A otra cosa

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_A photograph of SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo is featured in this poignant story contrasting the stark differences between U.S.-Mexico and U.S.- Canada border holiday celebrations.

_SBCC co-chair Lilian Serrano and chair of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium is interviewed by Oxfam about the COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund, which helps recipients buy groceries, make car payments, and generally get by during this global pandemic.

_SBCC steering committee member Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center also expressed hope that the Biden-Harris Administration will honor its commitment to halt wall construction on “Day One,”  but also “take it down wherever we can” including wall desecrating tribal lands and blocking wildlife corridors.

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_A otra cosa. Despite the shenanigans of this week, we’re so ready to move forward (in Spanish, “a otra cosa”). We first want to commend and celebrate the amazing, powerful Black, Brown, tribal, API organizers, advocates and activists and their allies across the border region and country_and most recently in Georgia_who made the opportunity for transformative change possible. Now, we will be pivoting away from the days of a mad king to the return of_we hope_more unity and a deeper commitment to sane, humane, and solution-oriented congressional initiatives. We also hope that President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris work to ensure that the hateful, anti-immigrant, white-supremacist entrenched policies and violence that Trump and his allies perpetuated among his base are wiped out, by moving towards policies to protect our democracy and uphold human rights from the Capitol to our borders. Hateful and violent rhetoric, and the policies it has informed, must end. The Biden administration must also prioritize undoing the harm the Trump Administration caused, starting with Trump’s vanity border wall_a monument to himself and racism_to ending the violent militarization of our southern border region. We need to not only rethink borders and move towards policies that uphold the dignity and human rights of all people who visit our borders but also usher in a new, transformative era of democracy across our country. Yes, we can!

_Remarkable hypocrisy. We can’t risk appearing tone deaf by not at least remarking on the new level of Trumpian hypocrisy witnessed this week. Seeing hordes of Trump-supporting white supremacists storm the Capitol along with a troubling law enforcement response can only be explained by the double standard of systemic racism. For example, where were the DHS Federal Protective Services (FPS) agents and their deputized unidentified Border Patrol agents tasked to kidnap white insurgents in unmarked vans? Okay, we definitely don’t want to see federal agents kidnap people off the streets, we’re just saying it’s so very hypocritical especially when there was such an alleged need for these agencies to participate in the quashing of mainly peaceful Black Lives Matters protests nationwide not so long ago. Hypocrisy doubled when Trump withdrew the nomination of DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf allegedly as the result of Wolf stating that Trump should condemn the violence of the insurgency. But Wolf’s declarations seem more than a bit disingenuous; afterall, DHS and other federal agencies seemed fully aware of the threat of Trump-incited violence in D.C. How many days to go before we end this hypocrisy and move on to_hopefully_better days ahead? 

_Continued wall construction. While Trump fell woefully short of his goal to vaccinate 20 million people against COVID-19 by the end of 2020, he unfortunately met his goal of 450 miles of border wall and is scheming to get more miles built even after he leaves office. The Biden-Harris administration must be on their toes to make sure this doesn’t happen. For a sobering take on yet another tragic cost of Trump’s vanity wall, see this new Lincoln Project ad. No words. We will continue to advocate to protect the dignity and beauty of our beloved borderlands as you can see by these comments of SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee after Congress included yet another $1.375 billion (rolling eyes) for border wall construction in Fiscal Year 2021 federal spending. Lawmakers responsible for the FY2021 budget have said that the wording of the bill was intentionally vague to allow incoming President Biden to redirect the funds towards other things like roads, lighting and technology. Except that these options threaten the civil rights, environment, and quality of life of our communities and lands. Instead, we urge the new administration to work with Congress to redirect funds to help rectify the harmful legacy of excessive border militarization. Common sense should prevail.

_So this happened. We were thrilled to see that on New Year’s Day, President Trump signed into law a humanitarian border bill_which he likely did because it had the near unanimous support of Congress. The Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act will help save lives in remote areas of the border and identify human remains to bring closure to families whose loved ones perished in these areas (story quotes Yours Truly). While this is an important first step, we need to acknowledge that every year hundreds of people fall into distress in remote areas of the border region and die as a result of dehydration or exposure. Arizona border deaths recently hit a 10-year high. And more than 8,000 human remains have been found in remote regions of the border since 1998, the decade when the U.S. government, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, began implementing deadly “prevention through deterrence tactics” to force people to cross in more dangerous regions. These so-called deterrence tactics have so far only proven to cruelly punish desperate people seeking safety or reunification with family members in the United States. We cannot continue to allow this tragic humanitarian crisis to continue. We need to create a new humane way to manage our border that welcomes border residents and newcomers, expands community and public safety and ensures human rights and life are protected. We need a #NewBorderVision.


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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