LATE-BREAKING: U.S. Customs and Border Protection finally released their investigation on potential misconduct on Sept. 19, 2021 of Border Patrol agents and Horse Patrol Units against Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas. We’ll wade through the 500+ page report and issue a statement on Monday.
_We join SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo in calling for justice and a thorough FBI investigation into the killing of Abigail Ramon Aguilar (¡presente!), 32, who was stabbed to death by a Border Patrol agent in Douglas, Arizona in May.
_SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee expresses frustration that President Biden has gone back on his campaign promise to border communities to not build “another foot” of border wall and instead is plowing ahead with construction of a new 30-foot border wall that will decimate the legacy of Friendship Park.
_SBCC steering committee member Dulce Garcia of Border Angels says that the U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s recent ruling on the “Remain in Mexico” program – which gives President Biden the green light to rescind this cruel, Trump-era program – “means that there is hope that [people seeking safety] can actually have their claim heard in front of an immigration judge while they remain in the U.S. side of the border rather than still in danger.”
_We look forward to collaborating with Arturo Aguila, the newly appointed executive director of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) and our newest SBCC steering committee.
_Two books to put at the top of your summer reading list: (1) Against the Wall: My Journey from Border Patrol Agent to Immigrant Rights Activist, by SBCC ambassador and former Senior Border Patrol agent Jenn Budd and (2) Nobody Is Protected: How the Border Patrol Became the Most Dangerous Police Force in the United States by Reece Jones.
_Super congratulations to SBCC co-chair Alba Jaramillo for her promotion to co-executive director at the National Justice for Our Neighbors; she remains in Tucson, Arizona and we look forward to our continued collaboration.
_Vibrant border v. Deadly border. Most of us who live in vibrant, southern border communities think of our region as a place of encounter, hope and opportunity. We treasure the region’s diversity, its natural beauty, and the triple benefit of being multicultural, multinational, and multilingual. In short, we love it here.
Unfortunately, for the last few decades, the millions who call the border region home have been subjected to increasingly irrational border policies that have over-militarized our communities, eroded our human and constitutional rights, subjected us to rampant racial profiling and over-policing. We are subjected to political rhetoric that maligns and misrepresents the contributions made by hard-working people living in our border communities. We are also subjected to inhumane border policies that essentially slam the doors at our ports of entry to families seeking safety, family reunification or a better life for their children. Border policies grounded in ‘prevention through deterrence’ and endless militarization have done nothing to make us safer. These policies intensify the suffering and deaths of women, men and children – especially those who are Black and Brown. This is why we were heartbroken to learn of the horrific deaths of 53 people, including teens, who had been crammed into an abandoned tractor trailer in San Antonio, Texas. The names, ages and country of origin of 22 of the 47 who have been conclusively identified were recently released by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. ¡Presente!
In a typical attention-seeking and cruel gesture, Texas Governor Abbott chose to politicize the moment and blame the deaths on President Biden’s so-called “open borders.” Malarkey. The truth is that what forced these people to their deaths were harsh border enforcement policies of “prevention through deterrence” and the Texas governor’s own misguided and cruel “Operation Lonestar.” Border Patrol tactics of “prevention through deterrence” have included building deadly 30-foot walls, forcing people to wait in northern Mexico for their court hearings in the United States, weaponizing a public health law, Title 42, to dump people quickly and without due process back into northern Mexico or to the countries from which they fled, and charging people criminally for unauthorized entry and reentry. What we know is true: thousands of people have died as the result of enforcement-only border policies that have been supported by both sides of the aisle. If we care more about the lives of people than political jockeying, this has to stop.
_Lies and political points. Contributing to the false and deadly narrative about our border communities are politicians_on both sides of the aisle_who are running mid-term election and re-election campaign ads and images that rely on fear-mongering and lies to score political points. Don’t use our communities as backdrops for your racism and hate. Texas Gov. Abbott, for example, recently expanded the authority of state police and National Guard to apprehend migrants and return them to the U.S.-Mexico border_a morally reprehensible and certainly illegal political stunt that fuels his dog-whistle laden narrative. In another example, Andy Biggs, a U.S. Representative from Arizona, visited Yuma in an attempt to fear-monger showing images of migrants waiting in long lines to request asylum, but our colleague Aaron Reichlin-Melnick from the American Immigration Council deftly breaks down the lie. Frustratingly, too many people believe this garbage. This is yet another example of how racism, fear-mongering and lies are used to manipulate voters, resulting in policies that cause great harm to real people and real lives. Certainly, we can be smarter and kinder than this. Our nation has the ability, resources, and capacity to create a new approach to our borders, one that processes people with dignity and humanity. Yes, we really can.
border_lines is published every other 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.