_Cockamamie: We were not amused by the ridiculousness of the Trump Administration issuing a request for ideas to build a floating border wall in the middle of a body of water (i.e., in the middle of the Rio Grande or maybe in the Gulf of Mexico or in the San Diego ocean??) that allegedly would demarcate the line between the United States and Mexico.
_Three feet versus 30-feet verdict: any border wall height is damaging to the environment, wildlife, and our communities; consider the harms of this new wall being built on our northern, Canadian border.
_Check out these interesting findings about U.S. immigrants from the Pew Research Center, which says it is one of the most diverse populations in the world with just about every country represented.
_Swamp monsters. For all of the so-called promises four years ago of “draining the swamp,” Trump has instead created and enabled a bunch of swamp monsters. Let’s start with the breaking news that several of the “We Build the Wall” yahoos_who promised to privately build a “Lamborghini” version of Trump’s vanity wall and who instead built a section that is clearly in danger of failing down_were arrested for allegedly robbing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors. So, let’s review: a group of Trump’s acolytes raised funds to build his lethal and waste-of-taxpayer-money wall that doesn’t work and now, it turns out, they’re doing this to line their own pockets? Not surprised. And then you have the swamp monsters profiting from building the wall such as Fisher Industries, a company with a long history of criminal tax evasion, pollution citations, environmental fines, and a former CEO charged with child pornography. Talk about monsters. Compare that with the more than 100 No Border Wall Laredo Coalition members who raised funds and led volunteers to paint this beautiful street mural that truly speaks to the needs of the community, names the wall as a divisive campaign stunt, and asks the redirection of funds to better the lives of our communities and families. For example, instead of spending $560.5 million of taxpayer dollars to build 31 miles of border wall on private lands in South Texas, the cost of a single mile of wall could be used to build and operate a new trauma center for three years rather than airlift people to nearby cities for emergency treatment. One mile of border wall could also instead fund a $4,000 salary increase for all public school teachers in Webb and Zapata counties in Texas or provide full tuition for an associate’s degree at Laredo College for all graduating Laredo seniors for the next 10 years. (For a full report on where taxpayer dollars can better be spent in Laredo see “Fund Our Future”). Powerful and stark, no? We need more of this and less of the former, please. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize #NoBorderWall #DefundHate
_Wall v. Water. We learned in science class that at least 60 percent of our bodies are composed of water, so it should shock us that the Trump Administration could care less that the building of his lethal border wall_now at fast-breaking, ill-informed campaign-promise speed_is depleting our communities of life sustaining water. Our multiple desert oases are drying up, putting at risk not only the lives of endangered species but the lives of the people who live close by. If you’re not getting this, here’s a stark example of how the border wall is resulting in death (NOTE: this image may be disturbing to animal lovers). But, if you can stomach this image, also think of the Black and Brown people who have died in remote regions of our border thanks to our nation’s anti-immigrant, “prevention through deterrence” policies. Life should matter above anything else.
_Corruption nation. Last week, we learned that the Government Accountability Office (GAO)_in response to a request from Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security and other congressional members_had developed and released a legal analysis that showed that it was entirely possible that DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cucinelli were procedurally ineligible for their high-level appointments at the Department of Homeland Security. Naturally, what followed was us wondering whether the policies they had enacted were now valid. Key policies that seemed now challengeable were McAleenan’s negotiated agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras that contributed to a complete and cruel dismantling of the U.S. asylum system. In addition, the legality of several policies enacted by Chad Wolf now seem dubious, including how he deployed DHS law enforcement officers to subdue peaceful protests in DC and Portland (and elsewhere). Under his direction, federal officers under the guise of protecting federal property repeatedly used violent use-of-force tactics, including arresting protestors without probable cause. Wolf also waived procurement rules that protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse to speed up the construction of Trump’s dangerous border wall. Finally, several policies enacted by Cucinelli are now coming into question, including how he established a new rule in June 2020 that was designed to keep migrants from seeking asylum and how he approved a move to limit oversight of the DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis by constraining the role of the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in reviewing intelligence products (sumfin’ we reported in last week’s issue). Most appalling was the response to this legal analysis by DHS’s counsel, who unfortunately resorted to personal attacks (versus a standard and professional analysis of the actual legal claims). The GAO referred the report to DHS’s Office of the Inspector General. We’ll hope for the best and keep you posted.
_Deterrence = Death. We appreciate this NYT article that highlights how U.S. “prevention through deterrence” immigration enforcement policies have forced migrants to cross in dangerous locations and to their death. Trump’s cruel additions to this policy, including using a global pandemic to further shut down the border to asylum seekers, contributed to the recent death of Edwin Rodrigo (¡presente!) who was part of the thousands trapped in Mexico because of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols and living in a hell created by the Trump Administration's policies. We need to re-think borders to save lives.
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.