_SBCC steering committee members Christina Patiño Houle, director of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, and Michael Seifert of the ACLU of Texas, explained how asylum seekers are being stopped by CBP officials before entering the United States at ports of entry and forced to wait several days in the hot sun before being allowed to cross and apply for asylum.
_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee noted the insensitivity of the Trump administration when it tore down a memorial for people who had died while crossing the border to make room for a new taller wall.
_SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative was quoted in this New York Times opinion piece about how the Trump administration is trying to put itself above the law when denying asylum seekers their rights.
_Listen to this radio report on the “All Against the Wall” protest that features SBCC steering committee members Johana Bencomo of Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) and Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center (SWEC).
_SWEC filed a lawsuit against the federal government for planning detention centers that will cage children indefinitely without getting public input or assessing the effects of these facilities on the environment.
_Budgeting on the backs of children. Congressional members came back to DC from the July recess intent on introducing harmful policy initiatives to government spending bills, including measures that would “solve” family separations that resulted from Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy by making it possible to cage children with their families indefinitely in unlicensed facilities. Disappointedly, Rep. Cuellar (D-TX) joined 30 Republicans to approve a House Committee on Appropriations amendment offered by Rep. Cole (R-OK) that would do just this by overriding the Flores settlement agreement which prohibits the government from jailing children longer than 20 days. The amendment, which passed by a 31-21 vote, was made to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education funding bill and not to one related to homeland security (the votes on this latter spending bill are coming up soon, see next Must_Read). The approval of this amendment also came after a federal judge in California rejected the administration’s request to alter Flores to do away with important child protections and make it possible to jail children indefinitely.
_Money, money, money. We’ve heard that the House Committee of Appropriations may be considering the FY 2019 spending bill on homeland security in subcommittee as early as Tuesday, July 17, with a vote on the bill in full committee the week after. The Senate Committee on Appropriations already passed the FY19 homeland security spending bill in June, approving $1.6 billion for 65 miles of border wall in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas; 375 Border Patrol agents; 375 CBP officers (at ports of entry); and $90 million for Operation Stonegarden grants, which incentivize local police into enforcing federal immigration laws.
_Adding up the numbers. If you look at the math, the Senate FY19 homeland security spending measure would add 65 miles to the 56 miles of existing border wall in Hidalgo and Cameron counties and to the 33 miles of new levee-border wall in Hidalgo and Starr counties approved by the FY18 budget, adding up to a grand total of 154 miles, effectively walling off the entire Rio Grande Valley, except for the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. It doesn’t matter whether you call it a fence, a levee or a wall_all are equally damaging to border communities and wildlife. A wall is a wall is a wall...
_Follow the money in harsh, anti-immigrant policies. More than 200 groups, including SBCC, signed on to this letter asking Congress to decriminalize migration to stop family separations, which has proven to be a boon to private prison corporations. An explanation of the origin of these misguided laws_ applied only when the government is feeling mean-spirited and racist_can be found here. And as noted before, the influence of private prison corporations on elected congressional members could also play a role in harsher, anti-immigrant policies.
_Antics that Aim to Fund Hate. The Trump administration continues to engage in false political theater to justify increased funding for more walls, more agents, and more detention beds. Ignoring historic lows in the apprehension rates at the southern border, the administration has created a “crisis” narrative about the border by turning back asylum seekers at ports of entry; prosecuting parents and ripping their children away between ports of entry; and characterizing people who are fleeing violence or trying to make a better living for their families as “gang members.” Now the administration has one-upped the game by creating a blanket policy that presumes people who are fleeing gangs or domestic violence aren’t eligible for asylum. Umm, that’s not how it works. By law, asylum claims need to be determined on a case-by-case basis, not by fiat that discriminates against a whole class of people.
_Feeling fed up? Take two minutes to call your congressional members, and tell them to stop the games. There is no need to fund more walls, more agents or more detention beds. And, stop enabling the Trump administration to break asylum laws. #DefundHate #RevitalizeNotMilitarize
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 Vicki@alliancesd.org, by Wednesday COB.