NOTE: Due to the 4th of July holiday, we will not be publishing an edition of border_lines next Friday, July 9th.
_SBCC steering committee member and DACA recipient Dulce Garcia of Border Angels speaks of the emotional toll and uncertainty created by Judge Hanen’s ruling that the DACA program is unlawful, thus blocking new applications; SBCC issued a statement urging Congress to respond by immediately passing immigration reform that provides relief to DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and essential workers.
_Tune into this compelling and hard-hitting video that features former Border Patrol Agent and SBCC ambassador Jenn Budd talking about the culture of corruption, abuse, and impunity that is deeply entrenched in the culture of Border Patrol.
_SBCC member Norma Herrera of Voces Unidas in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas questions the billions that the Biden Administration proposes spending on border surveillance technologies, especially when the communities have an urgent need for investments in health care services, K-12 education, flood mitigation infrastructure, and more.
_SBCC members Norma Herrera of Voces Unidas and Robert Lopez of Texas Civil Rights Project express deep concerns about continued border wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley.
_Texas-sized shams. Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues his abuse of border and immigrant communities via Texas-sized shams intentionally designed to create hysteria and galvanize his base to turn out for his 2022 re-election campaign. Over the last month, we’ve seen him take a page from Trump’s playbook by declaring a false emergency to deploy National Guard and state troopers to help guard the border, sending an overblown plea to other governors to send help (a plea made along with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey), and vowing to build a border wall along the Texas border with private and state government funds. So far, the result has been a 1.5-mile chain link fence. Interestingly, the border counties with the most unauthorized border crossings have refused to play along, forcing Abbott to revise his false emergency declaration. This week, we were also horrified to see that Texas state troopers are arresting migrants_without checking whether or not these migrants were seeking asylum_on state trespassing charges. Anything to make a splash, right? It’s shameful that Abbott funnelled state resources to deploy about 1,000_i.e, one fourth of all Texas state troopers_to border counties to conduct these arrests. In addition, he emptied out a prison to make room for jailing immigrants_most of whom, btw, are “guilty” of seeking safety, trying to reunite with their families in the United States, or simply trying to make a living. Can we just put an end to this madness? We need a New Border Vision.
_Bloated numbers. Abbott et al. are using falsely bloated apprehension data to justify the militarization of an already over-militarized border. The media too is taking the bait and getting it wrong. Let’s try to set the record straight. According to the most recent CBP data, 178,416 encounters with Border Patrol occurred in June 2021. This number included approximately 113,383 encounters with single adults, 50,015 encounters of individuals traveling with their families, and 15,018 encounters with unaccompanied children. The data also show that as of June (three months short of the end of fiscal year 2021), more than 1 million people have been “encountered” by Border Patrol, down from 1.6 million in the year 2000. A few things to note about these numbers:
- The number of apprehensions started to increase in spring of last year, when former President Trump instructed Border Patrol to use Title 42 to rapidly expel individuals under the guise of protecting the U.S. public from the spread of COVID;
- In the early 90s, when the size of the Border Patrol was smaller, agents caught an average of 27 people per month; today, when the Border Patrol is four times as large, agents encounter only about 7 people per month, on average.
- The vast majority (70%) of people encountered at the Southern Border under the Biden Administration are being expelled under Title 42, meaning fewer resources are being used to detain and process individuals.
- These numbers represent crossings, not individuals; even CBP admits that “encounter” figures often double or even triple count the same people. The number of unique encounters in June was roughly 123,838.
As Yours Truly notes in this article, these figures are only bound to grow if Border Patrol continues to triple and quadruple count these individuals. More alarming is that, due to the fact that Title 42 is forcing people to cross again in more remote regions of the border, the number of rescues and migrant remains found are on track to make fiscal year 2021 one of the deadliest years on record. Title 42 has got to go.
_A demand for transparency. We are hopeful to finally see a measure of DHS transparency as the result of Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) delay of the confirmation hearing of Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus for CBP commissioner until he gets answers to his questions on DHS's involvement in the Portland demonstrations. It appears that Wyden is resorting to this tactic in part because he hasn’t received a satisfactory response as to whether or not a federal officer who shot Donavan LaBella, 26, in the head with a less-than-lethal weapon, fracturing his skull, in Portland has been investigated or disciplined. LaBella has been in and out of the hospital receiving various treatments for the head injury, including the placement of a titanium plate in the front of his head. In June, LaBella’s attorneys sent a notification to the federal government that they intend to sue U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. LaBella’s experience was just one of almost 1,000 cases of police brutality registered between May and November 2020 during Black Lives Matter protests. According to The Guardian, these cases included:
- …”more than 500 of instances of police using less-lethal rounds, pepper spray and teargas;
- 60 incidents of officers using unlawful assembly to arrest protesters;
- 19 incidents of police being permissive to the far right and showing double standards when confronted with white supremacists;
- five attacks on medics;
- and 11 instances of kettling.”
A report issued by the DHS Office of the Inspector General in April concluded that the Department had the authority to send federal agents and officers to Portland, but did not properly prepare them or coordinate with other law enforcement agencies. The report also shows that of the 755 DHS officers deployed to Portland, more than half (54%) were CBP agents (70 from the Office of Field Operations and 337 from Border Patrol!); another 22% were ICE officers. We demand transparency as well.
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.