_Trump’s Pandemic Priority: Painting the Border Wall Black (we simply couldn’t improve upon THAT headline!)
_Speaking of walls, while you weren’t looking, construction crews were blasting through the grand and majestic slopes of the Tinajas Altas Mountain range in Arizona as witnessed by SBCC ally Laiken Jordahl of the Center for Biological Diversity.
_SBCC ally and Douglas Mayor Robert Uribe and SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo talk about how safe border communities are while pushing back against the false narratives often pushed by the president, some local law enforcement, and the media.
_Pandemically hypocritical. It’s interesting to observe the blatant hypocrisy that has grown in nearly pandemic proportions by Border Patrol officials gloating about how their efforts to keep the U.S. public “safe” from the novel coronavirus by closing the border has resulted in a large drop in apprehension rates at the U.S.-Mexico border. But they ignore what has always been true_that migration flows have more to do with the economy and with dangers in home countries than with the enforcement regime. And turning back people who are still arriving without any due process is nothing to be proud of. Border authorities have expelled about 21,000 migrants from Mexico and Central America since March, supposedly for public health reasons, but with absolutely no concern for the wellbeing or safety of people expelled. Border officials claim that the policy of rapid expulsions of migrants, including asylum seekers, will remain in effect even as statewide re-openings take place. Well, that’s curious. If public health were truly a concern, then why are CBP port officials and Border Patrol agents at interior checkpoints not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)? (First story quotes SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative.) And why is the Trump administration still deploying thousands of construction workers to rural communities in our borderlands without requiring them to use PPE or to practice adequate social distancing and hygiene? And, why are we denying a green card to a doctor who has been practicing at the frontlines of the pandemic? Too many whys? Hypocrisy, we guess, must spring eternal in the Trump bosom during a global pandemic.
_Deadly Detention. We were saddened and angered to learn about the death of Salvadoran Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia, 57, (presente!) who, while in ICE custody at Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego, became the first known COVID-19 casualty. Run by Rotten2theCoreCivic, Otay Mesa Detention Center is the ICE facility with the highest number of detainees testing positive for COVID-19 (i.e., 133 at last count; click on “Confirmed Cases”). For weeks, we have joined our colleagues nationwide in demanding that people held in ICE or CBP custody be immediately released to family or community sponsors to avoid any deadly outbreaks that naturally occur in confined spaces, such as detention centers. ICE has released only a few detainees and_worse_has exacerbated the problem by engaging in constant transfers of individuals from one facility to another and by exporting the disease to other countries by deporting individuals who later tested positive for COVID-19. How can they sleep at night? Meanwhile, CBP has chosen to interpret “public health” measures to mean blocking and expelling people as quickly as possible. Again, how is the interest of protecting public health being served here?
_Immigrants are Essential. So while Congress passed the CARES stimulus package that helped workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and is considering another stimulus package, many immigrant families were left out. Just to be mean, the administration also decided to deny U.S. citizens relief checks if they file joint taxes with spouse using an ITIN number_because they can’t get a Social Security number as undocumented community members. As a result, many local entities have also considered or have provided stimulus initiatives. We couldn’t agree more with SBCC co-chair Johana Bencomo of New Mexico Comunidades en Accion y de Fé (CAFé) who said that immigrants_who represent many of our essential workers_should not be excluded from getting financial support during a global pandemic. In San Diego, SBCC steering committee member Lilian Serrano of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium explains that leaving immigrants unsupported puts all of us at risk, which is why the SDIRC established the Immigrant Relief Fund. A similar fund was established in Tucson, Arizona for worker members of the Southside Worker Center. Please consider giving!
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 Vicki@alliancesd.org, by Wednesday COB. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.