Posts tagged with 'border'
By Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
President Obama is taking heat from all sides this week for his 2012 budget proposal, which proposes increased funding for immigration enforcement and border militarization. While immigrant rights advocates are predictably up in arms over the proposal, House Republicans are (somewhat uncharacteristically) demanding significant cuts to border security funding — on the grounds that the Obama administration’s efforts to secure the border have been ineffective and fiscally irresponsible.
Obama’s future immigration priorities remain counterproductive
As Walter Ewing reports at Alternet/Immigration Impact, the proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget reveals the Obama administration’s consistently conflicted priorities on immigration. While the budget makes good (albeit modestly) on the administration’s promise to fund humane detention alternatives and better oversight of enforcement programs, the overwhelming bulk of the funding supports expansion of controversial and ineffective enforcement programs. Ewing writes:
The enforcement-heavy focus of the President’s proposed DHS budget is readily apparent in the top-line numbers. The budget for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would be $11.8 billion; up 3 percent from FY 2011. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would receive $5.8 billion, up 1 percent from the previous year. And U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would get $2.9 billion, down 5 percent from FY 2011. As is so often case, immigration services get the short end of the stick.
The administration’s continued emphasis on border security is particularly troubling in light of three recently released reports which suggest that increased enforcement efforts have proven to be totally ineffective at securing the border.
Despite increased funding, border remains unsecured
According to a newly released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 93 percent of the American-Mexican border remains porous by DHS’s own standards. The American Independent’s Kyle Daly reports:
Of the 1,969 miles of the border stretching from California to Texas, just 873 miles are deemed secure, according to the standards of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Within those 873, only 129 miles were classified in the GAO report as “controlled,” meaning there are resources in place to either turn away or apprehend people attempting to cross into the United States illegally.
The finding flies in the face of DHS’s increasingly costly efforts to secure the border. Last August, the president signed into law a $600 million border security bill and, more recently, DHS raised funding for aerial border patrol drones to $32 million. The administration’s 2012 budget proposal is similarly gratuitous, including “nearly $300 million for border technology, $229 million for border personnel and more than 40,000 additional border patrol agents and officers,” according to Daly.
Costly border security fails to secure
Meanwhile, the National Immigration Forum and the Immigration Policy Center have each released policy briefs arguing that border enforcement has proven remarkably ineffective. As Nicolas Mendoza explains at Campus Progress, funding for border enforcement has increased exponentially in recent years with little apparent impact on either unauthorized immigration or crime rates at the border:
Border Patrol funding has been increasing dramatically since 2005, rising at an average of $300 million per year. […] This in spite of the fact that “crime rates were already down in the border region” before the National Guard was deployed, with border cities like El Paso, Texas and San Diego, Calif. boasting some of the lowest crime rates in the country. […] Meanwhile, the Immigration Policy Center’s report argues that “no specific policy decision to beef up border security in the last 20 to 30 years has significantly reduced the flow of illicit drugs and people into the United States.”
In fact, as one brief points out, the only thing that has managed to decrease unauthorized immigration is the economy; Inflows have decreased by 200,000 since the beginning of the recession, as employment (the chief pull factor for unauthorized migrants) has dried up.
House Republicans vote to cut border security funding
On the heels of mounting evidence that border enforcement is both costly and ineffective, House Republicans are retreating from their usual pro-enforcement stance on border security and demanding significant cuts to DHS’s 2012 budget.
Care2’s Robin Marty reports that House members would like to cut $272 million in funding for border surveillance systems and eliminate 870 Border Patrol agents — on the grounds that the Obama administration’s border security efforts have been ineffective at quelling unauthorized immigration. While that’s certainly true, Marty notes that the move may simply be an effort to obstruct Obama’s agenda — at whatever cost.
Unfortunately, if they succeed on the first count, they’ll likely succeed on the second. The GOP has long stated that it would not move forward on comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secured, and the administration has attempted to meet that demand by putting off reform in favor of increasing border enforcement funding and capacity. In return, House Republicans have thumbed their noses at Obama’s border security efforts, painting him as incompetent on immigration and security issues and, in doing so, making it quite clear they won’t help him move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
After signing a controversial $600 million border security bill last week, President Barack Obama is drawing fire from immigration reform advocates and anti-immigrant conservatives alike. While the former argue that the new security measures are a step backwards for comprehensive immigration reform, the latter say the bill does too little to secure our borders.
Arizona’s SB 1070 was a challenge to the federal government’s ability to resolve the immigration issue, and the Obama administration took a strong stood against it. The border security bill is almost certainly a demonstration of the administration’s might. But for what, and at whose expense? (more…)
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger
Anti-immigrant forces have adeptly shaped the ongoing immigration debate into an issue of crime and punishment. Now, the pending passage of a $600 million border security bill could breathe new life into the narrative of the criminal immigrant – despite the increasing safety of our border communities.
The sentiment is familiar, if false: Crime in Mexico fuels migration, which breeds violence on the border, which must then be combated within our cities. The undocumented must be punished for stealing our jobs, stealing our services and ruining our neighborhoods. In Arizona, lawmakers like state senator Russell Pearce (who claims that his ring finger was shot off by a Latino gang member) used just that rhetoric to justify the passage of SB 1070 and other anti-immigrant laws.
The reality is far different. Not only do Mexicans and immigrants experience the worst of drug-related border violence, immigration enforcement programs have shifted their resources from combating trafficking to deporting non-criminal immigrants. (more…)
by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger
A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy on June 7. At RaceWire, Julianne Hing reports that “Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca [was] on the Mexican side of the El Paso-Juarez border [and] was shot and killed by a Border Patrol officer, who was on the U.S. side.” The incident has been condemned by the Mexican government and sparked investigations by the Customs and Border Protection agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The exact details are still being investigated. The Border Patrol claims that the teen was throwing rocks at agents, but eye-witnesses on the Mexican side of the border say otherwise.
An eye-witness account
Democracy Now! quotes an eye-witness who says that Hernandez Huereca was clearly on Mexican soil, playing with other youths when an agent shot at the entire group and killed the 15-year-old Juarez resident as he was taking cover.
“Once the youngsters were on Mexican soil, an official—I don’t know if he was an immigration agent or a police officer—arrived on a bike, wearing a white shirt, a helmet and shorts,” the witness says. “He shot at the youngsters, at the whole group. Some ran in one direction, and others in another. This one teenage victim hid behind the wall. He looked out, and that’s when the teenager was shot.”
Twice in two weeks
The shooting was the second deadly Border Patrol-related incident in two weeks. On May 26, Anastacio Hernández-Rojas, 32, was allegedly beaten and hit with a stun gun by agents in California after he became combative. His death has been ruled a homicide by the San Diego County medical examiner’s office and an investigation is ongoing.
Going back to Racewire, Maria Jimenez, an organizer with the Houston-based immigrant rights group America Para Todos, says that such incidents have a tendency to be swept under the rug. According to Jimenez, in the 1990s, agents committed at least 33 unwarranted shootings in a single year.
“Some of them we don’t even know about, they just don’t reach the public,” Jimenez says. “They know about it, but we don’t.”
Border Patrol corruption
Border Patrol agents also face accusations of charging a steep price to allow undocumented people to cross into the United States.
At New American Media, Anthony Advincula writes about the perilous journey many immigrants take to cross the border. He interviews Guatemalan immigrant Danilo Gonzalez, who paid $7,500 to a human smuggling ring that could call in favors from the Border Patrol.
“When we reached the Mexican border, we were asked to get off and transferred to a different bus. All of us were together,” Gonzalez recalls. “The traffickers had good connections to U.S. authorities; they paid some Border Patrol officers. After many hours of traveling, we were finally transported to Arizona.”
Crime down along the border
The Obama administrations’ decision to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the border is exacerbating the situation. But the troops aren’t there because of immigration, according to White House officials. They’re supposed to keep a lid on drugs and other violent trafficking crimes along the Rio Bravo.
That argument doesn’t hold water, as violence in U.S. border cities—especially those with high immigrant populations—is actually down. At Care2, Jessica Pieklo reports that “Violent crime in Arizona, and other states that have a significant immigrant populations, has been consistently on the decline, especially recently.”
Pieklo explains that after a spike in 2006 and 2007, the number of violent crimes reported in Phoenix, Arizona, including murder, dropped 13 percent in 2009.
The decrease isn’t because of Arizona’s tough anti-immigration laws. Pieklo notes that “El Paso, Texas remains one of the safest cities in the country with only 12 murders last year, despite the fact that right across the border a drug war rages in Juarez, Mexico.”
ICE and BP
Moving along to what is likely to be the worst environmental disaster in United States history, the notorious BP oil spill has now become a cause for immigrant rights supporters who are appalled by reports that the federal government is using the crisis to detain immigrant clean-up workers.
GritTV spoke with Mallika Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough, about the crackdown. Dutt noted that “it is easier to crack down on immigrants (sending ICE to check up on workers cleaning up BP’s mess) than oil companies, and that activists around these issues need to work together as civil disobedience rises around the country.”
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.
by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger
President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that he would be deploying 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to beef up security along the Río Bravo. This surprise move has garnered criticism from immigrant rights supporters, who argue that it will dehumanize and endanger immigrant and Latino communities.
Julianne Hing at RaceWire offers more details on the plan, reporting that an extra $500 million has also been allocated to law enforcement along the border.
“Obama is reportedly asking for these troop increases in anticipation of Republicans’ demands on a war spending bill this week,” Hing writes. “But Obama’s already outpaced his predecessors in spending on border security and military presence at the border.” (more…)
By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger
As we usher the last decade into the realm of memory, it’s time to stop viewing immigration reform as an Us vs. Them issue. The metaphors and language we use are key to framing a debate because they can communicate broader truths via association. For example, a scientist might mention the porous nature of all membranes and boundaries found in nature to describe the ineffectiveness of the militarized U.S.-Mexico border.
Reporting for New America Media, Marcelo Ballvé defines two emerging policy terms—“complementarity” and “circularity”—that are being used to describe the seasonal ebb and flow of migrant labor and argue for progressive reform. The terms effectively render concepts impenetrable borders and zero sum supply of resources, which are key fighting points for those who oppose progressive immigration reform, rigid and backward in contrast. (more…)
Media Consortium Blogger
Welcome to the new White House administration, in which we move forward with purpose. On President Obama’s very first day in office, immigrants and allies marched on ICE headquarters to signify their desire for change. Racewire reports that yesterday, “hundreds gathered in DC, a day after inaugurating our new president, to demand A New Day for Immigration.”
George W. Bush waved goodbye by commuting the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two former border guards who shot a man trying to escape arrest and then tried to cover their deed up. Bush claimed Ramos and Compean had “suffered enough” after serving a fifth of their sentence and set them free, though he did not pardon them. Air America reports on the controversial decision in Bush Commutes Border Agent Sentences (video).
I understand Bush’s reasoning for mercy. But I dare say that the only way you’ll see two Chicanos set free so dramatically is if they shoot a Mexican national. And a note: the victim was not an immigrant, as implied with articles that call him an “illegal alien,” but a smuggler. They are not the same thing. But never mind my cynical humor at a time like this. Let’s take a lesson from a Salvadoran immigrant, whose words about the new administration sparkle with beauty and optimism in New America Media’s Immigrant Worker at Latino Inaugural Ball Shares Hopes for Obama Era:
Maria Perez speaks little English. For more than 20 years now, she has worked as a cleaner at Union Station [in Washington, DC], six days a week, earning slightly more than the minimum wage. She is proud to be among the millions of Latinos who voted for Barack Obama and helped to make him the 44th U.S. president. [...]
“I am a Latino. My soul is a Latino, and I am happy I am support Barack,” Perez said in broken English. “Tonight I like it. All people here is happy and beautiful.”
Maria goes on to talk about specific issues such as health and education for her children, both areas that President Obama has pledged to devote attention to.
Many people are aware of how false the stereotypes concerning the undocumented population can be. But some might be surprised by the tenacity and work ethic of Maria, or the inspiring story of Prerna, a friend and colleague of mine whose recent organizing accomplishments are chronicled in New America Media’s Undocumented Students Raise Voices Online for DREAM Act.
Welcome to Web 2.0 undocumented student activism. Youth in the usually-somber waiting rooms of history are bustling with renewed enthusiasm and energy. Trapped in marginal status, ignored by the mainstream media, with their backs to the wall and everything to loose, undocumented youth are emerging as leaders in their own movement for passage of the DREAM Act.
Let me emphasize that: Anyone interested in the power of online organizing ought really read this article. And if you are interested in learning more about the DREAM Act. Change.org is a good place to get the specifics.
Jim Hightower serves up a spirited and informative rant on the “charm” of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Why The Homeland Security Department is so Beloved. Hightower defines DHS’s charm as “swaggering lunacy” and reveals plans for a 40 ft. high wall in the middle of a “unique 1,000-acre preserve along the Rio Grande.”
The most critical part of the wildlife habitat, and even the home of the preserve’s manager, would be cut off by the wall, effectively destroying the park, which is home to two kinds of endangered wildcats and a rare palm forest.
Read on. It gets worse.
I think we can agree that a 40 ft. tall fence is not going to fix the strained relationship between the US and Mexico. The Economic Populist veers from its normal reporting, alarmed by news of violence down south. In Trouble at the Mexican Border, we read about the possibility of Mexico as a failed state: “The violence, corruption and drug cartels are now so out of control in Mexico, analysts are saying, not only is Mexico one of the world’s security threats but Mexico itself might collapse.”
The drug cartels are, by and large, the focus of these types of discussions. But we have to examine how government oppression, corruption and laws that do not serve the greater population create systemic problems for a society.
The United States is completely ignoring what is going on in Mexico but if one compares the daily beheading stories, murder, kidnapping and corruption….if one didn’t know the story was about Mexico one would swear they were reading something about Iraq in 2003/2004 time frame.
I’ve been following news from Mexico for a few years now, and I agree that most US media ignores Mexico to our detriment. This is baffling to me because our cultures, our land, our labor, and our peoples are so intertwined as to be two parts of one whole. It is easy to forget this in the midst of much rigid talk of maps, borders, and walls. But reality is knocking at our door. President Obama has put Bush on notice. Change is at hand and a sizable portion of Obama’s constituency has made their needs clear, as New America Media reports in Immigrant Activists March on ICE on Day After Inauguration.
The post-inaugural march is only a beginning. [...] Across the country, advocates plan for more actions, coordinated through an increasingly sophisticated communications network, to build a groundswell in favor of reform.
Good morning, America!
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.