Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama and Congress increase border militarization, ensuring more migrant deaths and rights abuses

Obama and Congress increase border militarization, ensuring more migrant deaths and rights abuses

By National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Censored News

Photo: Shoes left behind by migrants in the Sonoran Desert, Southside art installation. Photo Brenda Norrell

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Earlier today President Obama signed a new bill authorizing an additional $600 million to increase border security, strengthening a deadly border militarization strategy. Tragically, this move will surely increase the number of migrants who perish at the U.S.-Mexico border and the bill contributes nothing to ensuring the safety and rights of migrants and border communities.

The new bill promises to enhance controversial immigration-police collaboration and places more military technology, including surveillance drones, on the border. An additional 1,000 Border Patrol officers, 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and 250 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will be hired. These increments do not include Obama's recent announcement of the deployment of another 1200 National Guard troops to patrol the border in Arizona.

The Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (CDH), based in Tucson, AZ, reports that the remains of 214 migrants have been recovered as of July 31, 2010, on the Arizona stretch of the border alone, more than was recorded last year. Two months remain in this fiscal year before the final tally of migrant deaths is complete.

As many as 8,000 migrant dead have been recovered on the U.S.-Mexico border since the U.S. government's current "prevention through deterrence" strategy was implemented in 1994. Human rights groups working to prevent migrant deaths and abuses on the border believe that for every migrant dead found at least ten others are missing in the desert.

Along with a record number of migrant deaths at the border, the U.S. under the Obama Administration is achieving a record number of deportations this fiscal year. The "Southwest Border Security Bill" is a reminder of what type of "CIR," or immigration reform, is being offered: A piece-meal enforcement approach that continues gutting the rights of immigrants, with more jailings and deportations and promises of restrictive access to "legalization" and guest worker programs.

Demilitarize, Decriminalize: End Border Deaths

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) is greatly disturbed by the Administration's determination to deepen the flawed and fatal militarization of immigration control and border communities, further fueling the criminalization of immigration status.

The U.S. must end the deliberate "funneling" of migrants through the border desert, stopping the death of migrants and the criminalization of status. Instead, the U.S. must increase access to legal immigration with the protection of rights, provide more options for permanent residency and citizenship and create routine programs of legalization. But this will not be enough if the root causes are not addressed. Fair and just immigration reforms must be accompanied with fair and just trade policies and initiatives. By taking such measures and steps, the Obama Administration can make immigrant families, workers and communities less vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and create safer environments and strengthen everyone's rights.


Arnoldo Garcia (510) 465-1984 ext. 305

Catherine Tactaquin (510) 465-1984 ext. 302

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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