_SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of the Texas Civil Rights Project writes this powerful opinion (that includes a flowchart!) on how President Biden should ease the fears and suffering of private property owners in South Texas by closing more than 150 eminent domain cases filed for Trump’s lethal vanity wall; he was also quoted in this story about Biden’s request to the U.S. Supreme Court for a delay in the border wall case.
_The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) joined 170 colleagues on this letter sent to the White House Domestic Policy Council, calling for an end to Operation Streamline, a halt to improper entry and improper reentry prosecutions (i.e., 8 USC 1325 and 1326), and an end to private immigration detention.
_SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo in Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora describes the harms of border wall construction to border communities and immigrants.
_ICYMI: Tune in to our latest recorded “Comadres Chat” during which Lilian Serrano (SBCC Co-chair), Jenn Budd (SBCC ambassador and former Border Patrol agent), Johana Bencomo (NM CAFé), Astrid Dominguez (ACLU Texas Border Rights Center) and Yours Truly discuss President Biden's border-related executive actions and immigration reform proposal, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.
_Read this opinion_written by our colleagues at the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law_on common-sense ways to unclog the U.S. immigration court dockets; the opinion includes a link to a letter SBCC signed onto in support.
_Broken. It has become abundantly clear to us that the system for holding Customs and Border Protection (CBP)_the nation’s largest federal policing agency_accountable is broken and in dire need of repair. We’ve been tracking use-of-force deaths of U.S. citizens and non-citizens in the borderlands since 2010, including the horrific killing of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, a long-time San Diego resident who was beaten, tortured and suffocated to death by border agents in May 2010. Despite eyewitness evidence and obstruction of justice on the part of CBP, no border agents have been held accountable for Anastasio’s death. In fact, CBP’s Use of Force Review Board has exonerated nearly all agents and has not even bothered to report out any reviews of force in the last four years_when all kinds of abuse was happening. Anastasio’s story is one of many related to the hyper-militarization of the southern border region.
But this week, Anastasio’s family announced the filing of new testimony from three former high-ranking Department of Homeland Security officials who point to a cover-up, speaking to CBP’s legacy of misconduct, corruption and lack of accountability. Anastasio’s case is the first known case alleging an unlawful killing by U.S. law enforcement before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Read this story for a gut-wrenching, eye-opening summary of the nefarious extent of CBP’s cover-ups.
For decades, border communities have known first-hand about the agency’s culture of impunity, but now the Biden Administration has the opportunity to create structural reform to help mend the deep wounds militarization has caused in our region. Among our priorities for the new administration is calling for an efficient and effective system that holds CBP officials accountable for abuses and excessive use of force. We urge the Biden Administration to put an end to CBP’s decades-long culture of abuse, reckless use of power, and dangerous enforcement-only policies. SBCC will continue to track deaths by Border Patrol, and will continue to advocate for the borderlands until we usher in a New Border Vision that upholds human rights, expands public safety and welcomes all to our region.
_Deadly agents. While we’re on the subject of deadly agents, we should also mention how_on a larger scale_ the use of “prevention through deterrence” tactics by border officials in the U.S.-Mexico border regions have resulted in the deaths of thousands_yep, thousands_of people who were forced to cross in the most inhospitable and remote regions of the borderlands. Recently, No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos released a new report (and summary video), “Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search and Rescue, and the Crisis of Disappearance” which provides hard data on how Border Patrol agents outright refused to rescue individuals who made calls in distress or to seek out missing persons that had been reported by concerned family members. And, worse, the agency obstructed humanitarian groups’ rescue efforts. Report authors offered a virtual release of the report here. Specifically and disturbingly, the authors found that Border Patrol did not conduct a confirmed search or rescue mobilization in 63 percent of the cases, which includes “40 percent of cases where Border Patrol openly refused to take any measures in response to a life-or-death emergency.” According to the authors, when Border Patrol did respond, the searches were severely diminished in time and resources when compared to searches for US citizens. Bias, anyone? This is just wrong. Meanwhile, this same week and until Monday, Feb. 8, Human Rights Watch will be screening “Missing in Brooks County,” (trailer here) a film that shows how the Falfurrias, Texas, Border Patrol checkpoint_which is 70 miles north of the actual international_border has funneled people to their deaths and disappearance. Watch a recorded Q&A on the documentary_that includes the participations of SBCC colleague Clara Long of Human Rights Watch and Yours Truly here. Prevention through Deterrence = Death.
_Deja Poo on the Wall. By now one would hope that our elected officials would get how harmful Trump’s vanity wall has been to border communities and the borderlands and that it’s time to restore damaged lands. But, no, it was deja poo all over again to see Senators rush to introduce several amendments to the 2021 Budget Resolution that would continue border wall construction (the budget resolution began the process for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill). Of the more than 700 amendments introduced, only 54 were put up for a vote_two of which were border related. We would like to thank our champion border Democratic Senators Alex Padilla (CA), Diane Feinstein (CA), Mark Kelly (AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Martin Heinrich (NM) and Ben Ray Lujan (NM) for helping defeat all of these amendments. Otherwise this vote-a-rama would have felt like an poop-o-rama.
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.