_SBCC colleague Shaw Drake of the ACLU of Texas issued a strong warning against CBP’s pilot program_slated to start in January_to collect DNA samples “on large swaths of people that could be used in all sorts of ways that undercut our constitutional rights."
_Please join the 27th Posada Without Borders 2020, tomorrow, Dec. 19, starting at 4 p.m. PST; this year the event will be held virtually here.
_When we talk about our borders being places of encounter, hope and opportunity, this is what we’re talking about.
_We were super encouraged to hear that President-elect Joe Biden’s tapped Deb Haaland, New Mexico and border congressional member, to become the next Secretary of the Department of the Interior; if confirmed, she would become the first Native American to become a cabinet member and we would look forward to working with her in addressing the deep environmental harms wracked by the administration in the last four years_including by the construction of Trump’s lethal border wall.
_Huge accolades to SBCC’s colleague Madhu Grewal of the ACLU for her candid and poignant Washington Post OpEd calling for incoming President Biden to end immigration detention and the horrible abuses that come with it.
_All we want for . . . Yep, all we want for Christmas/Kwanzaa/ Hanukkah is for our border champions and allies to become louder, clearer, stronger. There are, frankly, long-overdue lessons to be learned when in the last four years, the Trump administration has taken outrageous, unilateral steps to rip children away from their parents, tear gas and kill children with impunity, cancel protections to immigrant youth, and scar our beloved borderlands with a costly and useless monument to racism (aka Trump’s vanity wall). Think about it. Prior to doing this damage, did he ever check in with progressives or even border communities to see if doing this was okay? Not even close. Hence our concern that some Democrats, even well intentioned progressives, will forget lessons from the past -- and fall back to negotiating via non-productive compromise, where they grant anti-immigrant, border militarization types everything they want in exchange for few, if any, benefits. Case in point are the rumors that Democrats are planning to cede more funding for border wall construction in DHS’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget. Really? This, in spite of the fact that Trump declared a fake national emergency to pilfer $9.9 billion from military construction projects and counter-narcotics funding to build his border wall. Why is Congress thinking about funding more of this boondoggle? Halting wall construction immediately will save at least $2.6 billion of taxpayer dollars; more, if unspent dollars remain unspent. Think of all the places where that money could be better invested, like life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. We need the gift of a New Border Vision, already.
_20/21 human rights vision. And speaking about a new 20/21 vision, we were thrilled to see the Roadmap to Freedom Resolution, introduced by Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Chuy Garcia, Veronica Escobar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Judy Chu, and Yvette Clarke. If passed, this non-binding resolution asks policymakers to partner with borderland communities in decision-making about the border, facilitate safe, dignified, and efficient trans-border travel, trade, and support exchanges that strengthen community and economic ties and wellbeing. It would also honor “the rights of people living in the borderlands, including by reversing the flow of money into harmful border walls, barriers, and “virtual walls” that perpetuate militarization of the border and use invasive technology that violate individuals’ civil rights and civil liberties and [proposes] investing in modernizing ports of entry, economic development, education, and social services that would: (a) ensure fair, effective, timely, and humane processing of all persons seeking entry at the borders and ensure civil rights and civil liberties protections, including by ensuring that these protections apply fully everywhere within the United States, including at and near the border; (b) establish welcoming centers at the border [at all ports of entry] to ensure that people seeking safety are processed in a way that upholds American values; (c) protect the right of borderland communities to move without unconstitutional searches and seizures by ending checkpoints in the interior of the United States; (d) engage in evidence-based strategic planning to better allocate border authorities and resources and uphold human rights, including rejecting spending on military installments, physical barriers, or unnecessary personnel, and rescinding the authorities that were used to waive legal requirements for border wall construction.” It would also address the damages and provide reparations for landowners, communities, and public, private, and tribal lands harmed by border wall construction, border militarization, and border authorities. Now that is a vision we want to see.
_Goodwill bill. Any minute now, Congress will send a bipartisan, bicameral humanitarian bill, the Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act, to the president for his signature. The bill 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. The broad support in both chambers demonstrates that lawmakers can come together across political differences to act on their shared humanity. (¡Sí se puede!) Once Congress sends it over, it will be up to the president to do his part and sign it. Every year, hundreds of people fall into distress in remote areas of the border region and die as a result of dehydration or exposure, unable to access emergency services. While most are migrants, pushed into the deserts and mountains by border deterrence policies, others including border residents and law enforcement officials are also at risk of not being able to access help when they need it. Many of the thousands of human remains have not been identified because of a lack of resources at the local level. The bill would begin to address this issue. The bill originated in the Senate (S. 2174) and was introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sen Tom Udall (D-NM). It passed the Senate with unanimous consent on November 16, 2020, and will again any second now with a technical revision (not yet at print time). The House companion bill (H.R. 8772) was introduced by Representatives Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) and Will Hurd (R-TX), while Representatives Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Filemon Vela (D-TX), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) joined the bill as cosponsors. The House passed the bill on a voice vote on December 16, 2020. Over 100 forensic scientists, subject matter experts, border-region humanitarian aid groups, human rights, immigrants rights and faith-based groups signed a letter expressing support for the bill. In an acrimonious year, unanimous passage of this bipartisan, bicameral bill is a rare and welcome event. Once Congress sends it to President Trump’s desk, we urge him to sign it!
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.