Border Communities: “This Bill Doesn’t Represent Us Any Longer”
The inclusion of unprecedented militarization in S. 744 broke any potential for having a balanced border enforcement strategy
(EL PASO, Texas) — Democratic and Republican senators made a calculated political decision today to militarize U.S. communities along the border with Mexico to advance an increasingly punitive immigration reform package, S.744.
BNHR clearly recognizes that the inclusion of the Corker-Hoeven amendment and the final passage of S. 744 today in the Senate militarizes the border region, invariably leads to more violations of rights, while diminishing — perhaps permanently — the quality of life of all Americans and residents of our border states.
This bipartisan deal is a game changer in the immigration reform debate since it will bring the shadow of militarization to America. If this bill becomes the law, it will swallow our traditional values of freedom and liberty for all and gravely endanger our rights and dignity.
For the more than six million people who live in border American communities between San Diego, California and Brownsville, Texas, S.744 is a promise of abuse, violation and death. Our cities will be occupied by 40,000 armed federal personnel, new Black Hawk helicopters, 18 border drones, more than 700 miles of fencing and wall, hundreds of watch towers, sensors and other military technology in an era where Border Patrol is already the largest para-military force in the U.S. All of this comes in at an initial price tag of $46 billion dollars.
The border has already seen massive expansion of enforcement personal and technology in the last seven years — making this deal not only unnecessary but also an obscene waste of precious resources. Taxpayers’ money could be better spent strengthening the economy and meeting the educational, infrastructure, local security, and social service needs of border communities.
What we know is that the impact of this decision will go far beyond border communities who will be doomed to decades of living in a virtual war zone. This has the potential to creep into the rest of the country. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have taken the unprecedented step of militarizing a large portion of the U.S. which presents a frontal assault on the civil liberties and human rights of border residents and eventually to other communities across the U.S.
Until we have an immigration reform worthy of America’s promise, BNHR will continue to work toward a fast and fair pathway to citizenship and the inclusion of the DHS Border Oversight Task Force in the bill as a way to bring accountability, oversight, consultation and expertise to the border policymaking process.
However, based on the results of extensive consultations carried out in the last few days with BNHR members and other residents of our border community, we stand in strong opposition to any attempts to sacrifice our border communities. Ultimately BNHR believes that S. 744 does not represent border communities any longer.