Impeaching the Gatekeeper

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_We thank Congresswoman Veronica Escobar for introducing the Homeland Security Improvement Act, which is a vital step to bring urgently needed transparency and accountability to DHS and hold CBP and ICE accountable for their actions.  

_For the second time this year, the U.S. Senate and House passed a resolution to terminate the fake-ity, fake national emergency proclaimed by President Trump in February that allows him to rob money from military families and troops to build his vanity wall; unfortunately, it failed to get a veto-proof majority. 

_SBCC member Michelle Serrano of the Rio Grande Equal Voice Network notes the importance of residents to register to vote to make their voices heard.

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_Impeaching the Gatekeeper. While many of the worst border policies we see today gained wide notoriety under the Trump administration — walls, abusive agents, checkpoints, detention and family separation — all of them found their inspiration in Operation Gatekeeper, which turns 25 years old on Tuesday, October 1. Gatekeeper’s walls first went up in San Diego in 1994 and then spread across the southern border, leaving a trail of death and destruction while laying the foundation for the cruel and inhumane border policies of today. Join us in observing the 25th anniversary of Operation Gatekeeper with a series of border-wide actions from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas that include vigils, roundtables and community testimonies. Southern border communities stand together in calling for a border governance model that expands public safety, protects life and human rights, and welcomes residents and newcomers. Because in order to get rid of the nasty, inhumane and cruel policies of today, we need to right the wrongs of the past, which got us here in the first place.

_Me-ism Diplomacy. We weren’t all that surprised to learn about Trump’s quid pro quo_ing with the new head of the Ukrainian state for personal  political gain, because we know that’s just how he rolls. This tactic is similar to when he directed the State Department to cancel aid to the Northern Triangle countries (namely Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador) to “punish” them for allowing their connationals to flee violence, poverty and drought and migrate to the United States. He then threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border, which, you know, would not be a terribly wise thing to do considering it would put a huge dent in our regional and national economy. So, then he threatened Mexico and Guatemala with tariffs instead (which, btw, have resulted in higher costs for American consumers). As a result of these coercive tactics, Honduras and El Salvador have tentatively agreed to accept asylum seekers that go through their countries first and Guatemala has tentatively agreed to become a safe third country for asylum seekers. (Note: none of these agreements have gone into effect yet and we hope they never do; talk about making things way worse.) And Mexico is now deploying National Guard troops to its southern and northern borders to stop migrants from arriving to the U.S. border. Mexico has also become complicit in the cruel “metering” and Remain in Mexico initiatives. Substantively, these coercive tactics may not seem germaine to the bullying diplomacy he used with the Ukraine, because it’s not immediately apparent how he used these for personal gain. But if you think about it, one of the reasons his administration has been implementing cruel and inhumane anti-immigrant policies is because that’s what they think will support Trump’s re-election, no? How is that not personal political gain? Now that’s a new definition of squid pro row. 

_Record-breaking abuses. It’s hard to keep track of all the human rights abuses committed by Trump’s clearly racist and anti-immigrant administration. It was a true double-take, however, when we learned that plain-clothed Border Patrol agents are now going into the family concentration camp in Dilley, Texas, to conduct credible fear interviews. Frankly, this is not only impersonating asylum officers (who have a much deeper and protection-first training), it’s also literally putting foxes in the hen house. And as if not enough horrible things are happening, DHS Acting Director Kevin McAleenan also announced this week that the U.S. will no longer accept asylum seekers who have crossed through other countries, including Mexico, before arriving to the United States, which just about excludes everyone unless they’re from Canada or Mexico. An invisible wall? Finally, it was announced that the administration would chop the asylum quota to an all-time low of 18,000. What?? Trump’s isolationist speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly this week made it clear that this administration feels that patriotism is worth more than globalism, something that to Trump means that all nations should just greedily take care of themselves and stop playing well together. Okay? Okay.

_Detestable border wall.  We couldn’t agree more with professional mountain climbers on their description of Trump’s vanity wall, when they pushed back against Trump’s laughable suggestion that professional mountain climbers had tested his new 30-foot border wall and found insurmountable. Of course, they didn’t do this. But more disturbing to us is that the administration is plowing ahead with an extremely deadly and inefficient border wall that not only wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but places the lives of migrants, borderlands residents and wildlife in harm’s way. Not only is the wall being built in the only place in our country that the organ pipe cactus grows, it is also bulldozing one of the most biologically diverse regions of the entire United States, as noted by SBCC steering committee member Amanda Munro of the Southwest Environmental Center. We know that construction will also desecrate sacred Native American sites. What will it take to stop this extraordinarily wasteful and damaging project (which will not be paid by Mexico, btw)? Or will we have to expect a wiser, next generation to tear it down?

_Budget woes. A “clean” continuing resolution has been passed by both the House and Senate and the conventional wisdom is that Trump will sign it to keep the government open after the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The continuing resolution will kick the Fiscal Year 2020 negotiations down the line until November 21, when it expires. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not the negotiations between the House’s version of the 2020 funding bill will triumph over the Senate’s version of the 2020 funding bill. The fundamental difference is that the Senate bill contains super-duper harmful provisions to our border communities, including increasing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s budget to $18.1 billion, a $3.2 billion increase over fiscal year 2019 to support more miles of border walls and the hiring of “Border Patrol technicians,” whose role is foggily defined and whose hiring appears to come with zero accountability or oversight measures. Imagine where else we could spend that dough, like on improving our national infrastructure, developing a world-class educational system, and providing a best-model health care system to our most vulnerable community members. Join us by advocating for a New Border Vision that demands public safety for all, the protection of life and human rights, and the creation of a welcoming system at our borders for newcomers and border residents.


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.


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