_SBCC policy advisor Jenny Johnson testified this week about the harms of the border wall at the Natural Resources Committee forum titled “Disastrous Impacts of President Trump’s Border Wall to Communities, the Environment and Wildlife.”
_SBCC steering committee member Christina Patiño-Houle of Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network welcomes the ruling by a New York federal court judge that stated that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was “unlawful” and must be removed; she added that the question has been used “as a weapon against the most disenfranchised communities in the U.S.”
_SBCC steering committee member Rosa Sanluis of Fuerza del Valle, Texas, joins millions of other domestic workers nationwide (in Spanish) to advocate for a National Bill of Rights for Domestic Workers in the border region and beyond.
_Physicians for Human Rights published “Zero Protection: How U.S. Border Enforcement Harms Migrant Safety and Health,” which documents the need to improve health assessments and medical attention to migrants, including children, in Border Patrol custody.
_None of the nine southern border congressional representatives support Trump’s vanity border wall; here’s an OpEd, written by newly elected Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) that illustrates why communities oppose the wall in the El Paso Border Patrol sector.
_The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! We don’t know about you, but we’re wondering what Vladimir Putin must be thinking about Trump’s partial government shutdown, since it’s has now been closed for the longest time ever. And Trump has painted himself into such a teeny, tiny corner, that no one can figure out how to help him save face so he can open up the government again. House Democrats have introduced and passed several permutations of spending bills to help out_and some Senate Republicans have advocated for an end to the shutdown_but Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked a vote on these bills three times in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, we learn about the continued oddities in the Trump-Putin relationship, where Trump is quick to strongly defend Putin and sooooo slow to say anything meaningful or heartfelt to the 800,000 federal employees he’s forced into indentured servitude over a stupid and highly ineffective wall. Like they said in the 1966 movie: “Emergency, emergency! Everybody to get from street!”
_The Losing Argument. Probably the most befuddling thing to Trump about his shutdown standoff is that the gridlock is not really working for him. A clear majority of voters oppose a U.S.-Mexico border wall, as well as a government shutdown over a wall. And a new poll shows that 57% of voters are going to vote against Trump in 2020, including some of his base, mostly over the shutdown; 54% blame Trump for the shutdown and only 31% blame Democrats. Trump must think these polls are rigged, because he refuses to alter course, wreaking further havoc on not only the lives of unpaid federal employees who are struggling to make ends meet, but also on the lives of people who rely on government services, like food safety inspections, air flight control, and airport security (not to mention his own secret service). A nose to spite his face?
_Lost childhood and more lies. We learned this week that thousands more children were separated from their parents than were originally thought during Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy (even before the policy was formally announced and after it was supposedly stopped) according to this new report issued by the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Further proof of the Trump administration’s intent to rip kids from their families to manufacture a border crisis was found in this memo written in December 2017 and shared by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who points out the lies DHS officials made when specifically asked about whether or not these policies existed. These secret policies were meant to generate public panic to leverage billions of dollars for a dumb and ineffective wall, more Border Patrol and ICE agents, and nearly 12,000 more immigration detention beds to feed a perennially starving private prison industry. Hear us now: Border skies are not falling.
_Jaguarundis and Chachalacas. Here is the biggest point missed in the Trump’s shutdown national debate: a wall_whether you call it steel slat fencing, physical barrier, levee wall, or concrete wall_represents an existing and future ecological disaster to border communities. As we write, hundreds of endangered and protected species_such as jaguarundis, ocelots and chachalacas_are at risk as bulldozers warm up their engines to plow throw wildlife refuges in the Texan Lower Rio Grande Valley. These walls also will slice through the National Butterfly Center, rip land away from private property owners on the U.S. side who have owned land near the Rio Grande for generations, and promote flooding that will put the lives of wildlife and people at risk. And for what? We’ve already experienced these harms with the 700 miles currently in place. Hundreds more miles of wall will worsen our quality of life and_in parts of the border that rely on ecotourism dollars_will deprive us of a source of income that brings more than $450 million a year into our local economy. Get why border communities don’t want a wall?
_Made for Hollywood video? Border Patrol recently released an overdramatic ‘civil unrest readiness exercise’ video they filmed early last December that had us scratching our heads for many reasons. One, many of the agents that participated in the video are now unpaid thanks to Trump’s shutdown, so maybe they also hoped the video would help for any movie extras casting calls(???). For another, the video supports our case about Trump’s manufactured crisis at the border: the perpetrators of so-called “civil unrest” are invisible (and thus imaginary), the exercise seems to exacerbate a traffic jam on the bridge (which is way too common of a problem affecting our local economy), and the video ends with a lot of smoke (and mirrors?).
_What can you do to help? It’s simple: contact your senators and tell them to tell Sen. McConnell to open the government without a bad deal or more harmful border wall, Border Patrol or ICE agents, or thousands more detention beds. Trump doesn’t need to sign a bill (it goes into law after 10 days) and if he vetoes it, it would require a 2/3rds majority to overturn. A manufactured border crisis and corresponding false solution should not be used against federal staff members who serve this country. We need to stand up against a model of governance that uses extorsion (see our joint statement here) to waste billions of taxpayers dollars that could be better spent shoring up our health care and improving our nation’s crumbling infrastructure (to name a few). #NoWallNoAgentsNoBeds #DefundHate
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 Vicki@alliancesd.org, by Wednesday COB.