Beyond Orwell

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_Here are two SOTU responses not to be missed: Border Congresswoman Veronica Escobar’s poignant response in Spanish (English here) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s inspirational response; both echo our New Border Vision.

_SBCC steering committee member Kevin Bixby of Southwest Environmental Center explains why SWEC joined the Center for Biological Diversity in a petition that asks SCOTUS to overturn lower court decisions that allow DHS to use an expired and unconstitutional waiver authority to ignore laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, to build more of Trump’s vanity wall. 

_After much debate and deliberation, Pima County Supervisors in Arizona rejected $1.8 million in federal Operation Stonegarden grants that would have continued to co-opt sheriff’s deputies into enforcing federal immigration law, something that discourages witnesses and victims of crime from calling police, undermining public safety for all.

_This article in Spanish (which quotes yours truly) makes solemn observation of the more than 100 deaths on CBP’s watch, none have resulted in border agents held accountable.

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_Beyond Orwell. It’s hard to believe that there is outrage over shunned handshakes and ripped-up paper, but very little said about the strengthening and evolving authoritarianism we are witnessing. Double-speak has nothing on Trump granting CBP more secrecy via special privileges and exemptions, further exacerbating the agency’s lack of transparency and culture of abuse and impunity. Of grave concern is that unlike other federal agencies_like the FBI and Secret Service_CBP has “powers without warrant” that supposedly give them the power to stop, interrogate, and search people inside the country indiscriminately. That is a power that exceeds any powers given to any other law enforcement agency in the country. The addition of a “security agency” designation for an agency that already operates outside of the Constitution presents a tremendous danger to the country. Trump gave CBP these new special privileges right before a U.S. citizen, James Paul Markowitz, died while in the agency’s custody. Very little was revealed about this death and we wonder if we will ever find out more. For more than a decade, SBCC has called for more transparency from CBP, and for the agency to be held accountable for its abuses of power, including detaining children in squalid conditions and for the deaths of more than 100 people at the hands of border agents. “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.” — George Orwell 

_Beyond the Pale. Trump’s administration appointed the former head of an anti-immigrant hate group to a role recently created by Congress that aims to “independently” oversee complaints of civil rights abuses in both ICE and CBP detention centers. The role was written by congressional members into the Fiscal Year 2020 spending budget as a way to curb the department’s rampant abuse and impunity, but this appointment grossly undermines the intent of the new office. If this doesn’t smack of a deliberate disregard for human rights, we don’t know what does. Adding insult to injury, we’ve recently seen other examples of how the Trump administration continues to ramp up discriminatory policies against immigrants, such as putting in place travel restrictions to women of child-bearing age (babies are NOT a national security threat!). Then Trump issued a proclamation to expand travel restrictions to six countries (i.e., Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan), which clearly will affect more Muslims and immigrants of color. Instead of expanding these racist travel bans, we should be dismantling them, which is why we support legislative initiatives like the No Ban Act. Then Trump’s administration added icing to the racist, anti-immigrant cake by suspending Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs for all New York residents. Why, you ask?  As a way to retaliate against a New York state law that prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing private information from license holders with ICE and CBP. It seems anti-democratic for Trump to say something like “do as I say or forfeit your state’s rights and autonomy.”  Or is this the very definition of tyranny? 

_Total Boon-wall-ggle. Trump’s bulldozers and explosives are laying waste to our precious water resources, our prized national monuments and our sacred sites; disregarding the sovereignty of our tribal nations; and putting our beloved wildlife on a runaway train towards extinction. All in haste to fulfill an unpopular, misguided, and harmful campaign promise to build a useless, super-duper expensive border wall. But even if_over our protests and objections_this horrible wall gets built, time and nature will force billions of dollars in maintenance costs and one day, a new president, a wiser congress, and a younger, more diverse electorate will stop funding this massive monument to racism and tear it down. #NewBorderVision #DefundHate #RevitalizeNotMilitarize

_Donations welcome. Please consider making a donation to the organizations below that are helping refugees stranded in northern Mexico because of Trump’s cruel Remain in Mexico policy. After selecting items on each wish list, be sure to click on the organization’s name in the shipping addresses so that the items are shipped directly to them.

Thanks for considering.


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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