Why the caged child weeps - March 8, 2019 - border_lines

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_In what seems to be a page torn directly from “1984,” CBP began tracking immigration advocates and attorneys crossing at the San Diego port of entry; we’re wondering where else they’re doing this.

_SBCC steering committee member Christina Patiño Houle of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voices Network advocated for the release of children from shelters, particularly because “there is not sufficient infrastructure for transparency and accountability.”

_Thank you Rep. Nannette Barragán for making it crystal clear that she stands for children who have died in custody of border enforcement officials and against the Administration’s practice of violating domestic and international human rights laws on asylum.

_See Vogue’s beautiful photo essay on the aid workers of the borderlands_which features our very own steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative.


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_Why the caged child weeps. Our jaws were on the floor when DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied keeping children_who had been forcibly separated from their parents_in “cages,” during a hearing at the House Homeland Security this week. This prompted this line of questioning by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, “What does a chain-link fence enclosed into a chamber on a concrete floor represent to you? Is that a cage?” There is no arguing against the fact that children and infants should not be in the custody of border enforcement officials. Not only have we seen the tragic deaths of two Guatemalan children_Jakelin Caal Maquin,7, and Felipe Gómez Alonzo, 8, last December_but we continue to hear reports of detention facilities putting the lives of children (and adults) at risk by not having adequate health care services on site or nearby. CBP short-term detention facilities were simply not built to hold parents with their children, who are often placed in overcrowded cells with no place to sleep but on a cold concrete floor swaddled only by a thin mylar blanket, per a Flores monitoring report. Lights are on 24/7 and there is no privacy when using a toilet. And, while parents and children should not be held in these cells longer than 72 hours, many are kept longer. Thankfully, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), introduced a package of immigration bills to improve the care and treatment of children in immigration enforcement custody. But will it pass the Senate? And will it be enough?

_Asylum quagmire. We don’t get it. The United States is and has been persistently characterized as allegedly one of the top 10 strongest nation in the world. But you would never guess this by the way we treat people fleeing violence and poverty. Even though DHS Secretary Nielsen denied the agency was turning back people legally seeking asylum at southern ports of entry_a claim strongly challenged by Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA)_we are a nation that is violating our own and international laws on asylum. The latest violations are manifested through a program falsely labeled Migrant Protection Protocols, but better known as the Remain in Mexico program, which basically forces people from other countries seeking asylum at our borders to wait in Mexico for the duration of their hearings_which could take months or years. After a program pilot in San Diego, the administration has decided to expand the program to people apprehended between ports of entry, with a focus on Spanish speakers and people coming from Latin American countries. The point? From where we sit, it’s part of a combined set of bottleneck tactics implemented by this administration to literally create a surge of asylum seekers at our southern border, which would then feed into the anti-immigrant fear rhetoric, which then justifies spending gobs of money on a dangerous wall, hiring more enforcement agents, creating more detention space (including for families and children) and more border militarization. So, we’re really not surprised that the latest apprehensions numbers spiked to 66,450 people in February. This begs the question whether or not the administration’s tactics should instead be to conduct a true analysis of what’s going on at our borders. Haven’t the so-called solutions concocted by this administration only made the problem worse, with crueler consequences to people who are basically victims of poverty or violence? Root causes, anyone?

_Catching on to the real emergency. We couldn’t have done a better job than this article of describing the hyper militarization, violence and cruelty our communities have endured for decades, if not centuries. The author makes deliberate comparisons with powerful autocrats who garner power by vilifying victims of gratuitous violence in coliseums of old, partly as entertainment to a public that thrived on a frenzy of fear, but also makes them feel powerless. SBCC ally Robin Reineke of Colibri Center for Human Rights was quoted in the article. In another story that describes the xenophobia that feeds into the border fear narrative, SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams noted that “we see very high levels of stress, fear and anxiety among migrants. In one particular case, this one family from the state of Guerrero told us, ‘The cartels want to take our kids from us and we came here thinking that we were going to be safe only to see that the US government is also taking kids away’.”

_Senate squeeze time. The Senate will vote next week on a resolution that will terminate Trump’s fake national emergency, which he declared so he could dip into other congressionally approved funds to build his vanity wall. Please reach out to your senators and tell them to vote in favor of restoring the checks and balances that are integral to our democracy. The Senate needs to approve the Castro resolution to stop Trump’s autocratic power grab. Let’s make calls to call out the BS in the #FakeEmergency.


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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