_Former Border Patrol Agent and SBCC Ambassador Jenn Budd warns about the dangers of expanding expedited removals nationwide and how Trump went from questioning the citizenship of a sitting president to challenging the citizenship of people of color.
_SBCC co-chair Johana Bencomo of NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé notes the potential due process violations by the failure to provide timely translators for migrants speaking 35 different indigenous languages in federal court prosecutions for entering without inspection in search of safety and a better life in the United States.
_SBCC steering committee member Amanda Munro of Southwest Environmental Center notes how border walls “threaten both people and wildlife,” when interviewed about “Ay Mariposa,” a new documentary film that highlights two women and a rare community of butterflies standing on the front lines in a battle against the US-Mexico border wall.
_Active-duty troops monitoring migrants in detention? That comes dangerously close to violating a 140-year old federal law.
_A border wall through the Tohono O’odham Nation would pose grave harm to this bi-national tribe in Arizona, profoundly interfering with a sacred religious pilgrimage.
_Don’t look away. Tune in to “America Speaks Out: Stop Trump’s Cruel Treatment of Children at the Border,” a hearing held by Senate Democrats this week that includes testimony from health professionals and legal experts who have witnessed firsthand the cruel and horrific conditions of Border Patrol custody on the southern border. On the panel of experts were Sheroes Amy Cohen, MD, child psychiatrist and member of the Physicians for Human Rights Asylum Network, Hope Frye, legal expert and Executive Director of Project Lifeline, Imelda Maynard, border community resident and Senior Attorney at Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, and Michelle Brané, policy expert at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC). They not only spoke about the culture of impunity and “sadism” that exists in how our government is treating children, they also offered solutions, like those described by WRC in their report about the highly successful Family Case Management Program and other alternatives to detention. On a related note, an autopsy report released regarding the death of 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez while in Border Patrol custody offered “jarring” details on how the agency failed to provide timely medical care. Please #Don’tLookAway
_August rush. There’s been a flurry of bills and congressional hearings, particularly on the House side, as Representatives get ready for August recess, July 26 through September 8. The Senate still has one more week to go, when they leave for recess, Aug. 2. A bill that passed the House this week was H.R. 3239, the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act, which would require CBP to provide initial health screenings (to prevent further deaths); adequate food, water and access to showers and hygienic products; and access to short-term custody facilities to congressional members, among other things. A sister bill is being introduced in the upper chamber by Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, and Sherrod Brown. Let’s make sure it gets some traction. A question that begs to be asked, however, is whether or not setting new standards will actually solve the problem at CBP as the agency is notorious for disregarding standards and skirting attempts at oversight. No question, any new policy needs super strong provisions to ensure accountability and transparency. This issue seems even more relevant after Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost’s provided testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations this week and repeatedly stated that Border Patrol agents don’t want or need the job of taking care of children and families. Hey, we couldn’t agree more. We need to re-think borders and put in place a best-practice border governance model that expands public safety, protects life and human rights, and is welcoming. New Border Vision any one?
_Crazy pants. Senator Lindsay Graham is looking again at introducing his “crazy pants” bill for a vote next Thursday that would increase the number of days a family can be held in detention together with their children from 20 to 100 days, undermining important protections for migrant children. The bill also would gut protections for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum from other countries that are not Canada and Mexico. Hard to believe this is where any one would focus their efforts to make a better world. Not.
_September storms brewing. This week, Senator Ron Johnson planned to introduce for markup in the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) the terribly misguided S.2162 - Securing America’s Border Act of 2019, which would require the hiring of 600 additional Border Patrol agents every year to meet President Trump’s arbitrary and harmful Executive Order 13767. In fact, the DHS Office of the Inspector General found that CBP lacked the analysis to justify the staffing increase called for in this executive order. Hiring more Border Patrol agents would fly in the face of good governance principles by mandating an arbitrary increase of personnel at an agency that has already more than doubled in size in the past 15 years. Border communities have witnessed firsthand the Border Patrol’s troubled track record of excessive force, racial profiling, sexual assault and misconduct. In the last year alone, at least seven children and adults have died while in Border Patrol’s custody, the agency is being investigated for sexual assault of migrant children and running over a migrant with a truck, and a Border Patrol agent has been arrested and charged with being a serial killer. We don’t need any more of this. What we need is more accountability and oversight measures for this out-of-control agency. At the start of the markup, Sen. Johnson thankfully announced that consideration of the bill would be postponed, but we know it won’t go away and it will be back in September. Sigh. In the meantime, it may be interesting to watch next Tuesday’s HSGAC hearing, “Unprecedented Migration at the U.S. Southern Border: What Is Required to Improve Conditions?,” July 30, 10 a.m. ET, which will offer testimonies from both the DHS acting inspector general and the CBP acting commissioner. The jury is still out…
_First they came for...Every single person is now at risk under Trump’s new policy that broadens expedited removals throughout the nation. Under this policy, ICE and CBP are being given even more extraordinary power to deport anyone they come in contact with who can't prove they were in the U.S. continuously for 2 years or more. No due process required. In fact, it could deny due process to at least 300,000 people. If you think U.S. citizens can’t caught up in this dragnet, think again. Read here the story of Francisco Erwin Galicia, a U.S. citizen, who spent 23 days in Border Patrol custody without even being able to take a shower. This is not an unusual story as can be witnessed by this poignant and profound interview of shero Linda Rivas, of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, who talks to a woman who had been held by Border Patrol for 29 days without being able to take a shower. Watch this interview to also get a firsthand view of the harmful effects of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols on women forced to wait in Mexico who fear for their lives there. Again, #Don’tLookAway. We need a #NewBorderVision.
_Stay tuned. This week_and despite minor protests on both sides of the aisle_Congress miraculously passed a bipartisan agreement on a two-year spending deal that seems likely to be signed by Trump. Agreeing on spending limits was the first step in the budgeting process for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which seems to have arrived at an impasse on the House side and hasn’t even been drafted on the Senate side. This makes us think that we’re most likely looking at a continuing resolution for the Fiscal 2020 federal budget for a period of time that is anyone’s guess. Now more than ever, it will be crucial to tell our congressional members that if a continuing resolution (CR) is passed, it should not allow any anomalies that increase DHS spending nor any exception apportionments that allow ICE to overspend. Congress should also provide guardrails on CBP spending at the border and humane improvements on conditions of confinement. Let’s #DefundHate.
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.