Death in detention - March 22, 2019 - border_lines

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_SBCC steering committee member Christina Patiño Houle of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network joined community members in South Texas to rally against the visit by Senators Cruz and Cornyn as well as DHS Secretary Nielsen to promote the #FakeNationalEmergency.

_After news outlets recently uncovered the secret tracking of immigration activists, journalists, and attorneys, SBCC member organization ACLU of Texas joined The National Butterfly Center, The Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club and others to host a special borderlands edition of a Know Your Rights forum in McAllen TX.

_DACA recipient and flight attendant, Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, is stuck in immigration detention and facing deportation after being detained at a Houston airport for returning on a flight from Mexico she was told to work.

_This Sunday March 24 our very own steering committee member Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee's U.S./Mexico Border Program will speak on an immigration forum on “Why People Seek Asylum in the U.S.”


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_Death in detention. The long and dark shadow of border militarization continues to span across the southern border region, with deadly consequences. This week we learned of yet another person who died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the 4th in recent months. His name was Rene Pablo Perez Gordillo, and according to CBP, he died of flu-like symptoms, liver failure and renal failure. Our hearts go out to his family and to all of those who have paid the ultimate price for our country’s wrongheaded, enforcement-only approach to immigration. This is the second death of a detainee while in CBP custody in 2019, and the fourth death since December, when we learned of the tragic deaths of Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, 7, and 8-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin. We need to continue to hold CBP accountable, an agency with a long track record for death, abuse and impunity.  We should know a thing or two about this. We’ve been keeping track of the 85 people who have died at the hands of CBP officers since 2010. Rene Pablo Perez Gordillo, presente!

_No money for funny business. In light of these horrific deaths, and the outrageous fact that Trump is seeking to fund even more unaccountable agents, deadly detention centers and harmful and wasteful walls with his 2020 budget proposal, the #DefundHate coalition_which we are a part of_ announced the escalation of their campaign to defund CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2020. It comes as the committee has experienced large-scale growth in partnership. “The Trump administration has attempted to manufacture crisis after crisis in the southern border region, going so far as to call a fake ‘national emergency’ to fund the President’s anti-immigrant agenda and deadly, wasteful wall,” said Yours Truly. “The Trump administration's shameful Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, which includes several slush funds he grants himself the ability to spend as he pleases, provides further evidence that the Administration opposes constitutional checks and balances and is attempting to concentrate power — particularly over federal resources — in the Executive Branch.” You heard it here first: in 2020, we’re hydrating, we’re exercising, and we’re defunding dangerous, deadly, and wasteful border militarization. There’s nothing funny about this.

_Stash and Release. Kirstjen Nielsen, patrona of the Department of Homeland Security, has once again resorted to playing people like literal poker chips in her quest to paint a fake emergency at the border for political points. At a press conference in McAllen, Texas, Neilsen announced mass releases of asylum-seekers with only a notice to appear before an immigration judge at a later date. Nielsen claims the haphazard release of hundreds of people into the streets is due to the lack of space in detention centers, but immigration attorneys and advocates have noted that CBP has hardly brough any cases before the McAllen Federal Court in the first place. “It’s almost like they’re using cartel tactics,” said Ricky Garza, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, in an article for The Monitor. “Holding people for longer and longer and releasing them all at once for political points; it’s like they’re running some sort of stash house on the U.S. side.” Imagine, a federal agency in the Trump administration employing cartel tactics to cultivate a manufactured crisis at the southern border, even going so far as to hold families in detention until they have enough helpless pawns to play their game. Where have we seen this move before?

_Like (broken) clockwork. Just as expected, our broken-clock President vetoed Congress’ move to exercise the power of the purse in an effort to stop him from calling a fake national emergency to siphon funds for more border militarization. All in a day’s work for our aspiring-despot, no? Not so fast Trumptator, Congress still has a few tricks up its sleeve (and so do we): Congressional leaders are looking at other strategies for pushback, including the difficult, but entirely-within-the-realm-of-possibilities override of the veto. "Any veto override is difficult, but we keep fighting. Both chambers of Congress — one Republican and one Democrat — are on record to terminate the President's emergency declaration," said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), in The Hill. Even if the override fails, Congress in setting its intention, and stating that the President has acted outside of the bounds of his powers within the Constitution, could be helpful to those challenging Trump’s despotic overreach in other ways, like through the court of law. As you may know, SBCC, along with the ACLU and the Sierra Club, has sued the Trump administration to fight his fake national emergency, so, needless to say, we’ll be watching. Onward.

_The rest is up to you. You’ve made calls, sent emails, and tagged your Senators on social media to reject Trump’s #FakeEmergency. We thank you for that, and we ask you to do it again. Remember, this a marathon, not a sprint. Your Senators need to hear from you, the need to know that we the people want them to exercise Congress’ constitutional power to check this president. We need a federal budget that reflects our values of hope, fairness, and opportunity, not a budget that enables a would-be tyrannical president. We need to invest in good governance that is accountable to voters and strengthens, not weakens, our democracy. Let’s #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 [email protected], by Wednesday COB.

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