Bring them out of the shadows

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_Check out this important new report from the National Immigration Project at the National Lawyers Guild that highlights stories of people who were cruelly prosecuted for unauthorized entry and unauthorized re-entry, both federal statutes with explicit white supremacist origins.

_The Center for Biological Diversity filed this lawsuit against the Biden administration for failing to protect endangered ocelots during construction of border levee walls along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

_This video (content warning: racist violence) produced by a startup company promised to develop a “Wall of Drones” that had the capacity to launch electronic control devices (e.g., Tasers) at migrants in remote parts of the U.S.-Mexico border. Despicable.

_Our colleagues at the ACLU of Texas, Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas Fair Defense Project, and LatinoJustice rightfully filed a Title VI Department of Justice discrimination complaint against Texas Governor Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” with the support of more than 100 organizations.

_As if we needed yet another reason to consider CBP an agency dangerously out of control and engaged in abuse of power, we learn about “Operation Whistle Pig”implemented by CBP officials that are part of a secretive division within the agency that targets and surveils U.S. citizens, including journalists.

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_Bring them out of the shadows. Congress must investigate Border Patrol’s Critical Incident Teams (CITs - also known by many other names) and bring their shadowy, unlawful actions into public light. Last month, we held a press conference to announce the filing of a civil lawsuit in the case of Marisol Garcia Alcantara, who was shot in the head by a Border Patrol agent on June 16, 2021 in Nogales, Arizona, while sitting in the back seat of a vehicle that Border Patrol agents had detained. With the help of her attorney, Marisol is filing a Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA) claim against the Border Patrol. Despite CBP policy prohibiting the use of firearms solely to disable a vehicle (see CBP Use of Force Policy, page 20), an agent fired a bullet at the vehicle into Marisol's head. Fortunately she survived to tell her story and seeks justice. Despite having been shot in the head, Marisol was only provided care in the hospital for a few short days before she was turned over to immigration authorities who detained her for several weeks before deporting her for not having documentation to remain in the United States. And here’s the thing, at no time did a law enforcement officer ask her about being shot by a Border Patrol agent. According to the Nogales Police Department incident report, the Border Patrol's CIT took over the incident scene, refused to share information with the police, and pushed police to the perimeter to conduct traffic control. This unethical and unlawful intervention of the Border Patrol CIT is troubling in light of recent revelations that these teams have operated as shadow units within the agency to show up after use-of-force incidents to cover up evidence and mitigate the liability of border agents. Marisol's ability to seek justice, beginning with the filing of the FTCA claim, may be adversely affected by the actions of the CIT. Her story is far from isolated. Border Patrol has been engaging in questionable use of force for decades with little to no accountability. In short, these CITs have helped Border Patrol agents get away with murder (yours truly contributed to this AJ+ video). Marisol is the latest victim of a long history of violence by Border Patrol agents who are quick to shoot and slow to take responsibility for their actions. Marisol was also deported without any medical support, despite the fact that she still has the bullet fragments in her brain and is in constant danger of seizures and other conditions (note: Spanish news story quotes SBCC steering committee member Gabriela Rodriguez Clark of the Arizona network). Without any doubt, and as Rep. Raúl Grijalvaunderscored in SBCC’s virtual press conference, Congress must take action to investigate and hold Border Patrol accountable. #HoldCBPaccountable

_Broken promises. Sadly, 2021 was full of Biden’s broken promises and a multitude of disappointments in his administration’s policy decisions and initiatives. We are troubled to see moderate progressives who have caved in to the fearmongering of the former president’s acolytes, failed to grow spines, and have actually continued or enabled some of the former president’s cruellest policies. It really doesn’t feel like Kansas anymore. Biden vowed not to build another foot of border wall, and yet there have been miles of so-called “repairs to levee walls” constructed in the Rio Grande Valley. These “repairs to levees” go beyond just being a euphemism, but have become a loophole for the construction of even more miles of lethal border wall. Then in December the administration announced they would continue to build border wall to “close gaps” and for “life and safety” reasons, the latter reason sounding very loophole-ish…we’ll see…As an FYI, 12 people died in 2021 from falling off the 18- to 30-feet Trumpian walls, including a woman who was pregnant – that’s three times more than the number of people who died in 2020 (and three times more than the people who died from these falls, between 2012 and 2019!). Other major frustrations include the Biden administration re-starting Remain in Mexico 2.0 (aka Migrant Protection Protocols). First rolled out in El Paso, then to San Diego, and is soon to come to Laredo and Brownsville, and to other border towns. What happened to Biden’s promise to end Remain in Mexico because the policy was “dangerous, inhumane, and...against everything we stand for.” The administration is re-rolling out this program even when it is continuing to unlawfully use Title 42 to quickly expel people for supposed public health reasons. These initiatives deny due process to people seeking safety and place them at risk for further harms, including extortion and death. For a great explainer on why these policies are inhumane and outrageous, read this short document prepared by the Women’s Refugee Commission. We joined 242 organizations in opposing Remain in Mexico 2.0 and the continued (ab)use of Title 42 by the Biden administration. It’s time for the administration to keep its promises.

_2022 Wish List. Here’s hoping congressional conservatives grow a heart and congressional moderate progressives a spine to:

  • Create pathways for legal status for the millions of immigrants that make up this country. Immigrants strengthen our economy and nation and contribute their commitment and passion to our aspirational values. It’s time/es hora. 
  • Create a humanitarian and welcoming process at our borders to receive with dignity people seeking safety, wanting to reunite with their families, or aiming to better their lives. It’s time/es hora.
  • Create true, effective accountability for border agents who abuse their power, undermine our public safety, and put the nation at risk. It’s time/es hora.

We are real people with real lives. It’s time to treat all of us with humanity and dignity.We need a #NewBorderVision.


border_lines is published every other 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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