show? Haven’t these ports of entry been closed to non-essential travelers since forever due to COVID? This political rhetoric is also meant to inspire fear in Texan voters of the thousands of immigrants who are arriving at our southern border who are simply seeking help and safety. This OpEd says it best, “The truth is America may choose to close itself to the world, but it ignores the plight of humanity outside its boundaries to its own peril. Sooner or later we, in America, pay for our deliberate ignorance to human suffering.” We are better than this, no?


border_lines is published every other Friday for your reading pleasure. If you’d like to submit an item for inclusion, please email Vicki B. Gaubeca at [email protected], by Wednesday COB. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


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