A more perfect union

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_This Sunday, January 24join the thousands of people who will observe a National Day of Action to stop border wall construction and to hold President Biden accountable to his promise to “not build another foot” of the border wall. 

_Read this poignant opinion written by Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego (ASD) on how Martin Luther King Jr’s words inspire ASD’s work (of which the Southern Border Communities Coalition is part). 

_SBCC steering committee member Johana Bencomo of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) is interviewed (starting around 14 minutes) about CAFé’s initiatives to improve the quality of life of southern New Mexico communities and how President Biden’s immigration proposals give her hope.  

_While we see President Biden pivot away from a physical border barrier towards so-called “smart” technologies, here is a reminder (oldie, but goodie) of why a “smart border wall” is not a humane alternative.

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_A more perfect union. This week, we welcomed a flurry of executive actions and proposals from the Biden Administration that seem to strive towards a more perfect union. Shortly before being sworn in, President Biden announced an immigration proposal to create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented community members in this country  nearly 5 million of which live in the Southwest border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. While we have yet to see the fine print, we welcome this news for families living in the hyper-militarized border region, where heavy-handed immigration enforcement tears apart families on a daily basis. We were especially grateful to see language that used the framework of “border management” (versus the problematic and often unaccountable “border security”), a term that aligns well with the framework of our New Border Vision. Until we see the legislative text, we will remain cautiously optimistic as we’re certain there may be room for improvement as noted by SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee. ¡Adelante to a new day!

_Writing on the wall. President Joe Biden didn’t waste any time in signing a multitude of executive actions to immediately reverse some of his predecessor’s most harmful policies, including a Day One proclamation that aims to halt border wall construction within seven days of signing the orderWe urge border wall contractors to see the writing on the wall and immediately halt construction activity. On first blush, whether the activity has stopped or not seems to vary by location: near Friendship Park in San Diego, construction seems ongoing, while in Southeast Arizona blasting in critical jaguar habitat seems to have stoppedThe executive action rescinds Trump’s fabricated national emergency declaration and puts a pause on construction that was funded by both congressional appropriations and the stolen money from the military and the U.S. Treasury. All of this being very good for our communities, environment and wildlife, but we urge Biden to go even further. SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of the Texas Civil Rights Project expressed disappointment that Biden’s proclamation against further border wall construction did not include closing the 200+ eminent domain cases in South Texas through which the government is attempting to seize ranches, farms, homes and other private lands to build Trump’s vanity wall. We urge Biden to direct the Department of Justice to end these cases. Good next steps for Congress are to recognize the harms of Trump’s wall, rescind unspent past fiscal year appropriations for border wall construction, and divert these funds instead for environmental remediation efforts and reparations to communities harmed by the wall, including tribal communities. It’s time.

_So-called scarcity blues. A few days after we signed onto a letter asking President-Elect Biden to place a moratorium on immigration enforcement, President Biden issued an executive order to revise the policies and priorities of civil immigration enforcement. Clearly this executive order doesn’t go far enough_how about doing away with rights-violating interior checkpoints, migrant prosecutions that lack due process, and detention of people in the borderlands  (although to be fair, we did appreciate his intent to address some of these issues and root causes of migration in his immigration proposal). Given the astronomical increase of funding into CBP and ICE coffers, it seemed laughable that DHS described itself in the accompanying memo as being short on resources. We swiftly responded to the DHS memo, along with our colleagues in the Defund Hate campaign, demanding significant funding cuts to both ICE’s and CBP’s over-bloated budgets. Enough is enough. We need to be investing instead into the real needs of communities, including health care, education and the creation of new job opportunities. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize

_Our Future. Trump’s exit from the White House this week reminded us a bit of a T.S. Eliot poem as it ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. As immigrants, border communities, people of color and other groups that came under daily attack by his administration, there was a collective sigh of relief and for the first time in four years, hope. Still, we are shell-shocked and tired as we look around at the devastation he left in his wake, the harmful anti-Blackness of his policies, the cruel separation of families, the deaths of innocent youth and children with impunity, the banning of entire groups of humans of a different faith, and other daily assaults. We recognize not only how much work we have in front of us to repair these harms, but also how much work we have in front of us to create a transformative new world. One that makes democracy a real thing for all, ensures all communities thrive and prosper, and fortifies our resolve to be a better, more welcoming nation to those seeking safety. This article (which quotes Border U.S. Rep. Verónica Escobar, SBCC colleague Laiken Jordahl of the Center of Biological Diversity, and Yours Truly) illustrates well the work that lies ahead, not just in addressing the harms of the cruel and fatal border wall but also in addressing decades-old and harmful border-related policies. We will persist.


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. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


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