Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Honoring the Fallen: Demanding an End to U.S. Border Miltiarization

520 Weeks of Witness to Human Rights Crisis

Coalición de Derechos Humanos Celebrates Ten Years of Raising Voices for Justice and an End to Border Militarization

The human rights crisis that exploded after Arizona Governor Brewer signed into law SB1070, which gives local police the power to stop and arrest individuals for their immigration status, is over sixteen years in the making. SB1070 is the offspring of U.S. border security and immigration control policies that deliberately funnel migrants through the state's deadliest and desolate regions.

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.

Ten years ago, the Coalición de Derechos Humanos (DH) began a vigil to recognize all victims of U.S. border security policies. In 2000, DH reported the recovery of 136 human remains solely on the Arizona border region. Now, from October 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010, DH reports an astounding 110 human remains recovered on the border over five months.

Since 1994, when the current border security strategy was implemented by the Clinton Administration on the entire U.S.-Mexico border region, more than 5,000 migrants deaths have been recorded on the U.S. side of the Mexico border.

Please join or support the Coalición de Derechos Humanos at the 520th weekly vigil Thursday, May 20, 2010, 7:00pm, at El Tiradito Shrine (Cushing and Main Streets) Tucson, AZ

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:
Esequiel Hernandez, Jr.* May 14, 1979 - May 20, 1997

Join DH to commemorate the fallen on the 520th weekly vigil, a pledge to bear witness to the deadly border and its victims.

Background to the Human Rights Crisis in Arizona

NAFTA Border Control of Migrant Labor

Why are migrants dying and disappearing in the deserts and mountains of Arizona and in parts of California New Mexico and Texas?

The U.S. deliberately "funnels" migrants into the most dangerous and desolate regions of the border to supposedly dissuade them from coming to the U.S. This strategy was implemented as the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, was being negotiated and signed. NAFTA, instead of addressing the displacement of workers caused by "free" trade policies, put the costs of NAFTA on Mexico and specifically undermined the rights of migrant workers.

Border security and control strategies have been the policy of how migrant workers are integrated into the U.S. labor force. NAFTA and subsequent U.S. border security policies have made migrant workers, including Indigenous people and other people of color communities on the border, more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. SB1070 is the latest form of labor control policy based on anti-immigrant racial profiling and discrimination.

"Prevention through Deterrence" means Migrant Deaths

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.

Operation Blockade was implemented in September 1993 by then Border Patrol Sector Chief Silvestre Reyes that consisted of placing one Border Patrol agent with a Bronco jeep about every thousand yards across the entire width of the El Paso-Juárez metropolitan region on the borderline. BP Sector Chief Reyes under then-INS director Doris Meisner piloted the strategy that is responsible for causing the death, disappearance or, if they survive the ordeal, immense suffering and damage to the health of thousands of migrants.

The U.S. implementation of the border security strategy was part of the U.S. pact under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was signed and ratified by Congress in November 1993.

The goal of the now 17 year old U.S. border security strategy was to force migrants who chose to cross without authorization or inspection through the desert and out of the safer urban areas. Instead of offering options to enter legally, the U.S. offered migrants choose between not crossing or risking their lives and health to reunite with their families and seek work to survive.

How to End the Human Rights Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border

The human rights crisis at the border is the result of U.S. immigration and border control polices, practices and strategies that criminalize status, militarize immigrant and border communities, link immigration enforcement and services to the politics of national security. Ultimately, the U.S. border reflects the imposition of "free" trade policies and economic development that forces workers to move to find work -- in many cases into involuntary international migration -- and makes them vulnerable to hate and exploitation.

Communities have to learn each others histories and find common ground to roll-back the hate and end the policies that foment and bolster the anti-immigrant climate.

At the heart of this is building long-lasting and durable relationships between border and non-border communities, immigrants, Native American peoples, communities of color and working people. This relationship is strategic to expose, prevent and stop the current trading of rights that is central to "comprehensive immigration reform." Rights trading means that the rights of communities are negotiated away as part of the deal-making for immigration reform. The rights of border and immigrant communities have always been offered head first to satisfy the xenophobia and calls for "border security."

In 2007, NNIRR worked with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) to bring an African American and black immigrant delegation to the Arizona border to see first-hand the devastating results of the U.S. militarization of immigration and border control policies, practices and strategies.

In 2006, NNIRR with the Coalición de Derechos Humanos brought a national delegation of grassroots community groups and leaders to meet with their counterparts in the Arizona border region and dream a different border based on justice and human rights. These are were our recommendations to solve the human rights crisis at the border :

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home