Yay, Open Borders!

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_At a time when the future of immigration relief hangs in the balance for DACA recipients,TPS holders, farm workers and essential workers, SBCC steering committee member Dulce Garcia of Border Angels poignantly describes the human toll of this uncertainty, “We pay taxes, build the economy, and contribute to our communities during a pandemic . . . Every day that we live without a path to citizenship is a day filled with anxiety and fear.”

_We were frustrated by the seemingly minor slap on the wrist the DHS Office of the Inspector General gave CBP officials in response to uncovering that the agency targeted and harassed U.S. citizen attorneys, activists and journalists, including putting them on lookout lists, divulging personal information to Mexican officials in requests to deny their entry into Mexico, and then intentionally erasing these requests; CBP promised to clean up their act, but not a single officer was held accountable for these transgressions. 

_Every city council should do this on Indigenous Peoples’ Day: At the request of SBCC steering committee member Johana Bencomo of New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé), Diego Medina, a Piro-Manso-Tiwa tribe member, shared the history of indigenous tribes in the Mesilla Valley to the Las Cruces City Council in New Mexico.

_So we were pleased to learn that the Biden administration is cancelling all remaining border wall construction in Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley….but, but, we’re still not clear on how this jives with the levee wall construction (touted by CBP as “repairs”) that continue in South Texas (NPR reporter interviews our colleague Scott Nicol)

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_Yay, Open Borders! We are feeling encouraged about the administration’s recent announcement that people from Mexico and Canada_who have been vaccinated against COVID_soon will be allowed to enter our communities via our southern and northern ports of entry. The opening of the border (apologies for the pun using a tired political dog whistle) is super welcomed by border-wide cross-border families and U.S. businesses alike, like in BrownsvilleLaredoEl PasoTucsonNogales, and San Diego. Border communities are rejoicing in the long overdue opening after 19 long months of being denied the ability to cross the border to shop, visit families and friends, and go to doctor or dentist appointments. We are only beginning to understand the full impacts of the border closures, but know that it has taken a severe toll on U.S. businesses in border states who rely on Mexican shoppers_many businesses had to close their doors. It’s estimated that businesses in southern border states lost more than $20 billion since March 2020 because Mexicans stopped crossing to shop. Many businesses are appreciative of the timing of the opening: right before the holiday shopping season begins. Time to Build Back Border Better! (Now, say that five times fast)

_Border “Roots.” To understand the history of our nation’s immigration and border policies it is important to recognize their root origins in racism and xenophobia. For a glaring and fairly recent example, just look at the order of magnitude between the immigration enforcement policies, resources, and practices at the U.S.-Mexico border versus the U.S.-Canada border. Need we say more? . . . Yes, a lot more. During National Week of Action for Black Migrants, Oct. 11 through 17,  we urge our readers to recognize and learn more about how deep-seated racism has resulted in dangerous oppressive policies that harm not just Black and Brown communities, but also Black and Brown immigrant communities. There is plenty of reading material out there, starting with this interview of Reece Jones, author of White Borders: The History of Race and Immigration in the United States from Chinese Exclusion to the Border Wall. For a recent country-specific example, read this NYT guest essay that describes the long history of discrimination against Haitian refugees and Trump’s efforts to completely eviscerate our nation’s asylum laws. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have contributed to a long legacy of policies that fomented violence and instability in Haiti. A contemporary case in point is how the Biden administration continues to weaponize a public health law (aka, Title 42) to quickly expel Haitians without any due process, resulting in the expulsion of nearly 8,000 Haitian children, adults and families from the United States on more than 70 flights in less than a month (i.e.,  between Sept. 19 and Oct. 14).  At least two senior staff members have resigned in response: State Department Senior Adviser Harold Koh and U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote. This is partly why we joined more than 40 civil rights leaders on a letter asking President Biden to stop expelling Haitians and to also stop inflicting cruel policies on Black, Brown, and Indigenous immigrant communities. May 2022 will mark the 140th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Don’t you think It’s high time to shift the paradigm away from a racist, punitive immigration system to one that strengthens our culture and economyIt’s time for a #NewBorderVision.

_”Dumb” Border Wall. Let’s be crystal clear about this, there is no such thing as a “smart” border wall that replaces a physical barrier with techy toys rife with invasive and persistent surveillance that lays waste to our privacy. Don’t buy it. Surveillance technologies still destroy the biodiversity of the borderlands, continue to make border industrial corporations stinking rich, and funnel people to horrible deaths as they cross in more remote dangerous regions of the border to avoid detection. Making these technologies seem innocuous is how we’ve become accustomed to using our face and fingerprints to unlock our smartphones, as noted by SBCC steering committee member Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee in this article that illustrates how “smart” walls are even more invasive to borderland communities than an “iron” wall. For more information about this, please read this recent report_endorsed by SBCC_released by the Immigrant Defense Project. We should instead be investing our taxpayer dollars into initiatives that #RevitalizeNotMilitarize our border communities. 


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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