Advocating for welcoming policies at the U.S.-Mexico border region, our New Ellis Island

OUR VISIONS & DEMANDS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY ON BORDER ENFORCEMENT

Our Vision & Values: Building a

New Ellis Island at the Border

  • Our border policies decisions today will define the trajectory of our country as a whole. As such, we as a nation must reject any policies or tradeoffs that will harm communities, and instead invest in building a New Ellis Island at our border where people are treated with dignity and respect.

  • We believe in our legacy as a welcoming nation, and the heavy presence of border officials at our border and the culture of abuse within Border Patrol and other enforcement agencies in the region should be of grave concern to all Americans, not just border communities.

  • We are the people who live at the border. We know our community best.

  • We do not need more enforcement. More enforcement has not been successful in addressing the root causes of migration, and has only resulted in more abuses directed at border communities. We need improved oversight, accountability, and transparency.

  • If we are to truly live up to our values as a welcoming nation, we must create policies, protocols, and infrastructure that uphold our American values of welcoming, make institutions work better on behalf of American communities, and ensure our communities are safe and our rights are respected and protected.

The Problems

The current border enforcement system has failed our border communities, those seeking refuge at our nation’s front door, and even agents and officers themselves.

Immigrants and their families are entitled to respect for their humanity and freedoms under the law. Unfortunately, the current system will continue to perpetuate inhumane treatment and repeated violations of citizen and migrant civil rights, including but not limited to:

Physical and verbal abuse against civilians by CBP and ICE agents (excessive use of force, verbal harassment, profanity and racist remarks, physical aggression and intimidation, etc.);

Reckless and illegal behavior/actions by CBP and ICE agents (reckless driving, warrantless searches, denial of medical care, overcrowding,etc.);

Lack of functional system for community engagement/to address grievances/complaints;

Culture of impunity within federal immigration enforcement agencies, including the existence of secret Border Patrol units to cover-up wrongdoings.

The government and its bodies were created to serve community needs. This means that the government must be accountable to the public and

transparent about its actions, and ensure that its agencies and officers are responsive to and respectful of our communities.

It is critical that the Department of Homeland Security establish procedures

that help protect the rights of migrants and border communities alike and uphold our nation’s values.


Accountability, Oversight & Community Engagement Act (Senate)

Border communities have worked closely with our champions in Congress, Rep. Veronica Escobar and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, to develop legislation that would enact critical oberhauls to immigration enforcement at the U.S. border that would help prevent abuses and increase overshight and accountability of any past or future incidents.

HOUSE BILL: H.R. 3557, the Homeland Security Improvement Act, first introduced by Veronica Escobar (D-Tex) in 2019

SENATE BILL: Border Accountability, Oversight & Community Engagement Act, set to be introduced the week of Nov. 1 by Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M)

WHAT THESE BILLS DO

  • Create an independent and neutral Border Oversight Panel and Ombudsman for Border and Immigration Related Concerns;

  • Mandate training and education for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers on topics including community policing practices, lawful use of force and de-escalation tactics, and history and ethics of asylum law;

  • Develop a plan for implementation of body cameras for CBP officers;

  • Mandate CBP to create a record-keeping process for all stops and searches;

  • Ban family separations (except in very limited circumstances); among other provisions.

WHAT THESE BILLS DO NOT DO

  • These bills do not cut existing funding to border enforcement agencies, and do not provide any type of immigration relief.

  • These bills are solely about protecting our communities rights and ensuring our government and federal law enforcement agencies are held accountable to the people they are meant to serve.



Our Demands

CONGRESSIONAL ASK:

Federal immigration officers and agencies are accountable to the people. We must engage in more transparent accountability and enforcement policies at the border, and Congress must do more to reign in these notoriously abusive immigration agencies.

Our country is in desperate and urgent need of legislative reforms included in Rep. Veronica Escobar’s Homeland Security & Improvement Act and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan’s Border Accountability, Oversight & Community Engagement Act. We urge you to please stand up for a safe, accountable border by co-sponsoring these bills and fighting for them to be heard in committee.


Sign the letter to Congressional Leadership on Restoring Accountability Oversight and Transparency to Our Border Enforcement Strategy!

Click Here to access form

ABOUT THE

New Ellis Island Border Policy Group (NEI)

The New Ellis Island (NEI) Border Policy Group is composed of stakeholders from the local, state, and national levels who are developing policy recommendations from the perspective of border communities. The narrative of the New Ellis Island – rooted in shared values of welcoming, opportunity, and humanity – is embedded in the policy recommendations that consist of a range of measures that impact border communities. NEI is convened by the Border Network for Human Rights.

GOALS:

1. Championing the just and fair integration of immigrant families and workers in our society through an immigration reform package in Congress devoid of cruel or draconian enforcement tradeoffs.

2. Securing a commitment from the Biden administration to use Executive powers to repeal the destructive immigration policies targeting immigrant families and children in the border region implemented under the Trump administration, including the explicit and absolute prohibition of jailing children and their families.


3. Ensuring the federal government provides a legalization program that provides a pathway to citizenship that is broad, inclusive, and accessible to the 11+ million undocumented people who call our country home.


4. Demilitarizing the U.S./Mexico border.


5. Working with Congress to pass and implement the necessary accountability mechanisms to exercise greater oversight of federal law enforcement agencies at the border and in the interior, including DHS agencies such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and hold them accountable for their human rights and civil violations to the fullest extent of the law.


6. Ending the separation and deportation of families with an Arrest and Deportation Moratorium until our immigration system is fixed, and new, fair immigration laws are passed and implemented; reuniting families who were separated due to cruel and unjust immigration policies; and beginning the process of repatriating deported veterans.


7. Decriminalizing immigrant families and refugees by closing all immigration detention facilities across the country, prioritizing those dedicated to jailing immigrant families, refugees, and asylum seekers.


8. Rebuilding, improving, and expanding our nation’s resettlement program to ensure all applications are addressed in a timely manner, and those seeking safe haven in our country are treated with respect, dignity and fairness.


9. Reversing modifications made by Trump to the H-2A Visa Program and other temporary foreign labor programs.


New Ellis Island Border Policy Group Members


For more information, please contact: adriana@texasrita.org