Execution-style border policing

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_We’re eagerly anticipating Biden’s release of a detailed Fiscal Year 2022 budget at the end of next week (around Friday, May 28), and we hope the details reflect our calls for no wall and invasive border surveillance technology funding and significant cuts for immigration jails and border agents, as well as resources to repair and restore border communities and lands devastated by the border wall and militarization. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize 

_This inspirational human interest feature describes the journey of Ociel Mendoza, who crossed the border without proper authorization almost 40 years ago, and then_through hard work and successful businesses_purchased the land where he initially crossed into the U.S. (story quotes SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project).

_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee describes how families waiting in Northern Mexico are feeling desperate because the U.S.-Mexico border remains closed for those who are seeking safety in the United States; this desperation is forcing them to cross in more dangerous maritime regions.

_In late breaking news, the Administration announced_disappointingly_that the U.S.-Mexico and the U.S. Canada borders will remain closed to nonessential travel until Monday, June 21.

_Please join our colleagues at the ACLU of New Mexico, on Tuesday, May 25, at 5 p.m Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern for “A Discussion on a More Humane Approach at the Border,” a free, special event featuring speakers from the ACLU and partners who will discuss critical issues facing immigrants, including Title 42, and how we can chart a more humane path forward; register here

_For further edification, please consider joining our colleagues at Witness at the Border, on Thursday, June 3, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, for a discussion with author Aviva Chomsky about her new book, "Central America's Forgotten History,"  to better understand how U.S. policies and interventions are the driving forces behind the root causes that explain mass migration from Central America since the 1980s; register here.

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_Execution-style border policing. On Friday, May 14, Border Patrol agents opened fire and killed a San Diego resident, Silvestre Vargas Estrada (¡presente!), as he pulled into a gas station in Campo, California. Agents said they suspected Silvestre of smuggling the two passengers in his car. So they executed him. No judge, no jury. This tragedy marks the 123rd person who has died at the hands of border agents since 2010. During that time, no agent has been held accountable for excessive use-of-force deaths, in part because of faulty and inadequate investigations. Given the missteps of prior investigations by local law enforcement, Alliance San Diego (SBCC’s anchor organization) and the American Friends Service Committee (SBCC member organization) sent this letter to San Diego County Sheriff William Gore urging him and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to conduct an independent and thorough investigation of the incident, without the interference from Border Patrol that too often mars investigations. The letter outlined the critical steps necessary to protect the crime scene, the evidence, and the integrity of the investigation. Border Patrol is in dire need of accountability, oversight, and transparency. 

_Good First Steps. In the last week, President Biden has announced several policy changes that we think may be good news_or at least good first steps in the right direction. He announced plans to expand access to legal representation across civil legal and criminal arenas, including help for unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum. This announcement was followed by the Administration signaling that it was reviewing the use of Title 42_a public health statute that was misused by the prior administration to quickly and without due process expel people apprehended at the border back to Mexico_and that it is stopping lateral flights where a family apprehended at one end of the border is flown to another end of the border and quickly expelled. This is a good first step. But the use of this statute as an excuse to deny due process and force families into despair is completely unacceptable and needs to stop. Lives are at stake. The Administration also announced that it will close two troubled detention centers, the Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in North Dartmouth, MA, and the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. The announcement also included the termination of the Intergovernmental Services Agreement with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) and the 287(g) agreement with the BCSO. Immigrant jails, such as the Irwin County Detention Center, are known for abuse of migrants, medical neglect and inhumane conditions. So while these closures are a first good step, we urge the Administration to close all immigrant jails, especially the remaining nine on this list that are part of Detention Watch Network’s #FirstTen. #CommunitiesNotCages

_Seeing clearly. Put on your Border Lens so you can see clearly what our border communities are like by checking out our demographics, biodiversity, trade and economic benefits, as well as regular crossing data (that’s when, Pre-COVID, border communities crossed back and forth to visit family and friends, go shopping or go to medical appointments). Among the gems you’ll learn is that we’re 20 million strong, that we’re people from all over the world, that most of us were born in the United States, and that most of us speak English proficiently. Our border communities are diverse, multicultural and multilingual and our region is a place of hope, encounter and opportunity. It’s time to get to know us; it’s time for a #NewBorderVision.


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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