Border Wall

The 800 Mile Wall: film challenges the deadly politics of border security








NOTE: This film was screened in San Diego in 2009, but is available for purchase at 

Screening Dec 3, 2009 at Joe & Vi Jacobs Center, 404 Euclid Ave


San Diego, CA- So far this year, 206 migrants have died in the harsh deserts of Arizona trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the humanitarian organization No More Deaths. Since Operation Gatekeeper was instituted in 1994, over 5600 innocent men, women and children have died in the attempt to migrate from Mexico to the U.S. through our borderlands, driven from their homes by the economic collapse in Mexico caused by NAFTA, and drawn here by a once-robust U.S. economy and the concentration of capital and jobs on both sides of the border.

A new film by John Carlos Frey, The 800 Mile Wall: The Deadly Reality of Border Security, puts this brutal and tragic situation in the context of U.S. border policies beginning in the early 1990s during the Clinton administration. In 1995, a new border security policy was initiated under then Attorney General Janet Reno and “border czar” Alan Bersin. (Bersin had just moved to San Diego in 1992 with his wife Lisa Foster, and in short order accepted an appointment as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, then the position of “border czar”). The policy of “prevention through deterrence,” the brainchild of Alan Bersin, was based on a cruel logic of preventing Mexican immigration to the U.S. by upping the ante: border enforcement manpower, technology and border wall infrastructure was concentrated in four short segments in San Diego, El Paso, Central Arizona and south Texas where 70-80 percent of migrant border crossing was taking place. With these four regions secured, it was argued that the harsh terrain of impassable mountains and scorching deserts would prove an effective deterrent to further migration.

This assumption proved to be deadly, and dead wrong. While border enforcement expenditures quadrupled in the period from 1993 to 2009, migration flows did not stop; they merely shifted geographically into very same dangerous terrain that was believed to act as a deterrent. And thousands of people have died as a result. Evidence has shown that costly border walls, massive government spending on surveillance technologies like Boeing’s failed “virtual fence,” and a tripling of border patrol manpower has been met by a robust growth in the number of undocumented workers living the U.S. during this period. Only in the past two years, with the economy of the U.S. in free fall, have we seen a decrease in the numbers of workers crossing into the U.S. for jobs.

Frey’s film documents the effects of this policy, telling the story with the compassion and commitment of an insider. Born in Tijuana and raised in south San Diego, Frey brings a keen understanding and the spirit of advocacy to his work.

Join us for a screening of The 800 Mile Wall: The Deadly Reality of Border Security, and a panel discussion with the director, joined by Pedro Rios of AFSC and Kevin Keenan of the ACLU.

DATE: Thursday, Dec 3, 2009 beginning 6 PM
LOCATION: Joe and Vi Jacobs Center, Celebration Hall, 404 Euclid Ave, San Diego, CA 92114.
ADMISSION: Free. Suggested donation- one gallon bottle of water.
FOR MORE INFO: (619) 233-4114

And see also Matt Potter’s new article in the San Diego Reader Obama Taps Alan Bersin to Oversee the Border

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  1. Pingback: A gathering place at the U.S.-Mexico border

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