__We were elated to hear Amber Ortega, a Hia Ced and Tohono O’odham woman, was acquitted for protesting in 2020 the construction of the border wall near Quitobaquito Springs, successfully arguing that the border wall and its construction violated her religious and spiritual beliefs and practice. Bravo.
_Congratulations to SBCC steering committee member Norma Herrera for her new role at the ACLU of Texas.
_Immigration policy researchers should read this excellent compilation of field lessons and considerations on how to center race and structural racism in immigration policy research, published by the Urban Institute; to quote, “The normalization of racist anti-immigrant rhetoric, racial profiling and detention of Latino residents, an epidemic of anti-Asian violence, and manifestations of anti-Blackness, such as recent expulsions of Haitian asylum seekers, are consonant with the racist historical legacy of US immigration policy.”
_A big, fat “F.” On the first anniversary of the Biden administration, we’re going to give him a big, fat “F” on his report card for failing to meet our expectations and promising more than he could deliver. But, we’re also going to give moderate Democrats and Republicans a big, fat “F minus.” Why? For failing to work with the administration to make policy initiatives that a vast majority of Americans want to see happen, like providing a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people who deserve recognition for their courage, perseverance, and contributions to the strength of this country. These elected officials also get an “F minus” for not setting partisanship aside and for not even trying to do something to alleviate the suffering and disenfranchisement of mostly communities of color. Shame on you. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) provides this excellent side-by-side analysis of their recommended policy actions versus the administration’s actions. See also how some of our other honored colleagues are grading the president’s achievements in the last year.
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)
- Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
- We Are Home campaign
- ACLU’s report on Human Rights
_February is Black history month. And we urge the Biden administration to take full stock of how its policies have continued_and even exacerbated_anti-Black immigrant measures. There are many examples of this, like the failure to grant Temporary Protected Status to Cameroonians. Another egregious example is how, under the guise of public health, the administration has misused Title 42 to conduct mass expulsions and block Haitians and others from seeking asylum. As the COVID-19 pandemic spirals again, mass deportation flights present significant health and safety dangers to both migrants and people living in Haiti. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reports that 9 percent of the 21,805 individuals detained in immigration detention facilities have tested positive for the COVID-19 as of January 18, 2022. And according to interviews with Haitian officials who tested deported Haitians upon arrival from the United States, most of the 79 passengers on a January 18, 2022 flight tested positive. Wait, what? The administration is weaponizing a public health law (i.e., Title 42) to spread COVID to a country in the midst of historic devastation and political turmoil? Less than 1 percent of Haitians have been vaccinated, and the country’s health system is woefully inadequate to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases. Haiti requires that regardless of nationality or vaccination status, all passengers traveling to Haiti must take a COVID test and show documentation that they are COVID negative within 72 hours of arrival, yet the United States does not test migrants before deporting them. These deportation flights could substantially spread the pandemic to Haiti, endangering everyone on the nation island. How about that for the height of hypocrisy and the continued systemic racism against our Black brothers and sisters who are only seeking safety in a supposed generous nation. We can_and should_be better than this. #BlackImmigrantLivesMatter
_Unbe-wall-able. It’s absolutely bewildering, unbelievable and infuriating that the Biden administration may continue building the destructive, lethal and useless border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Billions of taxpayer dollars have already been misspent on this ridiculous Trumpian vanity project and we can’t help but think how this money could be_or could have been_better spent. So while the administration announced in December that they will engage in some border wall “remediation” efforts to “close gaps” and for “life and safety” reasons, their intent is patently clear to us. CBP is basically asking for input on their own inadequate and insufficient remediation plan, while covering up the fact that they are considering new wall construction by calling it something else (e.g., “levee reparations” or “closing gaps for safety reasons”). If you believe that, I have a wall to sell you in the swampy borderlands… When CBP started seeking community input in Arizona, due Feb. 3, they offered a storymap of their proposal for remediation efforts, but the only thing that is on the map is what they plan to do (mostly structurally). While we appreciate some items on their “to do” list_like erosion prevention measures_they fail to understand what is truly needed to ensure the protection of our endangered species. It reminds us of how SBCC steering committee member Verlon Jose of the Tohono O’odham nation described border wall construction as feeling like “someone got a knife and dragged it across my heart.” Worse yet, CBP relegated recommendations made by environmental and social groups (like habitat mitigation and restoration and cultural resource mitigation) to the last priority and only if they have enough funding left to do this. Think about it: why would closing the gaps, which could potentially allow a wildlife corridor, be part of the proposal? And why would gates need to be installed or finalized through streams and waterways when those in and of themselves are wildlife corridors? And why would they consider 8.5x11 cutouts on the bottom of border walls sufficient for wildlife passage. Maybe it’s enough for endangered turtles, toads and lizards, but certainly not enough for jaguars, ocelots, Sonoran pronghorn, and Mexican wolves (to name a few). Next, CBP made a heart-stopping announcement seeking input from Texans living in the Rio Grande Valley that suggests the agency may be still considering 30-foot walls and 150-foot easements in the Texas floodplain. (Seriously, how dumb and wasteful is that?) Honestly, it feels like theatrics and a faux process for community input. And it begs the question of whether or not Biden wants to become the next wall guy. That’s Wall Folks.
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.