_A heartfelt congrats to SBCC steering committee member Johana Bencomo of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) for being named to the New Mexico Governor’s Council for Racial Justice.
_Border Patrol’s retaliatory raid on a No More Deaths (NMDs) humanitarian aid camp on private property in Arizona should concern us all; this type of government-sponsored terrorism against humanitarian assistance has got to stop.
_After a year-long investigation, CBP did and said very little about a misogynistic and racist private Facebook Group that had more than 9,500 former and current agents and officers as members.
_DHS leadership is refusing to accept input from its own civil rights and civil liberties staff on developing policies; including ignoring their input on a new use-of-force policy that includes “the use of chemical deterrents against people trying to damage the wall on the southern U.S. border.” Yikes!
_Cronyism abysm. In what seems to be a fall into an abysm of cronyism_and despite Trump’s farcical attempt to distance himself from a privately built wall that is at risk of falling down due to severe erosion in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas_the Trump Administration turned around and gave the same exact private construction company a brand new contract to build more miles of border wall near Laredo, Texas. This puts into question how the Administration prioritizes taxpayer dollars on building a wasteful border wall (aka, useless campaign prop)_especially at the height of a global pandemic. This short video, which features SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), shows the cruelty and callousness of the Trump Administration in suing South Texans for their land when many of these families have lost their livelihood as the result of COVID-19. Land surveyors are also coming onto private property where families have sheltered in place, endangering the lives of theseTexan families. (The video was produced and disseminated by our friends at the Center for American Progress.) Meanwhile in Arizona, Mother Nature strikes again as annual monsoon rains damaged a section of Trump’s vanity wall that was being built through the San Pedro River, the last free flowing river in Arizona.
In other wall news, we were incredibly disappointed that a SCOTUS decision allowed Trump to continue building more of his lethal and pointless wall. But this fight is far from over and we will continue to advocate for democracy and our communities that are suffering from unaccountable and harmful border policies. Oh, and btw, we indeed noticed Presidential Candidate Joe Biden’s declaration about the border wall. It’s great that he is saying he will immediately halt border wall construction, but he should also be talking about taking the wall down, especially where it has been most harmful to people, the environment, and wildlife. We don't need more irresponsible walls at our borders, we need more responsible border governance that begins with respecting the checks and balances in this country. We need a New Border Vision that expands community safety, protects human rights, and welcomes all people to our region.
_Changing the narrative. DHS officials were defensive and evasive in their attempts to change the narrative about their role in suppressing protesters in Portland at two Senate committee hearings this week (one in the Senate Judiciary Committee and another in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee). DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli insisted that deployed DHS law enforcement officers were clearly identified with the word POLICE emblazoned on the front and back. However, there is at least one video that went viral where you could barely see the camo patches that identified the agency they were with_and then officers refused to identify themselves when asked. Cuccinelli then conceded that the use of army fatigues is being changed to the standard Border Patrol all-green uniform. That’ll help (not). The larger issue of why they’re even there at all seems to be a major missed point. Their argument that they are defending federal property sounds more like politics than sound police. During his testimony, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf angrily defended Trump’s deployment of federal agents to Portland, saying many agents had been injured by protestors. However, he failed to acknowledge how many protestors had been injured, but noted that the DHS Inspector General is currently conducting an investigation into use of force by these agents at these protests. Wolf also insisted that there was a difference between peaceful protests and the violence they witnessed after midnight in Portland, ignoring the violence agents perpetrated against peaceful demonstrators like the Wall of Moms. When asked about how agents beat a Navy veteran, Wolf responded by saying that those agents were U.S. Marshals. Wait. Doesn’t that make the point that these agents were hard to identify? Still that’s not a good answer. The theory is that all of these federal agents should be trained in de-escalation techniques, something both Wolf and Cucinelli claimed federal officers had received, but both also failed to elaborate on what these de-escalation techniques look like. Hopefully, the OIG report will shed some light on whether or not these uses of force were appropriate and about de-escalation techniques they used, if any. We’ll see.
_Nearly 100 people gathered on both sides of the wall in Nogales, Arizona, to protest Trump’s cruel anti-immigrant and anti-asylum policies. (Story quotes SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative). It’s no secret that Trump’s Administration is doing everything in its power, including taking advantage of a global pandemic, to completely gut U.S. asylum laws and our international human rights obligations. Sadly, this is creating even more hardship for those families who fled hardships and violence to seek protection at our border. We can do so much better than this. We need to #SaveAsylum.
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.