_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee wrote this poignant OpEd describing how Border Patrol's use of concertina razor wire in new agency symbols, as well as in real life, lays bare the agency's militarized approach to the border region.
_SBCC steering committee member Verlon Jose is one of four tribal leaders who are launching Indigenous Baaja Ádaaní Al Son, a new statewide advocacy group that aims to increase civic engagement from more Indigenous voters in Arizona.
_The Biden administration issued a new rule on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that will go into effect Oct. 31 and will allow current DACA holders to apply for renewal. Unfortunately, this new rule does not make DACA available for first-time applicants, nor does it change eligibility requirements. The rule will also not protect the DACA program from potential elimination by a 5th Circuit Court judge (a ruling we expect any day now). We urge Congress to pass permanent legal protections for all undocumented.
_There has been a shift in demographics in migrants arriving to the U.S.-Mexico border: more and more people are coming from Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela (versus from Mexico or Northern Triangle countries).
_Heart-to-heart. Hey, peeps, we need to have a heart-to-heart convo about good versus evil, moral versus immoral, and hatred versus love. When listening to Biden’s “soul of the nation” prime-time address, we were struck by one sentence in particular: “political violence can never be an acceptable tool.” We couldn’t agree more. BUT, we see and understand those words from a different vantage point. Why? Because our border communities experience “political violence” daily at the hands of not just extremists, but from political candidates and pundits from both sides of the aisle. Our border communities have been militarized, weaponized, used to inspire fear to get out the vote, and manipulated to justify the savage killings and bludgeoning of our people — especially people of color — who are only seeking a better life for their families and children or borderlanders who simply want to live in peace.
Case in point, we recently witnessed political violence when two children — a 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl — drowned crossing the Rio Grande, while a 2-month-old boy who nearly drowned was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Children and infants, for crying out loud! We’re certain that Border Patrol will blame these deaths on smugglers, but we disagree. The ultimate cause of the majority of the deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border are a direct result of our nation’s decades-long “prevention through deterrence” policies and tactics grounded in the false and deadly premise that if the border was hardened and made more difficult to cross, fewer people would attempt the journey. Those who schemed up this strategy failed to understand the determination of people who seek a better life for their loved ones. #LoveIsStrongerThanHate.
_Historical connection to racial justice. While we’re speaking truth to power, we should uplift the connections between political violence against Black, indigenous and immigrant communities. In a nutshell, anti-people-of-color policies and practices have plagued this nation since way before the Declaration of Independence in 1776 — which, btw, was written by white men, mostly slaveholders, who simply had no awareness (or desire) to include indigenous communities, people of color, or women in their definition of freedom, even though it seemed so on paper.
Historians consider 1619, as the starting point to slavery in the United States when a privateer brought 20 enslaved Africans ashore in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Yes, that Jamestown. Slaves wouldn’t be freed until the 13th Amendment was ratified in 1865, but we all know that this freedom was only on paper. For example, the illustrious Ida B. Wells tracked 3,424 lynchings of Black people (including children) in 33 years (1889-1921), after the 13th Amendment had gone into effect. (Check out our own death map here.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. congress passed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first anti-immigration act enacted. Over time, and as white people in the U.S. felt threatened, Congress passed many more anti-immigration acts, like the Immigration Act of 1924, which folded in the Asian Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act that aimed to stop immigration from all of Asia and set quotas on the number of immigrants from the Eastern hemisphere. The Act also authorized the formation of the U.S. Border Patrol, although mounted watchmen of the U.S. Immigration Service had been in existence since 1904 to try to restrict Chinese immigrants from entering through the Southern Border.
These acts were prompted by an irrational and prejudicial fear that if people of color were allowed agency, it would negatively affect the agency of white men. And, if we’re honest, these were prompted by the insatiable thirst of white men to exploit people of color for their benefit.
These violent political acts based on irrational fears have been repeated time and again in policy and practices throughout the history of the United States and even under the guise of so-called “border security.” A year ago, we witnessed a horrendous example of both anti-immigrant and anti-Black actions when 15,000 Haitians fleeing environmental disasters and violence arrived in Del Rio, Texas. Instead of a humane response, the Biden administration forced them to wait in horrid conditions under a bridge without food and water and subjected them to racist violence at the hands of Border Patrol agents. More than 24,000 Haitians, including infants as young as 9 days old, were expelled back to Haiti, a country that is largely recognized as sinking into pandemonium.
DHS and the White House have skirted accountability for its racist violence at every turn. CBP conducted a sham investigation into Border Patrol abusive actions in Del Rio by not interviewing a single Haitian migrant. In addition, the Biden administration filed a motion to dismiss the federal class action lawsuit Haitian Bridge Alliance v. Biden which seeks justice for the Del Rio victims. Seriously, what shade of political violence is that?
border_lines is published every other 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.