Detention Death Trap

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_SBCC steering committee member Lilian Serrano of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium commented (second story) on the New Border Vision passed by the Vista Unified School District (yay!), urging other local entities to do the same. 

_Our colleagues at the American Friends Service Committeeexplain how U.S. private corporations who profit from foreign wars, also shamefully profit from militarizing our border communities.

_We couldn’t agree more with the ACLU of Arizona, who asked Border Patrol to stop immigration enforcement activities near health care facilities; the health of the entire community is at risk when any community member is afraid to seek COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

_A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium’s relief fund for immigrant families; in Arizona, please consider donating to Pronet, another grassroots fund established to help immigrant families_who were blocked from receiving stimulus checks because of their immigration status_pay rent, utilities and groceries (we’ll add more to this list as we learn about them).

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_Detention Death Trap. It was definitely not okay when we heard that the for-profit Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, Calif., has gained notoriety as the civil immigration detention facility with the largest number of detainees testing positive for COVID-19; at least 19 detained individuals and 8 staff with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Not only are the detention center’s operators, CoreCivic, failing to adhere to social distancing guidelines and creating a death trap, but guards reportedly pepper sprayed detainees who refused to sign liability waivers in exchange for facemasks and were not providing basic hygienic necessities such as soap or hand sanitizer. As of this writing, ICE has reported 105 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among immigrants in their custody in 26 detention centers nationwide. Making matters worse, ICE has deported at least 44 Guatemalans who tested positive for COVID-19, irresponsibly contributing to the spread of the virus in Central American countries. Detainees at Otay Mesa Detention Center_and elsewhere_should be immediately released into the community to be with their loved ones before these detention facilities become death camps. While ICE recently announced plans to release a few hundred detainees, that still leaves far too many people vulnerable. We want to thank Senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris from California for calling for an investigation into conditions at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, as well as California Attorney General Javier Becerra for demanding alternatives to detention to minimize the spread of COVID-19. #FreeThemAll

_Almighty Dollar. While the pro forma Congress continues to debate an interim supplemental package to replenish small business loans, negotiations over a fourth COVID-19 stimulus package and the Fiscal Year 2021 spending have been placed on hold until at least May 4, when Congress is tentatively slated to return to the Capitol. To ensure that the next COVID-19 stimulus package best protects, not harms, immigrant families and border communities , SBCC policy advisor Jenny Johnson joined NGO partners in a Defund Hate telebriefing that addressed the health disparities experienced by Latino and Black communities and presented our collective asks to Congress to divest from immigration enforcement and instead invest in the health and safety of immigrants and border communities in the next COVID-19 stimulus funding package. We hope congressional members take heed. 

_Basta! We are calling on the Trump administration to halt border wall construction to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not only is the Administration not listening, it just issued its 28th waiver to bulldoze right through another natural refuge in our beloved borderlands. A waiver basically means the Administration can ignore laws put in place by Congress to protect us from harm_such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act_in order to build Trump’s monstrous vanity wall. Trump’s administration is also ramping up eminent domain cases in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to rip land away from private property owners amid this global pandemic (story quotes SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project). Last week, border district Representatives Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ) and Filemon Vela (TX) were joined by House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson in a letter calling for an immediate halt to border wall construction to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. This week, House and Senate Democrats sent a bicameral letter, led by Texas border Rep. Henry Cuellar and New Mexico border Sen. Martin Heinrich, to the Trump administration calling for the halt to border wall construction as a public health measure in response to COVID-19. After overwhelming public pressure in New Mexico, the Columbus Mayor announced the closure of  “man camps” that had been built for out-of-state border wall construction workers (story quotes SBCC co-chair Johana Bencomo of Comunidades en Acción y de Fé). This small_but important_victory should be replicated border-wide. Our border communities need medical resources, not more wasteful and dangerous border wall construction! 


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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