Honoring the Fallen: Demanding an End to U.S. Border Miltiarization
Thursday, May 20, 2010, marks the 520th consecutive week of a Thursday night community vigil organized by the Coalición de Derechos Humanos at El Tiradito shrine in Tucson, Arizona, to remember and honor the thousands of individuals who have perished on the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of U.S. militarization of immigration and border control.
In addition, May 20th marks the 13th year anniversary of the killing of 18-year old Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. by U.S. Marines in Redford, Texas as the young man tended the family's goats:
Join DH to commemorate the fallen on the 520th weekly vigil, a pledge to bear witness to the deadly border and its victims.
Called "prevention through deterrence," the U.S. government implemented the current border security and immigration control strategy in 1993 on the El Paso, TX-Ciudad Juárez sector of the border as "Operation Blockade." The strategy was then extended to the entire border in 1994, as Operation Gatekeeper in California, Operation Safeguard in Arizona and Operation Rio Grande in south Texas.
Implement routine programs of legalization that expand access to visas and provide access to permanent residency including future flows. Systematic legalization programs – recognizing human, labor, environmental, and civil rights – will ensure that migrants have options to unite with their families and avoid mortal danger.
End the deadly border enforcement strategies; instead protect the human rights and constitutional liberties of all immigrants and communities on the U.S.-Mexico border. This includes but is not limited to issuing sufficient visas so that all migrants that wish to can enter the country legally and safely and are not forced to choose between risking their lives crossing through the desert and mountains or subjecting themselves to inhumane violations of their rights and abuse just to reunite with their families and find work to survive.
Demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border and cease all enforcement policies, practices, measures, laws, and strategies that criminalize migrants forcing them into crossing through the most dangerous areas in the mountains and deserts where hundreds die every year. And, prevent the initiation of policies, laws, practices and measures to militarize the U.S.-Canada border;
Address the backlog and facilitate family reunification by increasing visas and more legal options allowing migrants to cross safely and not risk their lives at the hands of smugglers, unscrupulous employers, or immigration officials who act with impunity and jeopardize public safety;
Repeal draconian federal criminal laws that prosecute and incarcerate migrants for merely crossing the border without inspection.
End the deportation of permanent residents, including ending indefinite detention or its expansion, preserving due process rights and restoring access to the courts and meaningful judicial review for all immigrants.
Develop bi-lateral migration policies and practices that uphold the human rights of migrants, which are accountable to independent, civilian community-based monitoring and oversight;
Restore the civil rights, civil liberties and human rights of border communities and immigrants everywhere.
Grant unrestricted crossing rights for members of Indigenous nations and communities living on both sides of the border.
Enhance the safety of border communities and protect migrants by demilitarizing the borders, including tearing down the walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, and establishing accountability mechanisms for independent civilian and community-based monitoring and oversight;
Clearly and publicly declare its opposition to private vigilante groups and the hateful acts they perpetrate, and prosecute any criminal activity against immigrants and others;
Create an independent monitoring and accountability mechanism that directly engages impacted communities in holding the Department of Homeland Security accountable for its immigration enforcement and detention policies and initiatives;
Transfer federal spending from border militarization to genuine “border security” programs including health care, housing, education, living wages, social security and fair trade between communities straddling the border and other nations;
Stop collaborating with other countries targeting migrants for arrest and detention and cooperate with neighboring nations to implement economic and social policies that effectively resolve problems of unsustainable development caused by “free” trade policies, which are the root cause of forced displacement and involuntary international migration;
End and reverse the privatization of border control and national security operations, which is rewarding private security contractors that have abysmal human rights records and corruptive practices in Iraq, Palestine, New Orleans and elsewhere;
Abandon all plans to militarize the U.S.- Canada border, virtually and physically, as contemplated in recently passed Congressional legislation calling for a “study” of the militarization of the northern border, including the high technological surveillance of the U.S.- Mexico border.
De-link the policies and politics of national security and the “war on terror” from all immigration services and enforcement and give priority to “human security,” fulfilling the human rights, economic well-being, civil liberties, labor protections, health, safety and freedom from fear and instability, for all communities and individuals regardless of their citizenship or immigration status; and,
Transfer all border and interior immigration services and enforcement functions now under the Department of Homeland Security back to the Department of Justice, including the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Border Protection and Customs, and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, previously under the Immigration and Naturalization Services.
Address the root causes of involuntary migration and forced displacement in sending countries by ending “free” trade and other structural adjustment programs imposed on the global south by U.S.-controlled international financial institutions. Support sustainable economic development instead.
Make the United States a true partner in international cooperation by ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.