We’re walking in the shadow of history

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_SBCC steering committee members Lilian Serrano of Universidad Popular and Ian Seruelo of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), both in San Diego, and SBCC allies Patricia Mondragon of Alliance San Diego and Maria Chavez of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) - San Diego, commented on ways to improve a new no-cost legal representation initiative to migrants in removal proceedings in San Diego County.

_We’ve heard of private corporations lining their pockets by building anti-immigrant and harmful walls and detention centers, but SBCC steering committee member Bekah Hinojosa of the Sierra Club is pushing back against corporate colonization of our beloved borderlands and takes to task large corporations that exploit the borderlands in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

_And speaking of corporate colonization of our borderlands, SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee criticizes the contradictory action of California’s Governor Gavin Newsom in enlisting the help of a border wall construction company, SLSCO, to provide for increased health care personnel during the COVID-19 omicron spike in California.

_SBCC steering committee member Nia Rucker of ACLU of New Mexico expresses grave concerns about the potential violation of civil rights created by CBP’s dystopian plan to use “robo-dogs” in the U.S.-Mexico border. 

_SBCC steering committee member Dulce Garcia of Border Angels, strongly criticized City of Tijuana and Baja California state officials for forcefully evicting migrants, including families and children, from a encampment, an action that displaced people and “caused chaos, psychological and emotional trauma, loss of personal property, and widespread, unnecessary fear among the migrant population.”

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_We’re walking in the shadow of history. Nativist colonizers of the U.S.-Mexico border region have been around for a very, very long time. It’s old history. For example, this Time article shines a light on a more recent incarnation of this violent history, including the nativists and white supremacists who have inflicted violence in the U.S.-Mexico border region since the 1970s, starting with the Ku Klux Klan and continuing with several nativist groups including the Minutemen and the Arizona Border Recon. But that’s just the half of it. Ever since the early 1700s, white supremacists established “slave patrols”_starting in the Carolinas_to re-capture enslaved persons who had escaped and to quash uprisings of enslaved people. In the mid-1850s, these patrols were established in Texas because officials were concerned about the number of enslaved people  fleeing to Mexico. The patrols became the Texas Rangers, who committed horrific atrocities, including lethal violence, against enslaved Black people, Indians, Mexicans, and Mexican Americans. At the zenith of the Rangers’ homicidal and barbaric actions was the Porvenir massacre in 1918, which spurred a reform of the Texas Rangers. Disturbingly, many Texas Rangers joined (or were recruited by) the Border Patrol when it was established in 1924, just a few years after this massacre, carrying with them a legacy of anti-brown and anti-Black violenceNot surprising. Fast forward to today and there are overwhelming signs of systemic racism in the culture of Border Patrol_even from agents of color. What part of “systemic'' don't you get? When reflecting on the origins of Border Patrol, its continued use of racial profiling, and its culture of impunity, one can’t help but think the old saying: "Those who don`t know history are destined to repeat it (Edmund Burke).” We can be better than this, no?

_Bat guano. We really couldn’t believe CBP’s bat guano response to our exposure of Border Patrol shadow units that conduct investigations of themselves in use-of-force and other serious abuse cases. Seriously? As we noted in our last Border_Lines, this memo is an admission of guilt. As we continue to uncover the harms wrought by these shadow units and press for justice, here are five things you should know about these so-called Border Patrol Critical Incident teams (BPCITs)_known by many other names. Furthermore, here are some FAQs about why this response is more than bat guano, it’s bull guano.  Let’s clean this caca up and end these units permanently. 

_Wall Time Low. The Biden administration seems to have arrived at a “wall” time low as the Trumpian border barrier continues to be built under the guise of levee repairs and for (alleged) safety and life issues. As SBCC ally Scott Nicol sums it up, “[We] would like to think that the federal government will finally realize that border walls are a tremendous waste of money. They're nothing but political props. And we should stop building them and start tearing them down.” Couldn’t have said it better. But then we hear that the federal government is giving 1,757  “surplus” Trumpian bollard panels to Texas to help Governor Abbott build his own version of a lethal and useless vanity wallWhat’s that wall about? To date, the Texas governor has built a little over 1 mile of their wall with a goal to build 1.7 miles by Spring 2022. By now, people should know that walls wreak havoc and harm. They separate binational communities, threaten wildlife, and damage invaluable environmental resources. How will this nation gather its sanity and instead spend taxpayer dollars on things we really need, like ensuring folks get electricity during Texas’ now frigid winters, investing in better healthcare, and staffing K-12 schools? Seriously, wall things must pass. 

_Black Immigrants Matter. We know that our nation’s immigration and enforcement policies have a long legacy of anti-Black bias. We  stand with our Black-led organizational partners and allies in urging the Biden administration to address anti-Black immigration policies head on by, at a minimum: (1) offering Cameroonians, Mauritanians, and Ethiopians protection from deportation through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and (2) extending and redesignating TPS for South Sudan. As noted in this Human Rights Watch report, Cameroon is immersed in a profound humanitarian crisis and internal armed conflict marked by massive internal displacement, state-sponsored violence, war crimes, and critical water, food, housing and healthcare shortages. Mauritanians are experiencing serious human rights violations due to continued slavery, human trafficking, arbitrary arrest and more. And, for more than a year, Ethiopians have suffered increasing violence, ethnic cleansing, displacement, sexual violence, and famine conditions. These country conditions make safe return to Cameroon, Mauritania and Ethiopia impossible. The Biden administration must act immediately to extend protection from deportation to Cameroonians, Mauritanians and Ethiopians living in the United States. In addition, more than 150 organizations called on the Biden administration to extend and redesignate TPS for people from South Sudan living in the United States because the country is experiencing continued armed conflict, food insecurity, and flooding that has displaced 4.3 million people. This should not be a tall ask since last March, the Biden administration continued South Sudan’s national emergency declaration, citing  “widespread violence and atrocities, human rights abuses, use of child soldiers, attacks on peacekeepers.” And while they’re at it, the Biden administration should listen to the more than 100 congressional members who signed this letter to put a stop to Haitian deportations. Biden must use his executive authority to #Act4BlackImms.


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.


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