_Right before we wrapped up this edition of border_lines we went live on Facebook to discuss this week’s developments around the deployment of border agents to Portland and other cities, which you can watch here!
_LATE BREAKING: Kudos to the ACLU of Oregon as a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting federal law enforcement officers, including border agents, from arresting journalists or legal observers during Portland protests, unless a crime has been committed.
_SBCC allies Cynthia Pompa and Shaw Drake of the ACLU Border Rights Center justly filed a public records request for traffic camera videos, photographs and documents related to a high-speed chase by Border Patrol that resulted in a horrific car crash that killed seven people_and injured three others_in El Paso, TX.
_Our colleagues at the National Immigrant Justice Center issued a report on the harms of criminalizing immigrants and urged Congress to repeal 8 U.S.C. sections 1325 and 1326, the laws that were created nearly a century ago by white supremacists to punish people for unauthorized entry and reentry.
_Two years after the Trump administration made family separation headline news, the crisis of children ripped from the arms of their parents tragically continues, per our colleagues at Kids In Need of Defense (KIND).
_Powder Keg. Trump’s deployment of hundreds of DHS officers and agents_including CBP and ICE_to cities nationwide to suppress protests and supposedly address high crimes is so problematic it could become a fuse that lights up more violent outcomes nationwide. As borderlanders, we have witnessed first-hand how the Border Patrol has consistently and systematically engaged in violations of constitutional protections that were put in place to protect us from, for example, illegal search and seizure (i.e, the Fourth Amendment). We mean, hello? Federal law enforcement should not be responding to protests on police brutality with a federal occupation force that only increases police brutality and who is apparently clueless about de-escalation techniques or the Constitution. No one has said it better than our very own ambassador Jenn Budd (former Senior Border Patrol and intelligence agent): “You need to remember that these border agents were willing to ban all Muslims even though that is illegal. They were willing to separate families of asylum seekers, even though that is illegal. They were willing to hold those families in their processing cells, in the same clothes for weeks, eating rotten food, with forty people to one toilet, while children died of dehydration and flu in their custody. These agents work in a limited Constitutional rights arena. They are not accustomed to enforcing laws on Americans with Constitutional rights. They are not peace officers, and they are our nation’s most violent federal law enforcement agents.” We have been sounding the alarm about Border Patrol, who were first deployed to Sanctuary Cities, then to George Floyd protests nationwide, then to ongoing First Amendment practices in Portland, where they grabbed people indiscriminately and threw them into unmarked vehicles, and who are now deployed to other cities (like Albuquerque and Chicago)_and often without the invitation of local elected officials or police. Even rank-and-file employees seem to be ashamed of these deployments (pobrecitos! why would they hold a different standard for what they do in Portland versus what they do in the border region?). Anywho, even former CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said that BORTAC’s activities in Portland are clearly out of their “wheelhouse.” We urge Congress to nip these actions in the bud and quickly, before it becomes much, much worse.
_Wall, wall, wall. We continue our fight against Trump’s vanity and destructive border wall (aka, lethal campaign prop), but we were also curious (to say the least) about some recent news threads. For example, after stories came out about a privately funded and built wall that was on the verge of collapsing, we were surprised to see that Trump disinherited any association with this group, which was echoed by a questioning WaPo editorial on how it’s hard to pin Trump’s border wall blunders on incompetence or corruption. (both are terrible) Even harder was to see a complete disregard of the Trump Administration on how prized national resources are being depleted because of border wall construction, how border wall construction is not even taken into account during the infamous Arizona monsoon season nor the effect it might have on northern Mexican communities, and how border wall construction has actually contributed to the spread of COVID-19. Adding insult to injury, the dangerous border wall has been built in a shoddy manner and has been built using an outdated model. What other reasons might one need to call for a complete halt to its construction, and, in fact, call for its tearing down? On that point, we just joined the ACLU and Sierra Club in filing a petition to SCOTUS asking them to lift the stay that allows border wall construction. Why? Because all lower courts have decided that transferring funds to build the border wall by the Trump administration was illegal.
_Child abuse. This story is so disturbing that we couldn’t think of a better way to describe it but as straight-up child abuse. Our colleagues at the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) alerted us to an AP exclusive report on unaccompanied children some as young as one years old_who were being detained by the Trump Administration in hotels across the U.S.-Mexico border. The AP report focuses on a Hampton Inn in McAllen, Texas. Our colleagues at TCRP were given a tip about this after a child they were representing was expelled alone without being instead sent to their mom in the United States. CBP seems to be clearly defying the Flores settlement or any due process requirements. What else is new? After demonstrating outside of the hotel, a TCRP attorney who was attempting to provide legal counsel to the detained children was violently expelled by “security” officials who unsurprisingly refused to identify what agency they were with. Once again, Trump is unlawfully using all its powers and resources_heavily misspending out taxpayer dollars_to gut long-standing U.S. asylum laws and international human rights obligations.
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.