Borderland Avengers

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_After DHS announced it would open four tent detention camps_ euphemistically called “soft-sided facilities”_starting in El Paso and Donna, Texas, SBCC steering committee member Christina Patiño Houle of Equal Voice Network strongly objected to the detention of families and children, and called on DHS to allow outside medical practitioners and child welfare professionals to access and monitor conditions.

_SBCC steering committee member Kevin Bixby of Southwest Environmental Center warns of the harms to the region’s wildlife that would be caused by new wall miles from diverted military funds slated for construction in Doña Ana and Luna counties in New Mexico.

_It’s crazy tunes that Trump was seriously considering detaining families and children in Guantanamo Bay.

_Our allies at the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter launched this video of veterans speaking out on the fake emergency declaration and senseless border walls.

_Here’s a different take on open borders that could prove wise; it’s time for a new way of thinking about the border.


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_Borderland Avengers. There is heroism in how border communities are welcoming asylum-seeking families and providing a true humanitarian response that is 180 degrees from Trump’s response. In fact_as we’ve noted before_every response by Trump has only made the situation ten times worse (flag: possible understatement). Non-profit organizations, groups of faith, and hundreds_if not thousands_of community volunteers have opened their hearts and shelters in each region of the border to provide medical care, food, clothing, and transportation arrangements to help these families get to their sponsors all over the country. For example, El Paso, Texas, opened a new 125,000 square-foot center for asylum seekers. Meanwhile, Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis introduced a resolution that would provide $250,000 to help fund humanitarian efforts to welcome asylum seekers. This resolution followed a similar one passed by Las Cruces, New Mexico, that funded a $75,000-response. And SBCC allies at the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voices Network created a model new website to strengthen the coordination of the community’s response. Meanwhile, San Diego opened an old, vacant courthouse to house asylum-seeking families. These heroes are all heart.

_Fake news? The media seems to have gotten it wrong on an emergency declaration made by the mayor of Yuma, Arizona. This Arizona State University college student, originally from Yuma, summarizes her concern about the media misrepresentation about the mayor’s motivations and provides her analysis of the community’s humanitarian response to asylum seekers, which is only in need of additional resources. “Mayor Nicholls told KYMA, the local news station in Yuma, that he does not expect any kind of danger from these immigrants but wants attention to be brought to his community so that the federal government responds with effective help...Yuma is not the only community facing this humanitarian crisis, which is exactly what this is. People are being crowded into shelters that can barely provide enough food, water, and hygiene. We have a crisis happening on our border that needs to be met with resources and solutions that are not imprisonment or actions that could further endanger these people.” Doesn’t this make you wonder where $8 billion might be better spent?

_Border True. Some (ok, maybe a lot of) folks seem to be clueless about how border communities are multinational, multi-cultural places of encounter, hope and solidarity. This story notes Arizona’s response to families arriving at our borders seeking protections_and quotes SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative_to illustrate how nonprofits and groups of faith have responded to both the needs of asylum seekers held back in Nogales, Mexico, and those who have been released into the community in Tucson. We’re a different kind of peeps, really: one that welcomes the strength of diversity and the contributions of immigrants to border communities and our nation.

_Angry Tias and Abuelas. Super congrats to three ally and sister Texas border organizations who have been chosen to receive the prestigious 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, which recognizes groups that work toward a “better and more just world.” The 2019 award, which will be presented in June, will go to Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, and La Unión del Pueblo Entero. The award provides much-needed recognition of how border communities are responding to families seeking protection at our borders with kindness, care, and concern. Per their news release, “As the political debates around immigration policy continue to ignore the humanity at the core of this fundamental human rights issue, we are honored to recognize [these three groups] for their tireless work to secure dignity, safety, and community for those seeking that very same opportunity and freedoms we all so frequently take for granted.” Right on, border familia.

_Wearing thin. We would appear tone-deaf if we didn’t acknowledge that the practices and policies implemented by Trump aren’t exhausting the resources of our caring and strong border communities. Some organizations and groups of faith have been forced to shut down their services and support because these have been unsustainable, such as this shelter in San Diego, California, and this one in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Some communities have responded by demanding the federal government reimburse their expenses, like San Diego and Yuma. Tucson also has a fairly innovative approach by applying for Operation Stonegarden funds to cover costs of their humanitarian response. “Tucson has been stepping up and locking arms, and making sure this gets handled,” noted City Councilman Steve Kozachik. “It’s not about politics, but rather making sure we get this done—honestly, both parties have punted on this issue. So, we need to work to make sure this is addressed in a humanitarian fashion.”

_And that’s just it, isn’t it? So while Trump struts out failed upon failed policies and practices that are born from a hateful place and only make things worse (for example, see here how a wall doesn’t work), border communities have responded with their hearts and souls, scraping up resources to provide a dignified response to families and their children fleeing violence and poverty. (To learn more about how you can help, please visit our website here.) From our perspective, It will never be okay to build more walls, deport more people, hire more unaccountable border agents, and further militarize our southern border homes. We need a new approach to immigration and to the way we govern our borders; one that lives up to the ideals of our nation, that honors the vitality of our border communities, and is in sync with our values and needs. We need a #NewBorderVision. Stay tuned.


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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Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


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