Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Border Alliance Formed to Address Concerns

Border policy is just one important aspect of the need for a complete upheaval and restructuring of the overall immigration system. Unfortunately, those of us who call the FronteraLands our home in the southwest portion of the United States know that when D.C. talks about the need to secure our nation's borders, they don't really mean it. That's all just wonky code for "do all we can to keep the horde of brown people heading north from Mexico and Latin America out of our land."

Never will we see the construction of a massive wall between the U.S. and Canada as we are witnessing rise like an evil phoenix across the desert states; nor will Alaskans have to tolerate the erection of virtual sensor towers along their imaginary line with the Yukon Territory. Checkpoints with armed guards a hundred miles inland won't be commonplace in Maine, though if they were to materialize, you can bet a sack of euros that agents would still be scanning vehicles for those suspected of crossing la frontera sur. No need to worry about every guest at a Hawaiian luau being seized by gas mask-covered ICE agents wielding demands that proof of citizenship be provided on the spot.

No, no. Those types of adventures are usually reserved for us. A second helping if our skin happens to be brown. Any yet, over the past several years, the George W. Bush misAdministration has repeatedly told residents of frontera communities that our concerns were null and void in the face of Homeland Security™. Our human rights have been repeatedly ignored and violated as the region becomes more militarized, environmental protections slashed and burned, tribal burial grounds desecrated, ancestral properties seized, minority populations targeted through profiling, etc etc etc.

In the face of such adversity and oftentimes absurdity, a sliver of light shines through the crack in the doorway to true dialog. An alliance has been formed between the National Immigration Forum, the Border Network of Human Rights and the Border Action Network to give a voice to border residents. This week, members of the three groups travel to Washington, D.C. to present their collaborative report: Effective Border Policy: Security, Responsibility and Human Rights. You can view the full report and representative listings here.

This report finally addresses border policy and immigration reform with an adult mindset, instead of with a tantrum and band-aid, as we've seen repeatedly during the past eightish years. Via press release, here is an excerpt of recommendations and the mindset of collaborators:
"Border policy is not a choice between enforcement or no enforcement; it is about smart enforcement that creates national and community security," said El Paso Sheriff-elect and Task Force member, Richard Wiles. "I came to Washington because I believe that border security and community security are not mutually exclusive. Establishing and maintaining trust between local law enforcement and the immigrant community is central to the security of my county. If we trust each other, then as Sheriff I can focus on the real dangers facing our community."

The recommendations in the report are divided into several key areas: accountability and oversight, review of border operations, technology, and infrastructure, ports of entry, border walls and fencing, diluting law enforcement resources, military at the border, detention and deportation, community security and just and comprehensive development.

Specific proposals include:
  • Communities are more secure when border enforcement policies focus on the criminal element and engage immigrants in fighting the real dangers facing our country;
  • Communities are safer when we implement policies that ensure accountability and provide local oversight of enforcement activities;
  • Communities flourish when Ports of Entry are treated as vital gateways to America;
  • Communities are stronger and lives are saved when we replace border blockade operations with more sensible enforcement; and
  • Communities are safer when local law enforcement is not pressed into immigration-enforcement roles and the military is not used to enforce civilian law.
Let's see how much Change™ can be enacted with a new President and Congress next year. A bigger table for discussion with the people who actually live in the areas being affected is a decent start.

Crossposted from The Sanctuary

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