Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 29, 2010

Communities Condemn Obama Administration for Militarization of Border

Contact: Derechos Humanos: 520.770.1373
Communities Condemn Obama Administration's Decision to Further Militarize the U.S. - México Border
We must stand together on May 29, 2010 to show our resolve against injustice
By Derechos Humanos
Photo: Angie Ramon, Tohono O'odham whose son Bennett Patricio, Jr., was run over and killed by the US Border Patrol, stands before crosses at San Xavier to remember the migrants who died crossing the Sonoran Desert. Photo: Brenda Norrell.

TUCSON - The Coalición de Derechos Humanos along with groups across the country, condemn Tuesday's announcement that the Obama Administration will send 1,200 National Guard troops to Arizona and will request an additional $500 million to "secure" the Mexican border.

The decision by Obama to "up the ante" on the militarization scheme of over 16 years, not only follows his administration's record of continued attacks on immigrant families across the nation since he became President but his own DHS 800 ICE agent military-style assault on the communities in Arizona on April 15, 2010. Last year, President Obama also sent more than 700 new federal agents to the border, at that time responding to cries of non-existent "spill-over violence," feeding the continued growth of the militarization and of the anti-immigrant sentiment.

"Our communities have born the consequences of border security policies implemented since the mid-1990's-thousands of migrants who have been funneled to their deaths along the Arizona-Sonora border, dangerous spikes in xenophobia and the growth of hate groups, negative economic impacts and other tensions for border communities, the eventual election of anti-immigrant politicians and the enactment of anti-immigrant laws" stated Isabel Garcia, member of Coalicion de Derechos Humanos. "Now this new decision will be felt increasingly and devastatingly across the country."

In July of 1994, Doris Meissner, then Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) released the "Border Patrol Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond," which clearly shows that their predicted effects of increased militarization would lead to the current political conditions in the state of Arizona.
"Those of us who knew that Arizona was 'chosen' to become the laboratory for the anti-immigrant policies back in 1994, now hope that we can finally reframe the immigration debate by demanding that President Obama and the Congress engage in a dialogue that includes an analysis of our foreign and economic policies, such as NAFTA and the Merida Initiative (and the resulting migration), a review of our immigration laws and policies that have encouraged unauthorized migration, and an acknowledgement of the vast contributions made by immigrants," stated Garcia. "We must tell the U. S. public the truth about immigration. But if we follow the same framework and continued increases in police and other enforcement/prosecution measures such as Operation Streamline, we will continue the negative consequences as well, including the unprecedented expenditures."

The decision to send military troops into civilian communities is also extremely dangerous. On May 20th, 1997, the nation was horrified by the murder of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil by the military. Eighteen year-old Esequiel Hernandez, Jr., who was tending to the family's goats on his family's ranch in Redford, Texas was stalked for twenty-one minutes and then shot and killed. The U.S. Marines, part of Joint Task Force Six, an INS/Department of Defense unit working along the border, worried that they had killed an innocent civilian and watched Esequiel dying for approximately twenty minutes before calling in to report the incident. A House Judiciary Sub-Committee subsequently made damaging findings, including accusations of obstruction of investigation, and clearly illustrates the dangers of placing military troops in civilian communities.

Derechos Humanos and allies across the country call on each one of us to take responsibility to learn the truth about the immigration issues and to engage in dialogue in our own communities and families. While those in power focus on pitting us against each other, worker against worker, Big Oil and Wall Street get a free pass. We must not allow the attacks on our communities. We demand that the Obama Administration reverse his decision to send national guard troops to our border and to request half a billion dollars to "secure the border." Our country needs real security - jobs, health care, quality education, housing, healthy communities - not measures that bring pain, division, hate and destruction.
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
P.O. Box 1286 Tucson, AZ 85702
Tel: 520.770.1373
Fax: 520.770.7455

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