We were hopeful about the prospect of real immigration reform. But the sad reality is that the immigration bill passed by the Senate is, more than anything else, a border militarization and criminalization bill. It would add $30 to 50 billion dollars for “security”, including 350 to 700 miles of border wall construction, and a doubling of the number of immigration agents. One can expect anything coming out of the House to only be worse. We must defeat this bill in its current form and keep it from making it out of the House. We must continue to demand justice on the border, and we must stand united and fast against even greater repression. We must demand real immigration reform, not border militarization.
This lesson is a “special lesson”. It was not planned as part of this study guide, but circumstances demand it. We have provided several resources below for those who want to learn more. What we especially want to call your attention to is the Call to Action section, below the educational material. As this lesson is being released, we are preparing for the month of August, when Congress is on break. Throughout August, Representatives will be in their offices, meeting with constituents and holding Town Halls. This is the time to act! Schedule delegations to visit your Congress person, turn out in force for community events and bird dog your Representative about this issue. Organize and hold public rallies and educational events. Remember that important axiom from the great Frederick Douglas: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Alliance for Global Justice National Co-Coordinator Chuck Kaufman has done an excellent job succinctly summing up all that is bad about the “Gang of Eight” proposal. For our preface to this lesson, we include a testimony Chuck gave at a press conference in Tucson the day after the Senate bill was passed:
When it was announced that the nation was going to finally address, comprehensively, the human rights disaster that is immigration policy in this country, Alliance for Global Justice joined border rights groups in cautious optimism. Several years ago we joined health rights groups in cautious optimism about healthcare reform only to see our Republican and Democratic elected officials turn it into a welfare system for insurance companies. It gives us great pain and anger to see those same elected officials now turning immigration reform into welfare for the military-prison-industrial complex.
$50 BILLION added to militarize the border? 20,000 more Border Patrol Agents? Have our Senators lost their minds or only their morality? For the past few years they have been frothing at the mouth about the deficit. So much so that they allowed sequestration to slash needed programs across the board. Deficit reduction could not have been their real motive if those same Senators are now willing to erase half of the deficit reduction to create the second most militarized border in the world, second only to the border dividing Korea!
Yes we want a path to citizenship for all of the undocumented workers in our country. But the so-called path to citizenship now seems almost invisible and increasingly unlikely in what has become a border militarization bill, not an immigration bill. Despite this, many alleged immigrant rights groups with nice offices in Washington, DC are falling over themselves to support this poison pill bill in the Senate. DC-based groups and politicians do not speak for those of us who live in the actual border region and must deal with the consequences of living in an occupied territory. They don’t see the deaths in the desert. They don’t see the racial profiling that creates fear and an unwillingness to report crime in our communities. They don’t see the criminalization of our communities. And what they can’t see, they have no right to claim that they speak about on our behalf.
This bill has become an abomination, but it is not too late to turn back and craft an immigration bill based on the historical precedents of how we have absorbed immigrant workers and families into our society. But we have to turn back now. Right now.
For the past 20 years border communities have disproportionately suffered from an “enforcement first” approach to immigration policy. The size of the Border Patrol has grown more than five-fold. Residents within 100 miles of the border now live within a “constitution-free zone,” where their civil rights and liberties are consistently ignored. In their zeal for “border security,” the Department of Homeland Security has recklessly implemented the largest waiver of law in American history, disregarding laws that protect the environment, cultural and historic sites, Indigenous sacred sites and America’s public lands. What is worse, the enforcement build-up is directly responsible for the more than 2,500 men, women and children who have died in the Arizona desert.
On June 21 the Senate “Gang of 8” introduced the Corker-Hoeven amendment, a massive overhaul of S. 744, the immigration reform bill that congress had been debating for months. This replacement bill is being railroaded through the congressional process…. Read More…
On Thursday, June 27th, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill by a 68 to 32 margin. The Legalization For All (L4A) network strongly condemns the inclusion of the Corker-Hoever amendment in the Senate immigration reform bill. The Corker-Hoever amendment will increase militarization on the border, expand the E-verify workplace enforcement, and try to track the more than one hundred and fifty million people who enter the United States each year.
The Senate bill that passed calls for an additional $46 billion to further militarize the border, including 20,000 more border patrol officers, hundreds of miles of new fencing, and mandates use of military technology. This will mainly be felt by Mexicans and Central Americans trying to cross the border, leading to more deaths…. Read More….
by Todd Miller New legislation would transform the US-Mexico border into a domestic surveillance command center…. Read More….
by Kate Morgan-Olsen and Catherine Gaffney The line between the United States and Mexico is drawn thickly. The border serves as a test site for military surveillance technology, a dumping ground for spending on national security infrastructure, and a rhetorical battleground for Congress….Read More….
by James Jordan
When the Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act was being voted on in 1988, a rider was added at the last minute by Sen. John McCain. For the first time in history, a federal law was passed that exempted a project from all cultural and environmental laws. What was the project? It was the US Air Force Funded Mount Graham Astronomical Complex. Mount Graham is home to a sky island environment hosting some 18 endemic species of plants and animals, and a place sacred to the San Carlos Apache, where songs and healing herbs are to be found, and where ancestors are buried.
What does this have to do with the border and proposed immigration reform? It set the precedent for a situation where, to date, some 37 federal environmental and cultural protection laws have been waived with regard to border militarization and wall construction–the largest such waiver in US history. Read more….
CALL TO ACTION