Constitution Dilution

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_BREAKING NEWS: The Government Accountability Office has determined that Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to serve in top DHS roles, making them illegitimate heads of the most morally corrupt agency in the U.S. government. 

_A U.S. Black foreign service officer described the pervasive harassment and discrimination she and other Black and Brown diplomats regularly endure while crossing the border, including when a CBP officer asked her if she was driving a “stolen car” when entering at a port of entry in El Paso, Texas. 

_The dehumanization of Mexican national Maria Cristina Vargas Espinosa (¡presente! ), who fell to her death from Trump’s lethal border wall_leaving behind three girls_is apparent in this article that describes local, regional and federal officials each ducking away from responsibility to investigate her death. 

_In a likely unconstitutional move, the Trump administration announced it is considering exiling U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) if they display COVID-19 symptoms at border ports of entry.

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_Constitution Dilution. After the shock and pain of 9/11, Congress jumped (too quickly) into passing the Patriot Act of 2001_which gave federal law enforcement agencies excessively broad powers to fight terrorism_and into re-organizing many federal law enforcement agencies to prevent a repeat attack on U.S. soil. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), which had been first established under the Department of Labor and then moved to the Department of Justice, was abolished by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, agencies were shifted around, and the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was thus created. Fast forward nearly 20 years later and we have come to realize that we may have literally created a monster that is undermining constitutional protections for both non-citizens and U.S. citizens and becoming a personal national police for an authoritarian like Trump. Maybe this is our new 9/11 moment? It certainly is for border communities. Our colleague Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote this opinion that urges Congress to dismantle DHS. We couldn’t agree more! The ACLU rightly called out the dangers of the premises that were created in 2001 and how we have witnessed blatant constitutional abuses happening against immigrants, border communities, and now in cities nationwide (including recently in Bend, Oregon). The powers that Congress gave to protect our communities against violence_in the wrong hands_have now resulted in violence against our own communities. Teens are carefully considering the case against abolishing DHS. And, even though nothing trumps the Constitution, for decades Border Patrol agents have persistently abused 4th Amendment and other constitutional protections within 100 miles from land or maritime borders_and they really think that’s okay. We know this first hand. When challenged, the Border Patrol comes up with several statutes that defend their “powers without a warrant,” like Title 8 USC 1325(a) and, after Portland, Title 40 USC 1315. On top of dismantling DHS, these statutes_ which have only served to undermine constitutional protections_should be abolished immediately by Congress. And while we’re on the subject of the government violating constitutional rights of border communities, big kudos goes to the ACLU northern border affiliates in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont for filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Border Patrol checkpoints in New England. Interior checkpoints run by Border Patrol agents that are notorious for racial profiling, have proven to be ineffective, and which interfere with our ability to go about our daily lives have got to go. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize

_Wall-induced havoc. Break-neck speed border wall construction in Texas, Arizona, and California is wreaking profound havoc on the lives of private property owners, Native American tribes, and ranchers. Community members in Laredo, Texas_most of whom do not want the border wall_are facing the possibility of losing their private lands and recreational parks along the banks of the beautiful Rio Grande (story quotes SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project). In California, a band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the La Posta Band of Diegueno Mission Indians, filed a suit that asks the Trump Administration for an immediate halt of further border wall construction across their sacred and ancestral lands. In Arizona, wildlife scientists voiced strong concerns that many endangered species are on the brink of extinction as the result of border wall construction in the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge east of Douglas. And most insultingly, as Southern Arizona ranchers near Sasabe are losing water pressure on their property_and may even lose water altogether_thanks to Trump’s vanity, destructive border wall construction, which gobbles up 110,000 of gallons per day to make cement_Trump expressed his worries about changing showerhead standards to protect his “perfect hair.” What’s it going to take to stop this travesty? #WeWillTearItDown #WePromise

_Black Immigrant Lives Matter. The courageous journey and unacceptable abuses experienced by black immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border are often lost in the narrative and assumption that these immigrants are only indigenous or Latinx. But the reality is that many of the people who are experiencing the horrors of Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-asylum policies at our southern border are black immigrants from all countries, including asylum seekers from Cuba and Cameroon. In fact, a record number of African immigrants have recently traveled to our border to seek protection. Many of these immigrants experience they same kind of abuse, discrimination and violence that the U.S.-born Black communities experience. #BlackLivesMatter

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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. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.

 

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