_Check out this blog from Yours Truly that mentions what border governance really means (i.e., transformative policies and practices versus lip service) and why we need to dump tried-and-failed, rights-violating border enforcement; the blog also addresses what Border Patrol’s role should be at the border (spoiler alert: extremely limited, if anything) and answers the question on whether or not our government should use more taxpayer dollars on a “virtual” border wall.
_Shortly after President Biden nominated Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead Customs and Border Protection, SBCC steering committee member Alba Jaramillo of the Arizona Justice for Our Neighbors (AZ-JFON) voiced her concerns, pointing out the lack of the police department’s transparency in the excessive use-of-force death of Carlos Ingram-Lopez (¡presente!).
_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee expresses frustration about President Biden’s initial announcement that the Administration would keep the annual U.S. refugee cap at the historically low number of 15,000; fortunately, after a lot of backlash from refugee rights advocates, Biden is re-thinking this number (as he should!).
_As part of the Defund Hate Campaign, which focuses on divesting from immigration enforcement and border militarization_and investing into true community needs_we pushed back against President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022’s “skinny” budget and urged the Administration to pivot to a transformative budget; please join us in making a better world.
_Please consider joining Witness at the Border for a Walk for the Children/Caminata por la Niñez in El Paso, Texas, on Friday, April 30, to call attention to unaccompanied children confined in U.S. custody who are seeking safety in the United States; register here. (Please note: the Walk for the Children will be held on Children's Day in Mexico (El Día Del Niño); April 30 also marks the 100th day of the Biden Administration.)
_The Real Real. In the last few weeks, too many anti-immigrant, seemingly heartless elected officials have jetted down to the border region only to use our communities as their performance backdrop to playact a supposed crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border (which apparently has been a cruel and intentional attempt by some elected officials to score political points). Border communities have been pushing back hard, trying to educate both visiting elected officials and the media on the real, real of what is happening in our own border backyards. Thankfully, some of the media has wisened up as can be seen by this recent informative ABC News report on how climate change is forcing people to migrate from Northern Central American countries. In spite of recent public polling showing strong support for pathways to citizenship, it’s been frustrating to see members of Congress_who know that immigration is a boon to our nation and that immigration reform is long overdue_become paralyzed, halting the initial progress made to get immigration reform initiatives for young immigrants, Temporary Protected Status holders, and essential workers to the finish line. It doesn’t have to be this way. We urge our elected officials and the media to dispel these provoked irrational fears and understand what is truly happening at our southern border, especially understanding what’s at stake and the need to not repeat the same mistakes we’ve made ad nauseum in the past decades, if not centuries. We find ourselves at a true crossroad: we can either choose to repeat the mistakes of the past or we can choose to create a new, transformative and humane way. Starting with a 101 on current border challenges, SBCC colleague Aaron Reichlin-Melnick from the American Immigration Council provides sound context for the numbers of people seeking safety at our southern border and pushes back on common misinterpretations. Our colleague Adriana Jasso from the American Friends Service Committee also writes how fear mongering simply needs to go away and, instead, we need to come together to develop real solutions. Yes, we (totally) can.
_Title 42 = public health hazard. Among our first recommendations to the Biden Administration is to stop using the false pretext of public health to rapidly expel people seeking safety back into Mexico or their country of origin by the misuse of a public health statute (known as Title 42). This use of this policy originated with the prior (and aggressively anti-immigrant) administration, but has still been continued, despite active opposition from many public health specialists. These expulsions have disproportionately affected Black immigrants_particularly Haitians_as the Biden Administration continues to rapidly expel them, including infants, back to extremely dangerous conditions. These expulsions have also left families who have been expelled with no other choice but to hand over their children alone to smugglers in the hopes of providing them safety and a better life. This is unacceptable and contrary to our nation’s values of preserving family unity. The fact that the Biden administration continues to misuse Title 42 to expel families and individuals has only served to increase family separations and has also contributed to the illusion of an increased number of apprehensions because Border Patrol will count people attempting to re-enter at least twice. We need to create a completely new, effective, and humane processing model at our borders that keeps families together and respects the dignity and humanity of people seeking safety. The misuse of Title 42 has also had a negative effect on the economy of border communities. Last, but definitely not least, the continued misuse of Title 42 by the Biden Administration is contributing to an increase in violent attacks (i.e., assault, rape and kidnappings) against expelled migrants in Mexico and to the deaths of migrants forced to cross in remote regions of the border. Enough. Continuing Title 42 is creating a public health hazard.
_Betray-Wall. Honestly, we don’t want to feel this betray-wall by the Biden Administration, but we have to name it. Our hearts felt collectively crushed when a federal judge granted the government ownership of a tract of land owned by the Cavazos family in South Texas on the Rio Grande_which was, btw, the main source of income for the family. Biden made campaign promises to dismiss these cases (he literally said, “End, end, end, stop, done, over. Not gonna do it. Withdraw the lawsuits. We're out."), which is why SBCC steering committee member Ricky Garza of the Texas Civil Rights Project expresses our communal sense of betrayal. Not only are private property owners feeling betrayed, but so are tribal members who expected Biden to come through on restoring the borderlands, honoring indigenous sovereignty, and tearing down the wall. At the very least, the Biden Administration needs to recognize the severe harms to our wildlife and borderlands caused by Trump’s vanity wall and to commit to remediating these harms. Continuing to act as if there is a need for a border wall, continues the great harms against immigrants and of white nationalism as is so eloquently noted in this opinion by the indefatigable author Jean Guerrero. We need a #NewBorderVision.
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.