Changing the Subject

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_Please consider tuning in to a webinar on Thursday, March 18 at 2 p.m. EST titled, “U.S. Border Patrol’s Legacy of Racism: Can the Agency Be Reshaped?,” where Katy Murdza, co-author of The Legacy of Racism within the U.S. Border Patrol and Crystal Massey, both of the Immigration Justice Campaign at the American Immigration Council, and Yours Truly will provide a synopsis of the U.S. Border Patrol’s legacy of racism, how agents view themselves in relation to the different communities and groups of people they encounter along the border, a new vision for border governance, and what it would take to assert control over an agency that has enjoyed unchecked power; register here.

_We endorsed this letter that U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva and 22 congressional colleagues sent to President Biden, urging him to withdraw all troops (active-duty and National Guard) and military equipment (including concertina wire) from the Southern border. 

_SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project describes the anxiety felt by Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas residents facing uncertainty about the future of border wall construction in their backyards. 

 _This new CBP website on transparency shows that between 200 and 290 personnel were arrested each year in Fiscal Years 2018-2020 and, so far in Fiscal Year 2021, there have been 81 arrests; most arrests in FY21 were for drug and alcohol misconduct (43%), followed by domestic/family misconduct (28%).

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_Changing the subject. It seems the Grand Old Party (GOP) is resorting to Trumpian tactics to change the subject on how poorly they seem to care about American lives. Not one of them voted for the highly popular American Rescue Plan Act that was signed into law by President Biden, which will offer much-needed relief to U.S. households who are suffering as the result of the global pandemic. Soooooo, they must have thought, let’s change the subject by creating and focusing on the supposed “crisis” on the Southern border to instill fear, distraction, discrimination, and another big lie. That’s what Trump would do (WWTD, anyone?). Texas Gov. Greg Abbott jumped into the mudsling by despicably repeating old and tired false tropes about how immigrants spread disease; BTW, a day after lifting Texas’ mask mandate and at a time when Texas COVID cases are rising (but not because of immigrants). SBCC colleague Norma Herrera of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network noted in a press release that if Abbott “wants to keep Texans safe, [he] should have pushed the state to invest in a working power grid, not a wall. Now Abbott is doubling down on that mistake. Instead of offering solutions, all we get is fear mongering. We need real leadership that is attuned to the true needs of Texans and can offer a transformative vision that ensures our communities can move beyond crises and actually thrive.” Boom. On Monday, a GOP delegation led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) will go to the U.S.-Mexico border to further bolster this gross lie. But, take note, there is no evidence that migrants significantly spread the virus. #TakeAChillPill

_We’ve got this. As noted by two El Paso elected officials, Mayor Oscar Leeser and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobarthere is no crisis happening at the border; we’ve seen these numbers before. Brownsville, Texas Mayor Trey Mendez feels the same. And San Diego, California Mayor Todd Gloria, who was recently appointed to vice chair for border policy in the United States Conference of Mayors, also believes in a welcoming nation(Story quotes SBCC steering committee members Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego and Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee.) We couldn’t agree more. Families displaced by violence have a legal right to seek protection in the country where they feel safe, including the United States. Our country is at our best when we live by our values of compassion, dignity, and respect. In 1980, when El Salvador and Guatemala were experiencing humanitarian crises, the U.S. received more than 208,000 refugees and asylees, and throughout the 1980s, the United States welcomed an average of 102,000 refugees and asylees per year. CBP and Border Patrol personnel has increased exponentially since 1980. It’s also important to acknowledge that after the utter devastation and gutting of the immigration and asylum processes implemented by the former administration, it will take time to stand up a new welcoming system that offers a humane, efficient and orderly process and it will require a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach. The Biden-Harris Administration and Congress need to make this happen ASAP.  Resources_including appropriations (mostly via a shift of funding priorities)_are needed, alongside a surge to the southern border of social workers, trauma specialists, medical professionals and human rights specialists. We cannot expect untrained border agents who have operated in a culture of impunity and lack of accountability for decades to handle this work--especially after they’ve said they don’t want this job. We need a #NewBorderVision

_Stop anti-Blackness at the border. It’s troubling and appalling to see Biden continue some of Trump’s anti-Black and anti-immigrant policies, like using Title 42 as a poor excuse to expel individuals  from Haiti, Cameroon and Mauritania who were apprehended between ports of entry. We know it will take time to turn around the “prevention through deterrence” tactics of the last three decades_made crazy worse in the last four years. But, in the last two months, the Biden Administration has deported almost 1,300 people to Haiti, a country in the midst of a violent political crisis where lives are in danger. Days-old children risk losing parents to spiralling violence and insecurity once they land, and yet there is no way for Haitian people to access the U.S. asylum system. After taking the extreme and risky voyage to the United States, Haitian asylum seekers find themselves in U.S./Mexico border towns where they are discriminated against, targeted, cannot find employment, and are losing hope. For more information about what is happening to Black immigrants in Tijuana, view this report. Thank you to our colleague Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance for testifying in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs to make policy recommendations on Haiti for the Biden Administration_all, btw, on the same day that 135 people, including infants, are scheduled to be deported to Haiti. Thousands of Haitian asylum seekers have waited for years for a sign of humanity; it’s time we #WelcomeWithDignity


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.


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