_SBCC steering committee members Dulce Garcia of Border Angels and Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee mourn the deaths of migrants who lost their lives in their recent attempts to find safety in the United States.
_The House of Representatives voted, 228-197, to pass the Dream and Promise Act of 2021 legislation to protect millions of immigrant youth and their families (see our statement); we urge the Senate to also pass the bill.
_The House of Representatives also voted to pass, 247-174, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA) legislation to pave the way for undocumented farmworkers and their families to obtain legal status, with strong bipartisan support; 30 Republicans voted for the bill.
_Super congrats to former New Mexico (and Border) congressional member Deb Haaland for making history and being sworn in as the first Native American Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
_We joined a Defund Hate and We Are Home letter signed by 245 organizations that urges Congress to right-size funding to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to instead invest our government’s critical resources in programs that support the health and well-being of our communities.
_A reckoning against racism. This week, it was disarming and angering to see another hate-motivated killing, this time of eight people, six of whom were Asian American women, in Atlanta, Georgia. Our sincerest condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims. This attack comes after a series of attacks against the Asian community, partly fueled by Trump’s racist rhetoric against China and Asian Americans in relationship to COVID-19 and unchecked white supremacy. But the origins of this type of hate run long, as noted by our colleague Erin Tsurumoto Grassi. A true reckoning needs to happen where we come to terms with our role in creating and perpetuating systemic racism and we need to take immediate steps in dismantling this system. Hate has no place in an inclusive democracy. And everyone is a part of the solution to #StopAsianHate.
_Normalizing hate. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was one of the nation’s first anti-immigration laws. Many white supremacist at the time also wanted to pass a similar act against Mexican immigrants, but U.S. farmers needed farmworkers to do the arduous work of picking their crops. Elected officials struck an agreement, where Mexicans would be allowed to come into the United States, but they had to do so through official ports of entry where they were required to pay a high fee and be subjected to kerosene baths and humiliating delousing procedures. Guess what happened? Seeking to avoid the high fees and humiliation, many Mexicans_and folks from other countries_began crossing between ports of entry. As a result, in 1929, Coleman Livingston Blease, an unrepentant white supremacist (note: he was a Democrat) helped pass a law to criminalize those who did not cross the border at an official port of entry. We’re sharing all of this as a way to describe the racist origins of our immigration policies, the origins of Border Patrol, and how billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted over decades in supporting a racist enforcement-only approach to the U.S.-Mexico border region. Tune in to the webinar, “U.S. Border Patrol’s Legacy of Racism; Alternative Visions for Border Management,” to hear Katy Murdza, co-author of The Legacy of Racism within the U.S. Border Patrol (please read this special report!) and Crystal Massey, both of the Immigration Justice Campaign at the American Immigration Council, and Yours Truly talk about the U.S. Border Patrol’s legacy of racism and the need for a New Border Vision. We need to stop white supremacist attacks on Black, brown, Indigenous and Asian Americans communities. Our communities, including immigrants, strengthen our nation. #Adelante
_Real Fake News. Former Senior Border Patrol Agent and SBCC Ambassador Jenn Budd calls out the media for exaggerating (i.e., real fake news) what’s happening at our southern border and notes how Border Patrol is well experienced in trumpeting a false narrative of a “border crisis.” Please don’t buy it. Of course, it is hardly surprising that anti-immigrant policy makers are travelling to the southern border, using our region as a backdrop, to tell us that children arriving to our border seeking safety pose a ‘crisis’ at the very same moment when we are finally on the verge of meaningful immigration reform (i.e., by the House passage of the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act). This almost seems like political obstruction. Ugh. How many times has this happened before, where racist anti-immigrants trot out fear mongering to deter any progress on fixing our broken immigration system? Enough already. These racist thoughts exist in the haters minds rent free; it’s way past time for them to evict them. Adding to the already rich, concrete examples provided by SBCC Ambassador Budd, read this story (paywall) about how Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents are telling elected officials that they will be releasing people seeking safety into small, rural communities_clearly adding another layer to the portrayal of a so-called crisis (story quotes SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Fronteras de Cristo). Really? And then there is this article that underscores that the rhetoric in no way matches the reality of what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border. But we’ve said this numerous times before: the challenge before us at the border will require a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach. These are children and vulnerable people seeking safety. We are up to the task. The United States has the capacity and enough resources to create a welcoming system and set a model example to the rest of the world. Here are four steps the Biden Administration can take to address this situation (quotes SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee and Yours Truly.) It’s time for a #NewBorderVision.
_Wall Stall. We were hopeful when President Biden first announced there would “not be another foot of border wall” built once he became President. Shortly after being sworn in, we were grateful that President Biden followed through and declared a 60-day pause on border wall construction that required a study on the status of border wall construction. He also rescinded the so-called national emergency that allowed his predecessor to transfer previously appropriated congressional funds to the Department of Defense towards border wall construction. So, while it’s a relief to hear the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas say in a recent congressional hearing that he would not recommend to the Biden Administration to continue the construction of Trump’s 30-foot wall, we still have a ton of questions. We are still wondering what the Administration will do about remediating the harmful environmental and cultural impact of border wall construction. We’re also urging the Administration to close the roughly 150 egregious eminent domain lawsuits in South Texas that threaten private property owners (story quotes SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of the Texas Civil Rights Project and SBCC colleague Melissa Cigarroa, who owns a ranch in Zapata County, Texas.). The Biden Administration needs to be much clearer about what their plan is for cancelling border wall contracts, how they will handle eminent domain cases, how they plan to mitigate harmful environmental and cultural damage, and whether or not they will consider reparations to the tribal communities that were deeply harmed by border wall construction. #NotAnotherFoot
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.