_Check out our latest video that exposes the REAL national emergency at our border.
_SBCC steering committee member Lilian Serrano, who also chairs the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, describes Welcoming San Diego’s new strategic plan as a great example of a “city working with affected community members to find ways to better integrate immigrants and refugees.”
_Refuting comments made by Trump in the SOTU, SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee explains why walls are deadly.
_This great blog from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC)_an SBCC national ally_describes how more border spending will only ‘secure’ more suffering.
_ICYMI: CBP gave almost $61 million of taxpayer dollars to a hiring firm as part of a nearly $300-million contract to hire 7,500 border patrol agents, but the firm has only managed to hire 33 new peeps to date; we hope Congress doesn’t give them another red cent.
_Bouquets of concertina wire. Not only are border communities outraged by more active-duty troops sent to the border (where_we repeat_there is no security crisis — only a humanitarian crisis of Trump’s own making), the City Council of Nogales, Arizona has called on the federal government to remove the miles of stacked concertina wire on the U.S. side of the border wall in downtown Nogales – and the mayor has warned that it will sue the federal government over what feels like the proverbial (sharp) poke in the eye. This over-the-top military occupation makes our neighbors and visitors feel like they’re in a war zone (story quotes SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo). Our borders are economically vibrant and places of encounter that inspire opportunity and hope. We’re also among the safest communities in the nation, even before this ridiculous hyper-militarization. This is going to come down to the wire.
_A legacy-destroying wall is upon us. Let’s be real. While conferees are negotiating a deal on Fiscal Year 2019 DHS funding (which will likely continue over the weekend), Fiscal Year 2018 funding has already begun to wreak havoc in our border communities. A federal judge ruling has already allowed surveying_the first step towards wall construction_at the site of the historic La Lomita Chapel, which will strip acres of property from a family that has held the land for generations and will cut off access to religious ceremonies to the faithful in the region. DHS issued a waiver of tens of environmental, public health and wildlife protection laws, including the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act , to expedite the construction of 14 miles of border wall (paid for by Fiscal Year 2018 funding) in San Diego. The National Butterfly Center also filed an emergency restraining order in an attempt to stop the bulldozers from leveling the ground for a 36-foot wall through their property, which will not only mar the wildlife refuge but rob surrounding communities of the ecotourism dollars from which they make a living. Indigenous activist from the Carrizo/Comecrudo tribes and allies are also getting ready to protest the likely unearthing of unmarked Native American graves at the Eli Jackson Cemetery, which sits only a mile from the Rio Grande. Prominent figures who fled persecution under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and who established an underground railroad for escaped slaves to Mexico are also buried at this 154-year cemetery. Any more funding for the border wall_defined as any physical structure, fencing, levee, etc._ would further devastate our communities. This, despite the latest polls that show a solid majority of voters oppose the construction of new border wall; following a few other zinger polls noted here. How can we allow a monument of racism built on these historic sites and sacred land?
_Annoying Retort. It kinda pushes our buttons when Trump claims that there is no reason why anyone should object to his vanity wall, since both sides of the aisle have supported the construction of all manner of physical barriers/walls in our border communities in the last two decades. Yeah. Totes true. BUT, there is a lot we hope folks have learned since the original wall was built, like how thousands of people have died when forced to cross in more remote areas, how it has caused millions of dollars of damages to our environment and dangerous flooding, and how it puts endangered and protected species at more risk, to name a few of the harms. Just cuz it’s always been done this way, doesn’t make it right. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Congress should ensure strong privacy protections as it proposes an alternative virtual wall that would use technologies to surveil our communities. Just cuz you call it a “smart wall” doesn’t make it smart.
_Illegally walling off asylum seekers. This administration really thinks it’s above the law, as evidenced by their blatant waiving of laws put in place by Congress to protect us from executive overreach and by their illegal disregard for domestic laws on asylum. Case in point are the recently announced and euphemistically-named “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which return asylum seekers to Mexico to wait for their court hearings. These reprehensible protocols are not only setting up asylum seekers for failure at the San Diego-Tijuana port of entry_as explained by SBCC co-chair Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego_but could be fatal. SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative expresses additional concerns about the harmful effects these would have on asylum seekers in Ambos Nogales. This is literally putting the lives of families and children against the wall.
_Indeed, the Land of Enchantment. SBCC co-chair Johana Bencomo of Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) notes how Southern New Mexico community members were able to overcome Border Patrol checkpoints_which are far north of the U.S.-Mexico border line_to bring their voices to the New Mexico Roundhouse during Immigrant and Workers' Day of Action. A big shout out goes to New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall_and co-sponsors_for championing border communities and introducing three bills that would protect residents and wildlife from Trump’s harmful and odious wall. One bill would ensure private property owners are fully and justly compensated for their lands before the Trump administration can seize these lands for building a wall. The second bill would protect wildlife refuges and wilderness areas from a harmful wall. And the third bill would prohibit the administration from waiving laws_purposely established by Congress to protect our air, water, endangered species, and religious freedom, to name a few_to build a wall. Another big gracias goes to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for withdrawing National Guard from New Mexico’s border stating, “New Mexico will not take part in the president's charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops." Also, check out this poignant but hilarious video, where she prioritizes spending taxpayer dollars on infrastructure, apprenticeships and skilled training, and schools and small businesses instead of a dumb wall. Speaking New Mexican truth to power while busting down walls.
_Tear-gassing children. The American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program released a report that takes to task CBP’s use of tear gas against migrants seeking protections at the border. The report includes first-hand accounts of the victims of tear-gassing over the New Year’s, including how Border Patrol agents fired tear gas indiscriminately at them_putting their children at risk_and how CBP statements contradicted witness and news media accounts. This gives a new definition to gaslighting.
_Wanna help? There are a couple of things you can do. One is to sign No More Deaths’ petition to drop charges against volunteers who were only providing humanitarian aid to migrants in remote Arizona desert areas. And two, keep writing and calling your congressional members and tell them to take a stand against the erosions of our nation’s laws, such as those on asylum and those that protect our water, air, people and lands. P’alante!
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.