A Kinder, Gentler Nation? - December 7, 2018 - border_lines

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_On Dec. 6, SBCC ally Cynthia Pompa from the ACLU Border Rights Center traveled to Washington, DC, to provide testimony against further border militarization at a hearing by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

_A new report shows that the total number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States is the lowest in a decade, according to the Pew Research Center.

_Yet again, a Border Patrol agent has not been held accountable for what_in this instance_seems to be an unjustified case of deliberate and lethal use of force.

_This frank opinion from a former Border Patrol agent provides a true narrative about our borderlands that further takes to task the exculpation of Border Patrol agents, like Lonnie Swartz, for excessive and lethal uses of force.


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_A Kinder, Gentler Nation? In August 1988, George H. W. Bush called for a “kinder, gentler nation” in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. We were reminded of these words during the eulogies and press coverage this week of his passing and couldn’t help but wonder what those words would mean in today’s political climate. These words felt particularly striking when we learned that bulldozers are getting ready to plow through land owned by the National Butterfly Center near the Rio Grande river to make room for Trump’s wasteful and harmful wall_despite the fact that doing so waves 28 laws put in place to protect the public from government overreach. Other natural treasures put at risk by this ridiculous wall include the Salineño Wildlife Sanctuary, Estero Llano Grande State Park, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park_a popular spot for birders and campers. These protected sites boost the local economies by generating nearly $350 million in ecotourism dollars a year.  Would a kinder, gentler nation deprive these low-income neighborhoods in Texas from their way of living?

_Piecemeal approach. Congress passed a two-week extension to the Fiscal Year 2019 funding deadline, which now ends Dec. 21 (versus Dec. 7). House Minority Leader Pelosi noted that House Democrats aim to get Congress to pass a full budget for six of the seven outstanding spending budgets (the other five were passed in time last September). She also noted that they are aiming to get a continuing resolution that will punt the negotiations for the final_and more controversial_spending bill on homeland security_including for the border wall until the new congress is in place. Next Tuesday, House and Senate leadership will meet with President Trump to go over these spending negotiations. Let’s hope the minority leadership breaks away from a standard modus operandi, finds courage from the midterm election results and stands strong against border wall funding.

_A gentler, kinder border? Closing the border ports of entry so CBP can engage in so-called “readiness exercises”_which have all the appearance of martial law_at Otay Mesa, San Luis, Tecate, Nogales and El Paso (to name a few) adds to the perception that the United States has become a harsher, more unkind nation. SBCC co-chair Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego warned against Trump’s harsh and unkind practices against border communities by noting that we are “one community, with one heart.” An easy example of how we rely on each other was when the San Ysidro port of entry was recently, and inexplicably, closed for five hours: it cost local businesses $5.3 million during a key holiday shopping weekend. All border communities along the U.S.-Mexico border not only have families and friends on both sides, but rely on closely intertwined economies. Yet, in the last two decades we have endured hyper-militarization and the erosion of our human and civil rights, not  only to great detriment of the 15 million people that live in the borderlands, but to the image we project to our valuable trade partners and the world. What will it be, peeps? Remind us again, what do we want to stand for?

_Ongoing battle of semantics. Elected officials should know that folks can see through the doublespeak that even “friendlies” use when describing whether or not they support Trump’s vanity wall. Read our lips: per SBCC ally Scott Nicol of Sierra Club, there is NO difference between bollard fencing, replacement fencing, levee walls, or concrete walls when it comes to the negative effects these physical structures represent to our environment, our private or public lands, and our wildlife. We agree. So, stop pretending you don’t support Trump’s wall by saying you only support fencing. And while you’re thinking about that, check out this interesting twist on wall funding, which is not completely surprising coming from a well-known rule-breaker.

_SMH. It’s hard to find the right words for this dumb bill that not only promises to completely fund Trump’s vanity wall, but also says the funding will come from some kind of creative non-evidence based pyramid scheme (and obvs not from Mexico). It’s hard to believe that these elected officials not only use fear to galvanize their base, but also love to feed the fear with figments of their imagination and not facts. Enough said.

_A Wall Would Violate Religious Freedom and Tribal Rights. Here is an 11th reason to our original 10 reasons why border walls don’t work: a border wall would interfere with the rights of borderlanders to exercise freedom of religion. Another reason why border walls don’t work is poignant in that it would re-traumatize and re-violate the sovereignty of the Tohono O’odham tribal nation and their way of life. How many more reasons are needed? P.S.- Thank you April Hiosik Ignacio of the Tohono O'odham Nation for writing this powerful letter to the editor.

_Deadline postponed. A continuing resolution passed this week kicked the Fiscal 2019 funding deadline down to Dec. 21, which means we need to double down on urging congressional leadership to stand strong against any more border wall spending. Please call and tell them #WallsDontWork and to #RevitalizeNotMilitarize our border communities.


border_lines is published every 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.

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