_BREAKING NEWS: The Border Patrol is retaliating against our allies at No More Deaths (NMD) by surrounding, surveilling, and entering NMD’s humanitarian aid camp near Arivaca, Arizona_without a warrant_and detaining one person less than 24 hours after NMD publicly shared new documents obtained via a FOIA request that showed that the Border Patrol Union—a notoriously pro-Trump, anti-immigrant organization—pushed the agency to raid NMD’s humanitarian aid camp and clinic in 2017.
_We were grateful to learn that the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the investigative arm of the Organization of American States, found it has authority, over the objections of the Trump Administration, to decide a case involving the brutal beating death of San Diego resident Anastasio Hernández Rojas (¡presente!), by border agents that was covered up and never fully investigated; see media release here.
_SBCC ally Cynthia Pompa of the ACLU Border Rights Center wrote this poignant OpEd demanding a transparent and public investigation into the deadliest car crash in El Paso’s history that may have been the result of a Border Patrol high-speed chase_a tactic that many police departments have banned given its often-lethal consequences.
_Join our colleagues at the Kino Border Initiative who will bring together asylum seekers, people of faith, artists, local leaders, and other community members from both the U.S. and Mexico on August 6, 10 a.m. Pacific, to protest_virtually, via Facebook_the dismantling of the asylum process and to bear witness to the testimonies from asylum seekers, receive their claims, reflect, and take action to #SaveAsylum.
_Humpty Trumpty. . . sat on a wall and his wall had a great fall. The start of the week brought us yet another reminder that Mother Nature knows best with a video of construction workers watching as parts of Trump’s border wall falls over in a storm. Although the video posters incorrectly said it was Hurricane Hanna that tumbled the wall in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, we learned shortly thereafter that the video was taken of the wall falling as the result of a storm outside of Columbus, New Mexico and the footage was a month old. (Note: CBP’s release says it was near Deming, NM, but that’s nowhere near the border; we learned from partners on the ground that the wall section was closer to Columbus, NM). Still, lots of questions came up for us. Like, how many more taxpayer dollars were wasted on fixing it? And why should we waste billions of dollars on a lethal border wall that will be eventually destroyed by Mother Nature and cost taxpayers even more dollars in maintenance and remedial costs? This isn’t the first time Trump’s lethal border wall has fallen nor the first documented concerns of border wall construction not taking into account its vulnerability to Nature.
Meanwhile, we refuse to be wallflowers about the sped-up construction of this immoral and lethal atrocity in the backyards of our border communities. The Kumeyaay tribal members continue to protest border wall construction as it desecrates tribal lands and heritage sites. Hydrologists, ecologists and other scientists sounded the alarm that the construction of Trump’s vanity wall near Quitobaquito Spring is wreaking havoc on this last desert oasis in Arizona. Finally, a huge kudos goes out to our allies with Laredo’s No Border Wall Coalition who made this informative presentation about how misspent tax dollars on border wall construction could be better invested in the community instead, convincing the Laredo City Council to unanimously agree to a street mural proclaiming "DEFUND THE WALL." We hope to see this street art pop up all across border cities from San Diego, CA, to Brownsville, Texas.
_Trump’s constitutionality? We continue to challenge the constitutionality of Trump's attempt to trump the Constitution by deploying federal law enforcement agents in response to police brutality protests nationwide (story quotes Jenn Budd, former Border Patrol agent and SBCC ambassador). CBP has a long and sordid history of violence, racism, abuse and impunity in the border region (including this story about a CBP official who allegedly said “agents should beat that [disgusting and derogatory term Border Patrol has used for migrants] like a piñata until candy comes out.” Gross.) CBP should play no part in interfering with the freedom of expression rights of civilians, which has, so far, violated many constitutional rights. CBP has also violated privacy rights of protestors by surveilling their activity in a Big-Brother-kind of-way in places like Dayton, Ohio and at least another 15 cities nationwide. The Nation reports on how the federal response to protests goes well beyond Portland - and CBP played a huge role in surveillance and arrests of protesters. We need to put a stop to this.
_Taxpayer Dollars. It’s crazy that we have to remind folks that the Trump Administration is using our taxpayer dollars to fund his most hateful policies, including any emergency supplemental funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic. But, why does it seem that the true needs of communities_like health care, public health services, and K-12 education_are perennially lost by this Administration? This is why it was infuriating to learn that CBP provided notice that it was re-shuffling $169 million that Congress had appropriated for other priorities in FY20 to pay for a so-called “southern border surge.” What does that even mean? CBP apprehensions at the southern border have dropped to dramatically low levels (due in significant part to Trump’s cruel anti-asylum policies). Then we saw the release of the Senate Republican’s COVID-19 relief package_which differed dramatically from the House Democratic version_and alarmingly included $1.6 billion of additional funding to CBP, as well as a provision to backfill Pentagon programs that Trump had raided to pay for his lethal border wall campaign prop (clearly driven by political interests), including a $260 million for funding a military ship construction project in the home state of Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Our own investigation into CBP spending revealed that in just the last two months, nearly $1.3 million of taxpayer dollars have been misspent by CBP on non-lethal weapons, tear gas, flash bang rounds and gas masks to either quell police brutality protests or to supply police departments across the country. CBP’s entanglement with local police really gave us some pause. It should also give congressional members and the public great pause as spending proposals move forward in both the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations process and the COVID-19 emergency spending process. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize
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.