_Check out our new Border Lens page that illustrates the strength of immigrant communities in the border region and why immigration reform matters; learn how almost half of all undocumented youth (one in five in border counties), three in ten TPS holders, half of undocumented farm workers, and two in five undocumented essential workers live in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
_The House Appropriations Committee passed, 33-24, a Fiscal Year 2022 funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security (committee report here) that would provide a 2 percent funding increase ($53 billion); next steps for the bill are unclear, but we’re going to continue our efforts to call for Congress to divest from harmful border militarization and instead channel resources towards programs that help our communities thrive.
_Border restrictions_not COVID-19_have led to the loss of close to a billion dollars of business and shuttered doors for California border region businesses.
_SBCC colleague Ian Seruelo, of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) Advisory Board and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), describes how the Biden Administration has placed NGO volunteers in the untenable situation of having to pick a handful of the most vulnerable people who can enter the United States to seek safety.
_Big Border is Watching. As this article shows, Big Brother Patrol is increasingly using surveillance technologies to invade the privacy of border communities, a harmful legacy starting as far back as the Vietnam War. Moderates, unfortunately, too often acquiesce to this so-called “smart wall” while ignoring the very real risks and harms that these invasive technologies pose for border residents and the lives of migrants. The excessive reliance on border surveillance technologies can be clearly seen in the House’s Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes $180 million for CBP surveillance technologies. These initiatives come with little to no accountability and oversight and fail to seek meaningful input from, or examine impacts on, affected communities prior to deployment. Our national colleague Julie Mao of Just Futures Law center, notes in this article that, “[House Appropriations Committee members have] chosen mass surveillance as the ill-conceived solution. . .But this money will only go to lining the pockets of military tech corporations at the expense of border communities and migrants who are already subjected to heavy surveillance and criminalization.”
_Wall wall. There is a wall of logic that *should* put a quick stop to the completely illogical lawsuit filed by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush against Biden for stopping border wall construction that was planned with funds previously appropriated by Congress. It’s embarrassingly obvious that not only is this lawsuit a media stunt to garner support for higher political aspirations, but it also lacks standing. Had the Texas Commissioner done his homework, he would have noticed that President Biden put a stop to border wall construction that was funded by former President Trump’s unlawful diversion of funds that Congress appropriated for the Pentagon, not the wall. This is why the House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill that just passed out of committee rightly would rescind more than $2 billion that Congress had appropriated for the wall in previous years. Cuz only Congress can do that, dummy. Talk about barking up the wrong wall. And while we’re talking about wall and politically motivated ploys, Texas Governor Abbott’s plan to build a wall will face the same obstacles Trump’s lethal, vanity wall did: money, private property battles, and flooding (i.e., Mother Nature). Time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars for a bad and lethal idea. In somewhat good news, we were encouraged to see border wall remediation work start near Yuma, Arizona_except we really don’t want to see any “grading of unfinished maintenance roads,” these simply need to be re-seeded and restored to their natural state. To see priority areas in Arizona and New Mexico that urgently need environmental mitigation work to heal the devastating harms of the wall, see this map_released by Wildlands Network_along with a StoryMap that includes a brief history of the border, case studies that show the ecological harms caused by border wall construction, and recommendations for priority restoration areas. For more information, see Wildlands Network press release here. We can fix this, NOW. #NoBorderWall
_No Bliss for Children. Our colleagues at Earthjustice, Hispanic Federation, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, GreenLatinos, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement joined the calls to close a youth detention center inside Fort Bliss, Texas, noting concerns related to the environmental hazards on the grounds. Not only is it a really bad idea to cage children on a military base ill-equipped to take care of them and far away from community support, but records obtained through FOIA litigation show that there are about 80 contaminated sites at Fort Bliss. These hazardous, toxic waste sites contaminate the facility’s water and air quality, likely does not meet the Flores agreement or agency-required standards of care for minors, and is unsafe and unsuitable for detaining children. For more information about the environmental hazards found on Ft. Bliss read this letter. Former Border Patrol Agent and SBCC Ambassador Jenn Budd recently joined groups in El Paso to protest against children being held in detention inside Ft. Bliss. Let’s shut this place down and reunite these children with their families in the United States asap.
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.