_SBCC steering committee member Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center and SBCC ally Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biological Diversity describe the harms to the environment and wildlife caused by any type of physical barrier cutting through the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, one of the most diverse ecological regions of the nation.
_Federal prosecutors dropped charges against four No More Deaths humanitarian aid volunteers; but charges against one are still pending and sentencing for another four volunteers is set for March 1. Their crime? Putting food and water out in remote desert areas to prevent migrant deaths.
_SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative describes how asylum seekers are trapped in Nogales, Mexico, because of the bottleneck created by CBP officials.
_Fake-ity, Fake National Emergency. Trump is facing a bevy of lawsuits, including ours, after he declared a fake (and dangerous) national emergency to justify building his deadly and costly wall, but he is also facing a congressional resolution and nationwide protests. Bad poll numbers reflect this widespread opposition_and even suggest he might be losing his base. SBCC co-chair Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego spoke up and so did our other co-chair Johana Bencomo of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé). Yours truly also made a statement against Trump’s dangerous power grab and sham national emergency, along with SBCC steering committee members Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee and Christina Patiño Houle of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voices Network. We issued a full coalition statement about Trump’s abuse of power here. Even the Department of Defense asked DHS to justify the transfer of one-third of the Pentagon’s $11 billion budget appropriated by Congress for military construction to the building of a border wall. One thing is clear: Trump’s rhetoric on the need for more Border Security is total BS.
_A Real National Emergency: Continued Family Separations. We can think of a lot of real national emergencias, but this one strikes at the heart of who we are. The Texas Civil Rights Project published a report, The Real National Emergency: Zero Tolerance & the Continuing Horrors of Family Separation at the Border, that clearly demonstrates that children are continuing to be torn away from their parents as part of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy. Since June 2018_when a federal judge ordered the U.S. to stop separations and to reunite families_through mid-December 2018, the authors were able to identify 272 family separations, involving one or more children under 18, in the McAllen, Texas, area alone. This gives us pause as to how many more are happening along the entire border. One of the cases was that of Mario_who made headlines when his daughter was taken from him on July 7. “Mario is a Mam speaker from Guatemala with limited Spanish language skills, yet immigration agents failed to provide him an interpreter and, despite holding his daughter’s birth certificate, accused him of lying and falsifying his relationship with his daughter. The government attempted to discredit and vilify Mario every step of the way. He and his toddler were forced to wait more than three weeks for a DNA test that proved Mario was telling the truth all along.” No one disputes: families belong together.
_Wired for failure. The City of Tucson unanimously passed a resolution supporting the request made by the City of Nogales to remove concertina wire from the border wall bisecting their community. "To be frank, the raising of razor wire is repulsive and abhorrent and we should not stand for an affront to our communities as is happening right now," said Tucson Councilwoman Regina Romero. Meanwhile, the City of El Paso is also strongly reacting to concertina wire and other barriers being installed at their ports of entry. Speaking of wired, check out this story in the latest Wired magazine about the pitfalls of a so-called “smart wall.” No matter how you look at it, physical barriers, concertina wire, active-duty troops, and surveillance technologies, all promote a false narrative about border communities.
_Now what? Border and immigrant communities have endured the mischaracterization of our vibrant, binational, multicultural and indigenous roots and families for far too long. It’s time to shift away from allowing divide-and-conquer political rhetoric and tactics to rob our communities nationwide and the people who are fleeing violence and poverty of their basic rights, dignity, and humanity. If you agree, please speak out against these harms, call your legislators and demand a better vision or get involved at the local level by volunteering at one of the many shelters in U.S. border communities who are welcoming asylum seekers and helping them get home to their loved ones around the United States. Guaranteed: you will meet extraordinary human beings on both sides that represent a better reflection of this nation’s values.
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.