Border Wall

Senate Deal Threatens Communities

Border wall and access roads carve through 6 miles of wilderness in southern California

The U.S. Senate today came to an agreement on the immigration reform bill, agreeing to a “border surge” amendment which would double the number of border patrol agents–adding an additional 20,000 agents, mandate excessive spending  on border security infrastructure–700 additional miles of border walls, more access roads, forward operating bases, lights and cameras, all at a cost of $48 billion over the next ten years.  The agreement comes as a disappointment to many who argue that militarizing the border only makes our border  more unstable and ignores the real concerns of our communities.

Political leaders from California and Arizona spoke out today against the proposed plan:

Statement from David Alvarez, City of San Diego, Calif. Councilmember:
“As Councilmember for the City of San Diego, I am dismayed by the announcement that Senate leaders are poised to dramatically increase the number of Border Patrol agents and increase border fences as part of the immigration reform bill.   This obsession by extremists appears as a political tactic to not address the real problems in our nation. Increased border enforcement measures, without sufficient oversight and accountability, is irresponsible and fails to address real concerns of border community members.
Overhauling the nation’s immigration laws is necessary, but this should not be done without proper consultation with those communities who will have to live with the effects of poorly thought-out policy.  Benchmarks for border security have been met, and the insistence on enforcement-first misses the mark on the reality of border communities which I represent.

The City of San Diego is the second safest city in the country according to FBI statistics.  Instead of spending trillions more on militarizing our communities, we should invest on modernizing our ports and prioritize commerce and trade as a way to boost our local and national economies.  As it stands, this proposal will compromise the safety and quality-of-life of the over 6 million people who call the border their home in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.”

Statement from Richard Barrera, Board Trustee at the San Diego Unified School District and Secretary-Treasurer of San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council:

“Working families and students in Southern California’s border region are looking to Congress for practical and fair solutions that bring them out of the shadows and fully into our economy and democracy.

A doubling of border agents threatens to undermine security in our communities.  What we have learned is that border agents roam our neighborhoods, set up checkpoints near schools, and harm our families with little to no oversight and accountability.  It is irresponsible for Congress to consider putting more agents at the border without including real, meaningful mechanisms to hold agents accountable for their actions.

What we need are real solutions that balance the interests of border enforcement and quality of life in the border region.”

Statement from Tucson, Arizona, Councilmember Richard Fimbres:

“The Tucson sector of the border has one of the largest contingent of Customs and Border Protection officers and operations, something this Mayor and Council supports.  This sector also has a new crossing, the Mariposa Port-of-Entry, which is very under staffed, causing delays for people and commerce trying to cross legally into our country.

Tucson supports a secure border but also one for which people, who are legally crossing, as well as commerce, are able to do so in a quick and efficient manner. About $1-billion alone annually is spent in Tucson by tourists from Mexico who come to this Southern Arizona city, located 64 miles from the border.  Much more in financial terms of commerce comes across the Arizona border from Nogales to across our great nation.

 I echo the concerns of El Paso Mayor, John Cook, and hope that Senators will consult the mayors along the border, before the final adoption, to see what is needed to secure our border as well as to ensure that our nation has effective ports-of-entry for people and commerce coming into our country legally.”

The coalition CAMBIO released this statement yesterday, rejecting the agreement and mapping out seven essential elements of border enforcement.

CAMBIO, the Campaign for Accountable, Moral and Balanced Immigration Overhaul, urges the U.S. Senate to reject the proposed border enforcement compromise that will affect millions of people living in the region.

Christian Ramirez, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition on behalf of CAMBIO, said:
“This compromise represents a bad deal for border communities and the American people.  It is nothing less than an empty promise of border security and an extreme, excessive and expensive political calculation. This is a backroom political deal at the expense of the millions of Americans living in our border communities.”
CAMBIO believes the following elements are essential to responsible enforcement activity in the border region:
  • Monitor Use of Force:  Equip all 20,000+ border agents with lapel cameras to deter abuse, protect against unfounded allegations of abuse, and restore trust in agents.
  • Keep Border Patrol at the Border:  Exclude urban and other sensitive areas from drone and other invasive surveillance.
  • Protect 4th Amendment Rights in the Southwest: Reduce existing power without a warrant granted to CBP from 100 to 25 miles to board vehicles, and from 25 to 10 miles to enter onto private property (not dwellings) with sector-by-sector exceptions where DHS can justify the exception.
  • Mitigate Migrant Deaths: Deploy 1,000 distress beacons in the desert to save migrants and others who fall into distress because of heat and other circumstances.
  • Strengthen Border Oversight Task Force:  Add subpoena power and limit Border Patrol role on Task Force to avoid conflict of interest.
  • Modernize and Staff Ports of Entry: Our southern land ports are the nation’s cash register facilitating trade with Mexico that is driving our regional and national economy and creating jobs.
CAMBIO is a diverse group of organizations advocating for laws and policies that create a fair system for immigrants to become citizens; bans indefinite detention; guarantees due process for everyone in the United States; makes enforcement systems accountable; protects civil and human rights; encourages a better border to protect the quality of life in the borderlands, prevents the abuse of vulnerable Americans; and keeps families together. CAMBIO’s members include American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights, the Border Network for Human Rights, Detention Watch Network, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Guestworker Alliance, the National Immigration Law Center, Rights Working Group, Southern Border Communities Coalition, Immigrant Justice Network, and Northern Borders Coalition.
More information about CAMBIO can be found on the web at  www.CAMBIO-US.org and on Twitter @CAMBIOtoday.

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