Press release, Re: Border Statement

Contacts: Louie Gilot, Policy Director, Border Network for Human Rights; 2115 N. Piedras, El Paso, TX 79930; (915) 274-0541; Ricardo Favela, Communications Coordinator, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, San Diego, CA;; (760) 723-9510.

PRESS STATEMENT:  Border residents oppose calls for deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border

May 26, 2010 –Organizations and elected officials representing border communities from San Diego to Brownsville have drafted a letter to the Obama Administration and federal legislators strongly opposing the decision to send the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. The organizations believe the deployment is ill-conceived and motivated by electoral politics rather than focused on the needs of border communities.

“While DC politicians like to paint the border as a war zone, the reality is that it is one of the safest areas of the country. Crime is down. Even immigration flows are down. The only emergency here is a political one,” said Pedro Rios, with the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, one of the signatories of the letter.

However, the militarization of the border is not without consequences for the communities who live there. Economies are choked by inefficient border crossings, civil rights are pushed aside, and quality of life is seriously diminished. Worse, community safety is being sacrificed by those who believe that soldiers trained for war belong near family neighborhoods or should be involved in enforcing civilian laws. We cannot forget that in 1997, U.S. Marines sent to secure the border, shot and killed a teenage U.S. citizen who was peacefully herding goats.

“We are frustrated and disappointed by the Obama Administration because this strategy is a recipe for disaster. This militarization will further alienate border communities and jeopardize the success of border security goals and the fight against real criminal threats,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director for the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas, who also signed the letter.

It is time to rethink our border policy.  Increasing the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border does not enhance our national security, but in fact undermines it by misallocating resources.   Humane border policies would focus quality law enforcement resources on real threats in the region, while protecting the rights and well-being of border residents.

The full text of the letter follows.

The organizations and individuals who signed the letter so far are: American Friends Service Committee (CA); San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (CA); San Diego Foundation for Change (CA); Border Action Network (AZ); First Christian Church of Tucson (AZ); ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights (NM); Border Network for Human Rights (TX); Immigrant Justice Alliance (TX); Freedom Ambassadors (TX); U.S.-Mexico Border and Immigration Task Force; Casa de Proyecto Libertad (TX); and Project Puente (TX).


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