The 'tale' that wagged the dog

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_So, 221 Democratic House Congressional members have co-sponsored the H.R. 6 Dream and Promise Act; isn’t it time for House Republicans to support families staying together?

_When a 9-year-old U.S. citizen girl was held for more than 30 hours at a port of entry in California, it reminded us about the everyday interactions we face with CBP and how they must be held accountable for criminalizing anyone they want.

_We'd be okay with interior Border Patrol checkpoints being shut down forever, since they don’t work and force border communities to face racial profiling and abuse while going about our daily lives.

_These two investigative reports put a human face on who is coming to the U.S.-Mexico border, and why.

_In case you forgot, families keep our communities strong, which is why we must protect our family-based immigration system.


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_The “tale” that wagged the dog. Trump’s policies have created a humanitarian crisis beyond belief, and everything he does is another chapter in a tale of layered fiction created to justify more anti-immigrant policies, a harmful border wall and further border militarization. So far, we have been witness to family separations, tear-gassings of women and toddlers, illegal rejections of asylum seekers at the ports of entry and forcing folks to wait in Mexico for asylum hearings, and intentional overcrowding of CBP and ICE facilities via longer detentions followed by sudden en masse releases into border communities. This week, the Trump administration added another layer of deception by shutting down checkpoints in West Texas and New Mexico, caging hundreds of migrant parents and children under a bridge as a horrible, fear-mongering visual prop, and sending 750 port-of-entry officers from other sectors to the El Paso sector to help. Wait, did we just write that? Shouldn’t it be the other way around and instead CBP should send Border Patrol agents to staff ports of entry to create an orderly and humane processing of asylum seekers so that desperate families aren’t trying to cross between ports of entry? Clearly the administration only knows how to exacerbate the problem. So, it didn’t really surprise us either when this tale-wag-the-dog orchestration led to a plea for more resources for CBP, an agency that already has a bloated budget. (Just this week, the administration reprogrammed $1 billion of Pentagon funding for military personnel so Trump could get more wall.)  Meanwhile, the Trump administration is slow-walking aid (a mere $627 million allocated by Congress in FY18) to the Northern Triangle countries in Central America from which folks are coming. Let’s be clear, a wall and more detention facilities will not stop people from coming. We need a bolder border vision that reforms our immigration policies and stops using people who are fleeing violence or poverty as pawns to enact racist policies.

_The beauty of community. In border towns from San Diego, CA, to Brownsville, TX, hundreds of volunteers are turning up to help local non-profits and groups of faith to receive migrants and asylum seekers who are being released by ICE or CBP. Volunteers help with health screenings, transportation arrangements to their sponsors around the United States, provide emotional support, and literally feed and clothe them. Our very own Christina Patiño Houle of the Rio Grande Equal Voice Network notes that “this is the moment we see the beauty of the community.” Heartwarming examples abound. In Tucson, University of Arizona health care practitioners, who are also members of a local Jewish synagogue, join hundreds of other volunteers by providing health screenings at a former Benedictine Monastery that has been converted into a “hospitality center” for released migrants and asylum seekers. Nursing students in Las Cruces, NM, also perform health screenings at shelters, and groups of faith respond in El Paso. In San Diego, a rapid response system is providing all of this and more to folks showing up there. That’s the story we should be talking about!

_More are coming. Oh, and BTW, more asylum seekers may be coming, as noted in this story that quotes SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Services Committee. This all really begs the question about the effectiveness (or humanity) of the Trump administration’s so-called deterrence policies and whether or not we should try a different approach. And, guess what? A majority of voters agree that we should treat arriving families like we would want our own loved ones to be treated. According to a recent poll by Change Research, 70 percent of voters agree that people fleeing persecution should be able to seek asylum. It’s the right thing to do.

_We’re not going to give up. The House failed, 248-181, to override the President’s veto of the Castro resolution, which passed both congressional chambers and would have terminated Trump’s fake national emergency. But this doesn’t mean our fight is over. Under the National Emergencies Act, Congress can bring up a resolution to terminate a national emergency every six months. So there’s that to look forward to. And we are also fighting it in the courts. See our statement here. Pa’lante!

_Not one more centavo. The American public deserves the truth and transparency about a manufactured and harmful humanitarian crisis and to recognize it as a ploy to get more taxpayer dollars to fund Trump’s deportation force. Call your congressional members now and tell them to say no to any supplemental funding to CBP or to allow Trump to transfer military funds to build more miles of harmful and disastrous wall.


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.


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Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


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