_After an announcement by Customs and Border Protection that the agency will start outfitting Border Patrol agents with body worn cameras, SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee explains that_while we have advocated for the use of these for several years as one tool that could help build greater oversight and accountability_the agency must be transparent about the policy agents will follow when using them (for example, when an agent will be required to turn them on or off, how the data gathered are store and shared, and whether or not videos about a critical incident will be shared with the public); the agency must ensure an accompanying policy adheres to best police practices, including strong civil rights and privacy protections.
_SBCC steering committee member Johana Bencomo of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) describes the challenges experienced by southern New Mexicans as the result of climate change_particularly the effects on the quality of life of communities of color.
_SBCC colleague Dulce Garcia of Border Angels shares the desperation that is forcing migrants stuck in northern Mexico to cross in more remote regions of the border_even when the desert heat has risen to as high as 120°F.
_SBCC steering committee member Roberto Lopez of the Texas Civil Rights Project denounces the Biden administration for continuing to build border wall in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and notes how calling these new physical structures “guardrails” is disingenuous because there is a 12-foot drop on one side and 6-foot bollard steel posts on top.
_Former Border Patrol agent and SBCC ambassador Jenn Budd exposes secret, internal investigative teams who are the first to arrive at a Border Patrol use-of-force incident and how this fact jeopardizes the integrity of these investigations_literally allowing agents to get away with murder.
_Vote-a-rama drama. If this week’s vote-a-rama for the Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act (i.e., the bipartisan infrastructure package, aka HR 3684, the INVEST in America Act) is a precursor of what we might see next week during a possible vote-a-rama for the budget reconciliation bill, we’re in for some major vote-a-rama drama. On our highlight reel this week was the defeat of an amendment to the infrastructure bill_introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson_that would have prohibited the cancellation of contracts for Trump’s lethal vanity border wall. Knowing how some elected officials are still obsessed with wasting taxpayer dollars to line the pockets of private border wall construction companies, we won’t be surprised if this amendment rears its ugly head again in the budget reconciliation vote-a-rama. We are collectively rolling our eyes, sigh. In fact, of the 447 amendments submitted for consideration in the Senate for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, only 24 have been brought up for a vote so far (we might see more amendments this weekend, when the Senate resumes its consideration of the infrastructure bill). Key senators on both sides of the aisle vowed to block the passage of any poison bill amendments because_let’s be real_it took a heck of a lot of bipartisan negotiating to get the infrastructure bill this far. But if the vote-a-rama starts next week on the budget resolution, there won’t be the same tacit agreement. Conventional wisdom is that the budget resolution will pass on party lines (as this requires only 50 votes for it to pass, not the usual filibuster 60). But, here also comes a few (perhaps unnecessary?) sleepless nights, mainly because there will be no limit to the number of amendments that can be introduced. And for opponents of the bill, each amendment is vying to be the most poisonous one of them all. Here’s hoping political dog whistles are ignored and that common sense prevails as this budget reconciliation bill contains something we’ve been fighting to achieve for years_a pathway to citizenship for millions. We’re urging Senators to just vote “no” on any amendments that would strip a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth, Temporary Protected Status holders, farm workers, and essential workers. We also urge “no” votes on any amendments that add any more border wall or barriers, more border enforcement resources to our already hyper-militarized communities, and more invasive surveillance technologies that don’t have adequate privacy protections and oversight. In short, please vote “no” on anti-immigrant amendments and on those that harm our border communities. We joined 212 organizations on this sign-on letter to Senate Democrats, asking them to pass much-needed immigration reform and to vote down harmful amendments. ¡Sí se puede!
_Cruel Title 42 renewed. Disappointingly, and despite making promises to end the Trump-Era Title 42 policy by July 31, the Biden administration has chosen to continue the policy, thus allowing border agents to expel migrants and people seeking safety—including their children—from the United States without a hearing before an immigration judge. This order reinforces the racist, dangerous narrative from Gov. Abbott, white supremacists, and other Trump cronies that people seeking safety are somehow a threat and puts vulnerable asylum seekers at risk. Enough kowtowing to fear mongering. Border communities, a broad coalition of Central and North American organizations, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and public health experts (including a recent report by Physicians for Human Rights) have shown that the use of Title 42 to expel migrants under the guise of public health is not only unjustified, but cruel and inhumane. It’s time to strip and lay bare the false, scared-of-our-own shadows actions. We’re better than this. Our nation has the ability, resources, and capacity to process people seeking safety at our borders in a way that fulfills our legal obligations and safeguards public health for all. The administration should better coordinate with local non-governmental organizations and stand strongly and courageously for the core values of our nation. We cannot continue to violently expel people fleeing violence back into violence. Big kudos to the ACLU, who, as the result of this announcement, are renewing their suit against the Biden administration for their continued use of Title 42. Who would have thunk that Biden would be defending a Trump-era policy?
_Wall for thought. SBCC has tracked for many years how a border wall is lethal because it funnels people to cross in more remote and dangerous regions of the borderlands, exposing them to deaths by dehydration and exposure. This action continues and we now have another reason to shine a light on this humanitarian crisis. We looked at the number of serious injuries and deaths of people falling from the 18- to 30-foot Trumpian walls and learned, alarmingly, that more people are sustaining serious injuries and dying from falls. According to our analysis of media coverage and review of CBP press releases, there have been at least 12 deaths caused by falls from the border wall in 2020 and 2021, three times the total from 2012 to 2019. #TearTheWallDown
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.