Tag Archives: border wall

The Mistake is 500 Miles Long

Today the Associated Press announced that 500 miles of the Southwest Border Wall have been completed.

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I’m glad to know that since our economy is floundering, immigrants are being murdered and people are sick of the same approach to this issue, our government is continuing to pour millions of dollar – oh I’m sorry, that should say billions – into a project that is sure to do nothing.

Isn’t it time for a sensible approach to immigration? Can’t we find something less archaic and and costly than building a giant wall on one of our borders? I mean, COME ON. Ok – that’s my rant.

NPR on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Right now NPR is running an interesting series on the US-Mexico Border – the tagline is “Examining a Relationship in Flux”.

border-wall-gravesThe border is just a line. In the past it used to be a strand of barbed wire and some signs in the Arizona desert. Now it has become a barrier that’s harder and harder to cross. And being on one side of that barrier or another can dramatically affect your safety, your wealth and your opportunities.

In this series, NPR explores the border from Tijuana to the Texas coast. And most of the 2,000-mile frontier is infused with tension. Some of that tension comes from poverty. Some comes from the drug gangs. Some comes from the new fence and the Border Patrol agents in armored SUVs.

Be sure to visit NPR to check out the series.

New Border Policy Report Brings together Unique Coalition

The U.S.-Mexico Border and Immigration Taskforce held a summit in Washington, DC yesterday. At the summit, the task force released their latest report titled “Effective Border Policy: Security, Responsibility and Human Rights.

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The great thing about this task force is that it is bringing together all stakeholders in the formation and articulation of immigration policy – from border community members, to local law enforcement, faith leaders, local elected officials, businesses and, of course, immigrant advocacy groups. This is truly a multi-faceted coalition, representing a sensible and effective approach to border policy.

Latina Lista has a great post, detailing the recommendations made by the task force and lauding the group as a new and powerful approach to border policy.

Perhaps the most revolutionary recommendation to emerge from the task force, and one that is long overdue, is the fact that these leaders represent a new attitude in border community leaders who are tired of the disrespect, dismissal and expectation of Washington for these communities to roll over and comply with policies mandated from DC that directly impact their quality of life — social, business and binational relationships — without including them in the decision-making process.

The full report can be downloaded here, but below is an excerpt from the executive summary:

Continue reading

$700 Billion Bailout + $400 Million Border Wall = You do the Math

With the country’s economy in a tailspin and an unprecented bailout for financial institutions being debated by lawmakers, the Department of Homeland Security quietly signed contracts to complete the border wall on Monday.

The border wall, which is over-budget and behind schedule, required $400 million extra in Congress-appropriated money to fund its completion. You heard me, $400 million EXTRA.

I think that Matthew at SmartBorders put it quite well:

As the Rio Grande Valley is moved one step closer to having a border wall slice through its communities, one wonders how the United States can justify begininning to spend $400 million on a border wall which is clearly unpopular when our banks are declaring bankruptcy, millions are foreclosing, the War drags on, and the dollar falls in relation to oil prices.  I pray these actions and these contracts are forestalled long enough for a new administration to realize the lack of logic in building a border wall while neglecting immigration reform and for the country to finally hear the cries of these border towns in the way.

We need to inject a healthy dose of common sense back into our law-making. We are all suffering from a lack of it at the top levels of government

International Migration: Tearing Down Walls

There is a great Op-Ed from this weekend’s Houston Chronicle discussing not only immigration in the United States, but the immigration phenomenon that is being seen across the globe.

Using the Beijing Olympics as a backdrop, the piece discusses walls (The Great Wall, the border wall and symbolic walls) and says that we should see immigration as “an opportunity, not as an obstacle”.

Here is an excerpt:

As the Olympic Games so clearly illustrated, the removal of real and imagined walls — through the spread of information and economic and political freedoms — has brought people around the world closer together than ever.

Constraining and complicating the system that allows people to move across borders — in America and elsewhere — will hurt businesses, stifle innovation and make it more likely that the United States will take a back seat to countries that embrace immigration.

The “us versus them” mindset has to be replaced by a “we” mindset.

Question: Can we build the Border Wall without the help of those we are trying to keep out?

I know that this question seems almost laughable, the punchline of a bad joke. But it is a very real question on the minds of those attempting to complete the 670 miles of fencing along our nation’s southwest border.

Asked whether a border wall could be built on deadline without illegal workers, Vaughan, with the general contractors group, told the Brownsville Herald in June: “It’s probably borderline impossible to be honest with you.”

In the Rio Grande valley, where work on 70 miles of the wall began last month, this question is even more pressing.

Valley longtimers have cracked wise about the barriers, saying they not only won’t thwart illegal immigrants intent on entering the country but that illegal labor will probably help build them. An estimated 8 million illegal immigrants already work in the U.S., and according to a Pew Hispanic Center report, about 1 in 5 were in the construction industry in 2006.

Federal officials say they have taken steps to ensure only legal workers build the fence that Congress conceived in 2006 in the name of national security. They include:

• In June, President Bush ordered all federal contractors to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s electronic system for verifying the Social Security numbers of their workers.

This “electronic system” is also known as E-verify, which is widely known to be a flawed and ineffective program. In a statement released yesterday, the US Chamber of Commerce commented on the E-verify system, saying, “[W]hile the Chamber understands that the federal government and employers have a compelling interest in seeing that every tool is made available to employers to ensure a legal workforce, the Proposed Rule is misguided, premature, and unwarranted.”

So, this first step to ensure contractors only use “legal” labor seems highly ineffective.

Lets look at the next steps:

• Private companies wanting a piece of the $1.2 billion fence-building project face heavy scrutiny; before they can even join a pool to bid on federal contracts, they must agree to a long list of terms, including that they will hire only legal workers.

Wait, so if they say they will only hire “legal” workers, then they obviously mean it, right? Is that the “heavy scrutiny” they will face?

• Contractors found using illegal labor face legal repercussions, said Homeland Security spokesman Barry Morrissey. “We expect contractors to uphold these agreements,” Morrissey said.

In 2006, a contractor in Southern California agreed to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring unauthorized immigrants to build millions of dollars’ worth of fencing, work that included some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico. So, it seems like these companies are willing to take the hit of “legal repercussoins” if they can continue to exploit unauthorized immigrants for cheap labor.

So, what does this all mean? I believe that the border wall project speaks to the entirety of the immigration debate. Not only do most experts agree that a wall will be ineffective, but we can’t even ensure that we could complete the project without using the hands of those we wish to keep out. In short, our immigration system is broken and only just and humane comprehensive immigration reform is going to fix it. A wall is merely a band-aid, albeit a costly one, on the gaping wound that is our current policy.

VIDEO: “The Border Wall” Film Preview

It seems like nothing will stand in the government’s way of building the walls spanning 670 miles across our nation’s southwestern border. Not the various attempts by border towns, like El Paso, to stop the wall. Not the long list of Environmental Laws that the wall will be violating, (which by the way have been waived, since our government seems so fond of selective enforcement these days). And not the insistence by any sensible person that a wall is not going to keep out people who are desperate enough to risk everything and cross the border.

“The Border Wall” is a new documentary from filmmaker Wayne Ewing, that chronicles the walls construction. Below is a preview…

 

 

Brownsville, TX takes on the Department of Homeland Security

Residents in the border town of Brownsville, TX are caught up in the Department of Homeland Security’s haste to show that they are “doing something” about immigration to the United States. The proposed Border Wall on the Southwest border of the United States is being hotly debated by residents in the areas where the wall would be built.

On Tuesday, in Brownsville, a hearing was held on the Border Wall proposal and after hours of emotional debate, the City decided to delay an agreement with the DHS.

Border wall opponent John Moore spoke at the Commission’s hearing – calling for residents to stand against the wall – and saying that nearly 98% of residents opposed the plan.

A post from SmartBorders gets straight to the core of the debate in Brownsville:

Commissioner Troiani ended the meeting by trying to get Brownsville residents to focus on their immediate interests. He said, “It comes to this…either you’re going to try to solve the problems of the city or the problems of the world.” Troiani’s comment belies the underlying reason a border wall is being discussed and supported at all. The very idea that the issues of a city are not hopelessly caught up in the problems of the world belies one of life’s basic tenets, that in the words of Dr. King we are all “caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” A wall, removable or otherwise, in Brownsville, Texas, sends a signal not just to Matamoros on the other side of the Rio Grande. No, any wall sends a signal to the entire world, to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants waiting to legally migrate to our nation. Any wall whatsoever sends a signal to the 4 million displaced Iraqis that we do not want their problems to set foot in our nation. A wall or fence broadcasts to the European Union, China, India, Japan, and England our “Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them.” Any wall, fence, or border barrier which neglects to realistically solve the issues of globalization and movement of peoples inherently affects Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania just as much as it does the Rio Grande Valley or Tamaulipas Mexico. If you are reading this, you are affected by the decisions being made right now in this city of 140,000. Please write your senators, legislators, or add your name to the growing list compiled by No Texas Border Wall. If a wall is built in Texas, it will be to the shame of our entire country and, in fact, our globalized world.

Click here to read the full SmartBorders post.

The State of Immigration

From SmartBorders

     Around the world, the state of immigration is in a period of flux.  As most countries today have set boundaries and centralized governments, and as technology has facilitated easy communications and travel between once-distant societies, immigration is on the rise and with it, a rise in both pro-migrant and in anti-immigrant sentiments.  The state of immigrants globally ranges from the welcoming economy of Spain and the closed-fist stance of neighboring Italy to the construction of a border wall on America’s southern border and the 11.4 million refugees currently awaiting any country to allow them entry. (New York Times)

Read full article here.

A Tale of Two Borders

From MigraMatters

“I’ve said from the beginning that we can’t reform immigration laws until we control immigration, and we can’t control immigration unless we control our borders and our ports.”Lou Dobbs

We’ve heard that statement in various forms a millions times, repeated ad infinitum by various politicians and talking heads since Frank Luntz first advised anti-immigrant Republicans to stress that ““A country that can’t control its own borders can’t control its own destiny” to sell an anti-immigrant agenda to the American public.

But it has always gone without saying that the border that needed to be controlled has been the one to the south. Rarely, if ever, has the northern border been mentioned in most border security screeds.

Congress has appropriated funds for vast amounts of added security on the southern border, and walls are being constructed as we speak to further limit access across the 1900 mile stretch.

Of course the need to stem the flow of “illegal immigration” is always given as the chief cause for such expenditures. But additionally, the need for general “border security” is often cited.

Anti-immigrant politicians and talking heads are always quick to conflate the flow of economic refugees with the flow of drugs and the threat of international terrorism to pepper their anti-immigrant rants with even higher levels of fear and trepidation.

Click here to read the full post.

posted by Duke1676