Agents Of Death

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_SBCC steering committee members Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee, Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego, Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo, and SBCC Co-chair Christina Patiño Houle of Equal Voices Network are quoted in this story (Spanish) about our New Border Vision.

_SBCC steering committee member Lilian Serrano of San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium shares this heartbreaking story of the roadblocks her mother-in-law faced to access health care services because of her immigration status, which may have contributed to her death from gallbladder cancer.

_The trial of Scott Warren_a No More Deaths volunteer who is facing up to 20 years in federal prison for providing humanitarian aid_starts next Wednesday, May 29, 9:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, the same courthouse where_in a stroke of heartbreaking irony_several Border Patrol agents have been exonerated for using lethal force against unarmed people, including teenager Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.

_Todd Miller’s new book “Empire of Borders” illustrates how the U.S. is exporting its deadly and ineffective border practices all over the world, which is the exact reason why our new border vision should be the model implemented at our borders and exported abroad.


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_Agents of Death. This week we observed the one-year anniversary of the killing of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 20, by an unnamed Border Patrol agent near Rio Bravo, Texas. Based on the longstanding impunity enjoyed by this agency, we weren’t surprised that Claudia Patricia’s parents still have no answers about why their daughter was fatally shot; the agency hasn’t even reached out to them. Geez, really? We are profoundly grateful our colleagues at the ACLU are seeking to find a measure of justice when they filed a lawsuit for damages on behalf of her parents on the one-year anniversary of her death. We hope that justice will be served so that her parents and loved ones can find some closure. Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, ¡PRESENTE!

_A Deadly Culture. Let’s be blunt. When we learned of yet another death of a child (a 10-year-old Salvadoran girl) who died while in U.S. government custody and that it was kept a secret for eight months, we were outraged. This revelation bumped up the number of (known) child deaths at the hands of U.S. enforcement agents in the past eight months to six. The other  five children who died were all Guatemalan: (1) Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, 16, died of influenza after spending more than a week in a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas; (2)  a 2½-year-old who was taken into custody near El Paso in April died while with his family; (3) 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez, who was taken into custody by border patrol agents near El Paso, Texas, died from a brain infection in a Health and Human Services shelter; and (4) Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, and (5) Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8, both died in Border Patrol custody. ¡Presente! to all the deaths we know about and to those who we have not yet learned about. Even Rep. Joaquin Castro called the death of the Salvadoran ten-year-old girl an administrative cover-up and appropriately responded to CBP’s request for more funding by saying, “"We give them billions of dollars, and they want to use it on a wall instead of spending it to make sure that people don't die and that they can medically treat emergencies that migrants maybe come into or that their own agents may come into." CBP, afterall, has the most resources and largest budget of all the enforcement agencies under DHS. A common-sense approach would re-prioritize these funds to save lives. No?  

_Literally a death trap. For a while now, we’ve been extremely concerned about how CBP keeps families and children in overcrowded and inadequate holding cells in “processing centers” across the border. SBCC ally Astrid Dominguez of the ACLU Border Rights Center noted how ACLU had flagged concerns about the Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas, before the tragic death of Carlos Hernandez Vasquez. Thankfully, Border Patrol has decided not to accept any more people into this facility, which is seriously overcrowded and has an outbreak of influenza. But much more needs to be done, including a shift from enforcement-only measures to a new border vision that is a replicable model of better border governance. Here is an explanation of why children die in Border Patrol custody, but the bottom line is that children should not be jailed. We can, and need, to do this to save the lives of children.

_Dreams and Promises. This week, House Judiciary Committee members cheered the passing out of committee of the Dream Act of 2019 and the American Promise Act of 2019 without amendments that would sacrifice border communities. We cheered too. The Dream Act of 2019 and the American Promise Act of 2019 would protect 2 million people under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) — all programs terminated by the current administration, making every undocumented person a priority for deportation. We hope that after the Memorial Day recess, the House passes the “clean” bills in a floor vote in early June, followed by a similar process on the Senate side. Then, maybe, just maybe, Trump will sign the bills without holding people hostage in need of immigration relief in exchange for harmful border enforcement or other anti-immigrant measures. Here’s hoping that’s not a tall order.

_Are they dead serious? The good news is that the Senate finally gave up the hostage-taking ghost and finally passed much-needed disaster relief to rebuild communities that experienced severe damages from wildfires and violent storms without tying it into the outlandish DHS budget supplemental request for additional border enforcement. The bad news is that at the time that we're sending out border_lines, it appears that a single congressional Republican is holding up disaster relief in the House, so this struggle to get disaster recovery funds where they are needed most may be postponed until next month. The other tidbit of bad news is that the Administration persists on finding ways to rob funds from other agencies as a backup plan if they fail to get the $1.1 billion supplemental request for more border enforcement, thus circumventing congressional approval. One idea is to take the more than $3 million collected from loose change passengers leave at airport TSA checkpoints. That’s no chump change.

_Kill the Wall. Any minute now, we should be getting a ruling from the judge on our lawsuit with the ACLU and Sierra Club requesting a preliminary injunction against further border wall construction. Meanwhile, Trump is rushing to start construction in as many places as possible using funding that had been set aside by Congress for the military. Walls do not work and they have damaging effects on our environment and kill wildlife, including endangered and protected species. Please help us push back against the latest installment to build 63 miles of wall through protected nature areas in Arizona by submitting your concerns at comment generators created by the Sierra Club or the Center for Biological Diversity. Comments need to be submitted no later than Friday, July 5th. Let’s demand that taxpayer dollars be used 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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