Gaping wound

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_Our deepest sympathies and condolences goes out to the family, colleagues, and friends of María Jiménez who passed away Wednesday night after a long struggle with cancer; she was one of the giants for immigrant and border rights advocacy (¡presente!).

_Tune in: Today, Yours Truly and our SBCC comadres, who are ace experts from the southern border region, will have an interesting_possibly controversial_conversation about the 2020 Elections and what lies ahead in 2021; watch it here.

_Right this very moment, Congress is deciding how much money ICE and CBP will get to jail, abuse and deport immigrants and militarize border communities in the coming year; please sign the petition to urge Congress to cut ICE and CBP budgets. #DefundHate #InvestInsteadinCommunities

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_Gaping wound. In the last half year, border communities have witnessed lethal border wall construction at break-neck speed that has trampled our most sacred sites, destroyed treasured wildlife refuges and torn beloved lands from private property owners along with cutting off their access to the Rio Grande river, leaving a deep, gaping wound through our borderlands. Tragically, we have seen this horror played out before, as explained by our colleague Scott Nicol. But Trump’s wall has been like pouring an enormous vat of salt into this wound. It has been, frankly, absolutely devastating (as our colleague Laiken Jordahl of the Center of Biological Diversity and Yours Truly note in this article). The breakneck speed at which the border wall is being built is also angering and frustrating landowners and local authorities. Most egregiously, border wall barriers have led to the death of at least 8,000 migrants who were intentionally forced to cross in more remote, dangerous areas of the borderlands because of the wall as part of CBP’s “prevention through deterrence” strategy, as noted by our border research manager, Gustavo López. It is imperative to not only stop border wall construction, but to tear the freakin’ thing down (do not heed the minority fringe that claims that doing so is a distraction). We are hopeful that the incoming Biden-Harris administration recognizes the harms to our community caused by the border wall, that they end all outstanding contracts (as even the Army Corp of Engineers publicly admits can be done) and that they close all eminent domain cases in South Texas (as noted by SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of the Texas Civil Rights Project). #TearTheWallDown

_Fake protection. Ever since the Trump administration started the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), aka Remain in Mexico, we knew that “protection’ was the farthest thing from what these people seeking protection would actually receive (i.e., fake news a la double-speak).  This is why we were intrigued by the new analysis of MPP as of last month released by the Strauss Center at the University of Texas-Austin. According to the best data available, there are still about 23,000 pending MPP cases in border cities as of November 2020. (CBP has returned more than 68,000 people to Mexico via the MPP -- but most of those cases were dismissed). The largest number of people waiting in MPP is on the El Paso Immigration Court docket (about 10,000). The demographics of pending MPP asylees also differed by city (for example, in the San Diego Immigration Court docket, most are from Central America but in El Paso a significant number are Cuban). A significant number of these pending cases are from new enrollments. From April to June, CBP began to send people back to Mexico under MPP (about 200 a month) but starting in September this number has shot up to about 1,000 a month. The report also has some insightful notes on the status and condition of asylum seekers in each Mexican city. Check out further breakdowns here. And, ICYMI, the folks at the Strauss Center also updated their report on “metering” (i.e.,the practice of putting people on lists before they can even approach a port-of-entry to apply for protection). We’re so looking forward to seeing these cruel programs end.

_Let’s talk COVID and the Border. Check out our Border Lens portal on COVID data, where we refreshed death and case data, as well as the latest county-level unemployment data. Highlights include:

  • As of Dec. 02, there have been 16,681 COVID-related deaths reported in the southern border region. Close to a million (842,217) people have been infected since March. (Nationally, its ~275,000 deaths and 14+ million infections).
  • Border counties with the highest deaths per capita continue to be in South Texas. The top are Kenedy (495 per 100,000 people), Brooks (352 per 100,000), and Maverick (296 per 100,000).
  • The national unemployment rate for October dropped to 6.9% (from 7.9% in September). The border average is still higher than national average (8.4%). Another way to look at this: 44 of 68 border counties have an unemployment rate higher than the national average. 
  • Counties with the highest unemployment levels are Imperial, CA (18.8%), Yuma, AZ (15.6%), and Starr, TX (15.4%). 

Hope this is helpful information for our advocates, border elected officials and other policymakers.


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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