The Southern Borders Communities Coalition has issued the following statement following the confirmation hearing of Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security by the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Pedro Rios, Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program in San Diego, and a member of the Southern Borders Communities Coalition, said the following:
“Gen. Kelly’s statements during his confirmation hearing in support of even more barriers and enforcement in the border region should alarm everyone who calls the borderlands home. History has shown us that an enforcement-first approach, particularly in the absence of effective oversight and accountability, jeopardizes the quality of life and civil rights of millions. We must remember that the border region as defined by the government extends 100 miles inland and includes thriving communities that are economic catalysts for the country. Border communities play an important role in our economy and are among the safest in the nation. Border residents, including DACA recipients, have significantly contributed to the diversity and vibrancy of these communities.
The border region is not a war zone where military-style enforcement takes precedent over the rights enshrined in the Constitution. The Border Patrol already acts as an occupying force and operates with minimal transparency and accountability. Simply empowering them with even more resources will only lead to more abuses, further widening the gap of mistrust between communities and law enforcement. Gen. Kelly touted his track record of working with human rights organizations in places like Iraq and Central America. If he becomes the head of the Department of Homeland Security, we expect that he would engage in a productive dialogue with civil society to address these pressing issues of human and civil rights abuses by border agents in our communities.”
The Southern Border Communities Coalition brings together more than 60 organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region. For more information, please visit www.southernborder.org.