Border Militarization Resource Guide


Border militarization is the transformation of the border region into a permanent war zone. And it kills—as simple as that. The combination of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), a racist culture of fear, and security build-up has created a situation that funnels undocumented workers into the harshest desert terrains. The result: more than 6,000 dead since 2000, most from thirst, exposure or dysentery, some shot and killed by the Border Patrol or armed vigilantes. All are casualties of US militarism. We demanded “Troops Out Now!” in Iraq and Afghanistan–we must demand the same for the borderlands.

In the Obama and Bush years, many liberals and even activists were willing to compromise on border militarization in order to get some kind of immigration reform. In 2017, the hope of comprehensive immigration reform is receding into a more distant future and border militarization increases even further. As of 2017, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is even more heavily funded, and the White House has attached any possible legal protection for DACA recipients to the burden of Trump’s promised wall.

Although the drama has intensified on the national stage, this isn’t new for those of us in the borderlands. Here in the desert, we continue to find the bodies. We continue to count the dead. That is why the Alliance for Global Justice has prepared the Border Militarization Guide. We hope it will be help people around the country make sense of whatever comes next – by understanding how border militarization has been taking its toll for many years. More than anything else, the goal of this guide is to educate and inspire new activists in the struggle to end the militarization of the borderlands and throughout the country.

Photo by Daquella Manera

Coalición de Derechos Humanos, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, and the Alliance for Global Justice created this multi-section Border Militarization Resource Guide. Our first online edition, originally envisioned as a study guide for classrooms and community groups, was posted in 2013. All the sections were updated in 2017, and we continue to post new chapters as they are completed.

For a quick glimpse of the reality of the border, check out this video that incorporates footage of AfGJ’s trip to the Arizona – Sonora desert.


Each chapter includes a Preface, Video and/or Audio Testimony, Feature Articles, and Links. Scattered throughout the guide will also be photographs and poetry to augment lessons.

The Resource Guide is broken down into the following ten sections:

  1. Introduction to Border Militarization 
  2. Border Repression and Human Rights 
  3. Free Trade, Labor and Forced Migration*
  4. When the Border Crosses a Family
  5. Border Militarization as Occupation
  6. The Border as Martial Law
  7. Splitting the Land in Two:  Ecological Effects of Border Militarization
  8. Border Culture versus the Culture of Fear*
  9. The Border is Everywhere
  10. Border Militarization and Empire*

*These sections of the resource guide will be released as they are completed.


Thanks to all the many contributors, organizers, thinkers, staff and others who have supported the development of this guide. Especially we wish to thank the three primary organizations behind the effort: the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, and the Alliance for Global Justice. This project simply would not have been possible without the support of the Earlham Border Studies Program and the three interns they provided, who have really shepherded and midwifed this whole thing into being. The word “intern” does not adequately describe what they brought to this project because they were not here just to learn and help out. Indeed, they did more than anyone to develop the concept for this guide and to coordinate all the disparate parts and people and efforts necessary to its completion. Specifically, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to Sophie Kazis, Will Wickham, and Nicholas Morgan, who were students at Oberlin College here via the Earlham program.  Even before the Earlham Border Studies interns, there was Duke Feldmeier, of Prescott College, who helped conceive this project. We also want to extend a special thanks to Chelli Stanley, who produced several of the original videos included in the guide and who has helped oversee the organization of all the video components contained herein.

For more information about this project send an email to or call 202-544-9355, ext. 2.