No Laughing Matter

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_Our hearts broke all over again when we saw recently released video footage showing the tragic death of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, 16; the videos not only clearly show that Border Patrol lied about what happened that ill-fated evening, but  four hours of video footage were inexplicably and ominously missing _ probably covering up even more lies

_About 150 people showed up on Nov. 25 in downtown Tucson to protest another insidious incarnation of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols in Southern Arizona, where asylum seekers are bused from Nogales and Tucson on a four-plus hour trip to Ciudad Juarez, and forced to wait there for their immigration hearings; the community will hold another protest on Monday, Dec 16, 4:30 p.m. Arizona time, at the Federal Building, 300 W Congress, Tucson.

_This new DHS Office of the Inspector General report illustrates how the Trump Administration had no system, training or_even_ the intention of returning children to their parents during or after the “Zero Tolerance” heyday. 

_This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, while in CBP custody. SBCC is joining Church World Service and other partners to honor her memory and call for justice for her and the six other children who died in U.S. custody this year_and to put an end to the devastating policies such as the “Remain in Mexico” and asylum bans on children and families_at a vigil on Monday, December 9, 5 p.m. Eastern in front of CBP Headquarters in Washington, DC.   

_The ACLU Border Rights Center along with SBCC and other partners released an updated report for 2019, “Death, Damage and Failure: Past, Present and Future Impacts of Walls on the U.S.-Mexico Border” which covers the current status of border wall funding and construction as well as what is at stake in the future.

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_No Laughing Matter.  After publishing the courageous and powerful words of SBCC ambassador and former Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd describing her rape by a fellow agent while she was in the Border Patrol Academy, Newsweek printed a new story about a so-called “Game of Smiles” that is no laughing matter. A challenging read, this story illustrates how top officials at CBP were familiar with conduct unbecoming of several male agents, but did absolutely nothing about it. The victim in this story, another Border Patrol agent, eventually gave up after years of waiting for justice. The story makes us wonder what other horrific acts have happened without any measure of accountability. This reality explains the U.S. Immigration Policy Center’s recent poll data that showed that the majority of voters in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas don’t believe Border Patrol officials will protect the rights of all people, nor keep border families safe. These voters_even in Texas_also believe that agents will not be held accountable for any abuses they commit. We need a #New Border Vision

_Designer Cruelty. Trump has become a master designer of profound cruelty for some of the world’s most vulnerable people and seems to relish adding thick toppings of human suffering. In short, Trump has completely turned his back to families fleeing violence and returned them smack dab into harm’s way. Don’t believe it? Human Rights First released this report that shows, among other harms, how Trump’s so-called Migrant Protection Protocols have resulted in at least 636 publicly reported cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, assault, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants returned to Mexico under this program. Furthermore, Trump’s latest assault on asylum seekers by deporting them to the so-called “safe third countries” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador not only doesn’t make sense but is also increasing the desperation of these families. It’s definitely Orwellian. Imagine being one of these families, struggling to get to the border of a country that promises to be just and fair, then being put on a list where you are forced to wait in Mexico before you can even ask for asylum, then once your number gets called up, you get to make a case in front of an asylum officer (or in some cases an ill-trained Border Patrol agent), then you are sent back to wait in Mexico until your court hearing, then you show up to the court hearing only to be told that you need to apply first in the first country you crossed before arriving to the U.S., so you’re deported back to the country next to the country you fled, which happens to have the same problems the country you fled had. Really? It’s no surprise to us that these families are becoming desperate enough to send children alone into the U.S. or to attempt other strategies to approach our ports of entry (as noted by SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative). The chain effect of this “rushing of ports” results in CBP shutting down lanes at the port entry, which, in turn, creates long wait lines at a time when our local economy relies on Mexican Holiday shoppers. Again, really? We for reals need a new border governance model that creates public safety for all, protects human rights, and creates a welcoming system for both residents and newcomers_including Holiday shoppers_ at our border. #NewBorderVision

_Humpty Trumpty’s Wall. As Congress continues to duke out the Fiscal Year 2020 federal budget_seeking to avoid another government shutdown over Humpty Trumpty’s wall after the current spending runs out Dec. 20_the Administration continues to plow ahead with building 100 miles of border wall in Arizona with money stolen from the military. Bulldozers have cleared land and started building a 30-foot bollard wall through Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. The all-out attack on our communities, sacred lands, wildlife, and water prompted the City of Tucson to vote on joining Pima County in filing an amicus brief to stop the construction of border wall in three Arizona precious nature preserves. Francisco Cantú, author and former Border Patrol agent, explains why Trumpty’s wall is so damaging and ineffective.  If you happen to be in Arizona, please consider joining a protest tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 7, at 3 p.m., in front of the Federal Building Plaza, 300 W. Congress St  in downtown Tucson. If you’re in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, please consider joining this silent sit-in against the wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Laredo, also tomorrow, Dec. 7, starting at 12:30 p.m. at the Tres Laredos Park.

_Yahoo Wall. Meanwhile in South Texas, the yahoo group that calls itself “We Build the Wall” is ignoring all manner of laws and even a judge’s temporary restraining order_probably as a way to emulate their beloved above-the-law Trump_to build three miles of an 18-foot tall bollard wall on the banks of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo in South Texas. Then_get this_the U.S. Government filed a suit on behalf of the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission requesting another temporary restraining order against We Build the Wall and three groups contracted by the group to build the wall: Fisher Industries, Fisher Sand and Gravel Co., and Neuhaus and Sons LLC. By the way, these contractors have committed numerous environmental, workplace and tax violations. We hope these yahoos start seeing the writing on the wall. Go away, already.


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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