Heartbreaking loss

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_Not gonna lie, we got a bit teary-eyed to see New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Lujan return to the Capitol after suffering a stroke last month. ¡Bienvenido!

_The danger of abusive and unaccountable federal agents who are not neutral fact finders and lack legal authority cannot be understated; these unlawful teams operating in our beloved borderlands must be abolished.

_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee connects a border closed to asylum seekers and people risking their lives in their search for safety. 

_SBCC co-chair Alba Jaramillo of Arizona Justice for Our Neighbors talks about doing human rights work through the arts and how this can both uplift the voices of migrants and reframe portrayals of our beloved borderlands.

_The erosion of asylum laws under the Trump administration could get catastrophically worse depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a case related to the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP, also known as Remain in Mexico.)

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_Heartbreaking loss. We were heartbroken to hear about the tragic fatal shooting of Carmelo Cruz Marcos (¡presente!), 32 — a Mexican father of three children — by a Border Patrol agent in southeastern Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 19 (story quotes SBCC steering committee members Alba Jaramillo of Arizona Justice for Our Neighbors and Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo).  This incident represents another needless loss of life resulting from a Border Patrol agent using excessive and lethal force. We are also deeply concerned by indications that the agents involved and the agency took immediate actions that may have obstructed the investigation and justice, underscoring our ongoing alarm about the integrity of misconduct investigations at Customs and Border Protection — the nation’s largest law enforcement agency. Initially,  the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) reported that a migrant was killed by a Border Patrol agent near Douglas, Arizona. The CCSO removed that statement from subsequent press releases, stating instead that the migrant was seriously injured and succumbed to his injuries. When asked about this change in the CCSO statement, “the public information officer explained that it had not been reviewed by the proper channels,” raising questions about the shift in narrative and if CBP influenced this change. The Pima County medical examiner made it clear that Carmelo died of multiple gunshot wounds fired by the border agent. CBP later issued a statement saying that the incident occurred while the Border Patrol agent was  “taking him into custody, discharged his firearm fatally wounding the migrant” and then — six days later — added in a news quote that Carmelo “was about to hurl a rock when the agent, fearing for his life, shot him.” Really? So predictable. Border agents have for a long time used “rocking” as a pretext to shoot someone without any evidence of actual rocking or imminent threat. The alleged rocks are often identified by the agent without any forensic verification that the person shot had touched the rock. Even if a rock was about to be hurled, it should be noted that there has not been a single recorded Border Patrol agent fatality from being hit by a rock. The number one cause of on-duty agent deaths is vehicle accidents. Carmelo is one of  hundreds of people who have died as a result and no one has been held accountable since SBCC began tracking deaths in 2010. And these deaths are just the cases we are able to learn about. Those killed include U.S. citizens, migrants, and border residents, and they include men, women, and children. In the nearly 100-year history of Border Patrol, not a single agent has ever been successfully prosecuted for killing someone while on duty. Ever. It’s long past time for the impunity to end, for the killings to stop, and for families, communities and victims to receive answers and justice (story, in Spanish, quotes SBCC steering committee member Gabriela Rodriguez Clark and Carmelo’s sister, Emelia). We call on the administration to turn the page on impunity once and for all by asking for a fully independent, transparent and publicly available investigation into Carmelo’s death. We Demand Justice.

_A contradiction in terms. U.S. immigration policy is not only in dire need of reform, it also stands in a multitude of contradictions that lay bare its racism.  Take for example, the recent decision — made in about a week’s time — to grant Ukranians living in the United States temporary protected status (TPS) for 18 months. Which is necessary given the circumstances, but what about people who are living in the United States and who fled conflicts in Cameroon, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mauritania, among other countries? Why do you suppose the U.S. is slow to provide TPS status to people from those countries? Could it be that we’re willing to open our arms quickly to people who are White Europeans but not so much if they are Black and brown people? Don’t answer that. Similarly, in Europe, we see governments creating processes for Ukrainians fleeing war, but who gets received and who is not is often determined by race and culture. C’mon folks. We know that migration is a human phenomenon and humans have been migrating since the beginning of time. We also know that migration ebbs and flows through our southern border are related to conflict and other push factors, like climate change, government exploitation, and poverty around the world. Our answer should be to create a humane, orderly and efficient process for people to present their claims. And we should be doing the same for all migrants and refugees. That's how we lead with our humanity and create well-functioning borders.  Yeah. We. Can.

_Not over the wall. Geez, some people simply cannot get over the border wall — even when it has been shown to be ineffective, costly and lethal. Furthermore, Trump's vanity project may have already created permanent environmental damage, exposing those who  care more about false political rhetoric than our precious wildlife or environment. Even Biden seems to have bought into this rhetoric as he continues to build a wall — and to consider building more miles of wall — as noted by SBCC allies Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project and Scott Nicol, environmental activist. Even crazier is that, despite the fact that Trump’s border wall has been breached more than 3,000 times (which puts a finer point on the colossal waste of taxpayer dollars), Congressional appropriators are still debating on whether or not to fund or rescind funding for border wall construction in the Fiscal Year 2022. C’mon, get over it.


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.


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