Failed Priorities

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_Super congratulations to SBCC co-chair Johana Bencomo for being named the new executive director of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé).

_Food for thought: It turns out that thanks to Trump’s vanity border wall, U.S. private property owners could lose access to a total number of acres that is almost equal to the number of acres in the city of Washington, DC, (i.e., about 44,000 acres). 

_U.S. Border Patrol needs a transparent process in place instead of texting anonymous information to their staff about fellow agents testing positive for COVID-19 _ and needs a better way of informing the public

_This insightful article illustrates the world’s history on closing borders and why this is the least effective approach to stopping the spread of a pandemic.

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_Failed priorities. Global pandemics, like any life-threatening crisis, often offer the opportunity for reflection and pause. But they also shine a spotlight on misplaced or failed priorities, including those by government officials. Take for example, the continued construction of Trump’s now even more lethal border wall during a pandemic. Should a wall really be a priority? A wall promotes flooding and interferes with the natural migration patterns of endangered species. But, in the context of COVID-19, not only does a border wall do absolutely nothing to stop a virus, but ongoing construction contributes to the spread of the virus, further exacerbating this public health crisis. Wall construction itself defies some conventions on “social distancing” and threatens to contribute to the spread of the coronavirus throughout border communities. As our colleagues from the Texas Civil Rights Project noted, “In the last week, the federal government has filed new condemnations and a motion for immediate possession, arguing that they need access to landowners’ property urgently, to send surveyors and contractors to their house in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.” This is why we joined more than 100 organizations to ask for the immediate halt of border wall construction in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas (and everywhere else on the border). Our priorities should be to do everything possible to stop the spread of COVID-19.

_People first? It looks like the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide some urgently needed unemployment assistance and funding for medical care, but much of the additional coverage and funding for COVID-19 testing and treatment, and the stimulus checks, will not be available to millions of immigrants and their families. The Act, which is the third congressional supplemental package addressing COVID-19, passed the Senate & just passed the House today and, barring any major obstacle, could be on Trump’s desk for signature this weekend. Importantly, it does not include any funds to ICE or CBP to convert current detention facilities into quarantine camps at the border _ which would have proven to be a nightmare because of their long track record in providing inadequate medical attention. Also important, the bill includes restrictions on DHS’s ability to transfer and reprogram funds _ one of their favorite activities lately _  and prevents the Department of Defense from diverting funds for border wall construction on the southern border (see pages 645-646). Already, conversations about a fourth package have started. Let’s hope it prioritizes support for all hardworking people, regardless of their immigration status.

_Prioritizing boots over care. Even though border crossings on both the northern and southern borders have plummeted by 70 percent, the Trump administration has used the coronavirus as an excuse to continue militarizing borders. Canada is pushing back against the idea of having active-duty troops on the border. Deploying troops to any border would be a terrible use of taxpayer dollars and send the wrong message, as it has on the southern border. Enough with the senseless practices that do nothing to keep us safe and healthy.

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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. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.

 

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