_Gotta admit, we weren’t surprised by a new DHS Inspector General report that shows how reckless CBP has been as they build Trump’s deadly wall, failing to consider anything as they rushed to erect the president's campaign prop that has exacerbated flooding, damaged fragile environments, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.
_In spite of the recklessness noted above, the Trump Administration just waived various laws to expedite construction of damaging roads supporting border wall construction in Starr County, Texas. (Here is a press statement issued by our colleagues at the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network).
_”Terrifying and painful” is how pediatricians described the heart-breaking deaths of Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, and Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8 (¡presente!) in Border Patrol custody during a hearing with the House Homeland Security Committee.
_Regrettably, a federal judge delayed an order to release children from family jails (aka, family detention centers), making it possible for immigration officials to hold them longer so the Trump Administration can come up with an even more insidious way to coerce parents into making the impossible choice of allowing their kids to be free alone or keeping them in detention longer_which misses the obvious choice that they should be released together.
_Wake-up call. We have been trying to wake people up to the fact that the U.S. Border Patrol has aspirations to become a national police force. Now it’s time to be woke. Border Patrol agents have been recorded in Portland suiting up in army camouflage fatigues and_in unmarked vans_arresting civilians for merely engaging in their right to peacefully protest or for wearing black. With a mandate from top leadership to escalate tensions and use force against protesters in Portland and other cities, CBP border agents and officers are taking their abusive practices across the nation in a move to normalize their presence beyond the southern or northern border regions and move closer towards becoming the national secretive police force they have long aspired to be. On July 11, one protester in Portland (where scores of DHS law enforcement personnel had been deployed, including CBP) was shot in the head and severely injured by an unknown federal officer, which prompted Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Portland area legislators Representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer to send this letter to the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice calling for an investigation into the shooting and the disproportionate use of force. We wish Donavan LaBella a speedy recovery and justice. We issued a joint press release with the Northern Borders Coalition, flagging our concerns. Giving us even more pause was Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf’s dismissive response to local leadership’s request that they stay inside federal buildings or leave. Really? His response illustrates no concept of basic de-escalation practices and will only make matters worse_ and far more deadly. Let’s not forget that CBP has designated itself as a “Security Agency,” which means they can hide from public view just about anything they do (a designation that ICE recently gave itself as well). The presence of CBP agents at these protests is part of the Trump Administration's effort to deploy border agents to cities like Portland, Seattle and Washington DC, which are located within the so-called 100-mile border enforcement zone that includes some of the nation’s largest cities_and, more importantly, where agents feel they have unlimited authority to do as they please without paying attention to constitutional protections. It follows the extraordinary move last month to deploy border agents to clamp down on George Floyd protesters with CBP predator drones, fully armed border agents, and snipers on rooftops. In February, the Border Patrol deployed its elite tactical unit BORTAC to sanctuary cities across the country as part of the Trump Administration’s persecution of immigrant communities. We need to put an immediate stop to this to protect the future of our democracy. #DefundHate
_Something? While only four CBP employees were fired after an internal investigation of 138 employees for “inappropriate social media activity,” it’s at least something. We were disgusted when we first saw that 9,500 current and former Border Patrol agents had joined a secretive Facebook page that contained sexist and anti-immigrant memes, laying bare a deeply entrenched culture of cruelty that permeates the agency. Another 38 were suspended without pay, 27 were disciplined with “reprimands or counseling,” 63 cases were found “unsubstantiated,” and 6 cases remain open, according to the Los Angeles Times article. Accountability is a rare bird in this agency. Hence the reason we view this story in a positive light. But, so much more accountability is needed. Can we now find similar accountability for the agents who engaged in excessive and deadly use of force? For starters, Anastasio Hernández Rojas, ¡presente! Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca, ¡presente! Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, ¡presente! Claudia Patricia Gómez Gónzalez, ¡presente!
_Good money. The House Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2021 Homeland Security funding bill after adding several good amendments during markup. We welcomed many provisions of the base bill, including no funding for additional Border Patrol agents, no funding for border wall construction, and the rescission of $1.37 billion appropriated for border wall construction in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Amendments approved during this week’s full committee markup would prohibit: (1) the removal of individuals who are eligible for DACA or Temporary Protected Status; (2) the use of funds to implement several of Trump’s anti-immigration policies, including the misnamed Migrant Protection Protocols; and (3) the use of funds for the incredibly anti-immigrant (and offensive) ICE “Citizen Academies.” Although the bill signaled a step in the right direction, there is far more to be done to curtail and hold ICE and CBP accountable given their track record of abuse, fiscal mismanagement, and harm inflicted on communities_as underscored by the “Squad” (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Ilhan Omar) in a recent statement. Starting the week of July 20, the House may put up for a floor vote several “minibus” bills that bundle the budgets of several agencies. It’s unclear if the Homeland Security bill will be brought to the House floor for a vote before the House and Senate break for an August recess. Kudos to the House appropriators for their hard work in putting together some great provisions in the Homeland Security spending bill. #RevitalizeNotMilitarize #NoBorderWall #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 [email protected], by Wednesday COB. The Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.