Arizona Groups Call on National Immigrant Rights Advocates to Not Sell Out the Border
For the past 20 years border communities have disproportionately suffered from an “enforcement first” approach to immigration policy. The size of the Border Patrol has grown more than five-fold. Residents within 100 miles of the border now live within a “constitution-free zone,” where their civil rights and liberties are consistently ignored. In their zeal for “border security,” the Department of Homeland Security has recklessly implemented the largest waiver of law in American history, disregarding laws that protect the environment, cultural and historic sites, Indigenous sacred sites and America’s public lands. What is worse, the enforcement build-up is directly responsible for the more than 2,500 men, women and children who have died in the Arizona desert.
On June 21 the Senate “Gang of 8” introduced the Corker-Hoeven amendment, a massive overhaul of S. 744, the immigration reform bill that congress had been debating for months. This replacement bill is being railroaded through the congressional process, with Senate leaders declaring they hope to have a full vote on the legislation by the end of this week (June 28th). Among other things, the bill will now include the following provisions:
• 18,000 new Border Patrol agents, almost doubling the size of the agency (and more than triple the number that would have been added under the widely condemned Cornyn amendment)
• Hundreds of new miles of single or double-layered border fencing
• $3.6 billion to expand the use of drones and other surveillance technology along the border
• Full implementation of an entry-exit visa verification system at all U.S. ports of entry as a trigger to allowing registered provisional immigrant status (even Senator Cornyn questions whether this is realistic in the reasonably foreseeable future)
• 100% implementation of E-verify for all U.S. employers and employees
• Expansion of the waiver of all laws for construction of physical infrastructure, including a series of forward operating bases at the border
• Postponed implementation of a pathway to citizenship until all of the above are completed
• Increased fees that immigrants would have to pay to normalize their status
• Tripling of criminal prosecutions for border crossers (to 210 people daily at the Tucson Federal Courthouse) through “Operation Streamline” mass hearings
• Expansion of the prison population and private prison profits. Through Operation Streamline and related efforts, 82,250 individuals were criminally prosecuted for immigration violations in 2011 alone, constituting over 50% of all federal prosecutions, costing $1,023,615,633.60 and resulting in Latinos now representing more than half of the federal prison population (while only 16% of the national population).
In public statements celebrating the Corker-Hoeven replacement bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham has exuberantly proclaimed: “we have practically militarized the border.” Graham’s boasting indicates the Senator’s lack of concern regarding the already severe impacts of border militarization on the over 6 million U.S. citizens, immigrants, and indigenous peoples who live in the southwest borderlands, and the environment that sustains us.
The Senate’s replacement bill exacerbates all of these trends, to unthinkable proportions. If this proposal moves forward, we feel that the damage to our communities will be so great that we will no longer be able to support this bill. National advocates need to be honest about the state of negotiations. Republicans have made the pathway to citizenship so onerous and restricted that millions will never qualify. Prior to the Corker-Hoeven amendment the bill’s enforcement provisions and “triggers” were already unreasonable and burdensome. At what cost will we continue to make concessions? Thousands more border deaths? Our communities turned into a war zone or a police state? Massive destruction of our borderland environment? This price is too high to pay, and we ask our allies and supporters to join us in denouncing this “compromise” and demanding that the Senate begin again on a genuine reform effort, one that doesn’t play politics with our lives.
Make no mistake: this bill will lead to more deaths on the border. It is bad public policy, and it is a giant step backward for our communities and for many immigrant families. Our communities and families deserve better, and if this is the best that the Senate can offer we feel that our only option is to withdraw our support and demand that Congress begin again on crafting a genuine reform bill.
Coalición de Derecho Humanos
Alliance for Global Justice
No More Deaths / No Más Muertes
The Repeal Coalition
Humanitarian Border Solutions
Phoenix Allies for Community Health
Keep Tucson Together Clinica Legal Comunitaria
Corazón de Tucson
Community of Christ of the Desert
American Friends Service Committee – Arizona
Southside Workers’ Center
Tucson Solidarity Organizing Network
invites you to a
In the Shadow of the Wall:
A Community Report Back
Friday, May 17th
Armory Park Community Center
220 S. 5th Avenue
Photo by Murphy Woodhouse
A new academic study has analyzed the experiences of deportees all along the U.S. Mexico border. Please come to the presentation of a new report entitled “In the Shadow of the Wall” where we will discuss how Border Patrol and ICE operate, the conditions and impacts of specific enforcement programs and how this enforcement is tearing apart families and failing to accomplish any stated objectives.
The report has been features in the New York Times, the Associated Press, USA Today, PBS, CNN, NPR and Al Jazeera among others and was recently presented before Congress.
$5.00 suggested donation.
Please bring a dish to share
For more information: 520.770.1373
Demand the Prosecution of the Border Patrol Agent that Murdered Carlos Lamadrid!
On March 21, 2011, 19 year-old Carlos Lamadrid was killed by Border Patrol Agent Lucas Tidwell in broad daylight. Despite the fact that Carlos had his back to the agent and was halfway up a ladder at the time, the agent opened fire, hitting Carlos four times in the back.
After being shot, Carlos, who was still alive at the time, was handcuffed and dragged by Border Patrol agents. It took more than 45 minutes for help to arrive, and Carlos Lamadrid died as a result of his injuries.
We have been told that the U.S. Attorney is seriously considering NOT moving forward with the prosecution of Agent Tidwell, despite the fact that there are numerous witnesses and video on both sides of the border of the events of that afternoon.
We need YOU to take a moment to send a letter to the U.S. Attorneys, demanding justice for Carlos Lamadrid.
Below is the letter that Derechos Humanos has submitted. We invite you to use our language or modify it to send your own message. Please join us in demanding justice for yet another victim of Border Patrol violence!
April 19, 2013
Eric Holder, Jr.
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
John S. Leonardo
United States Attorney
District of Arizona
405 W. Congress Street, Suite 4800
Tucson, AZ 85701-5040
RE: Carlos Reynaldo Lamadrid
Dear U.S. Attorney General Holder,
As a human rights organization based in Tucson, Arizona, we are reaching out to you about a matter that has recently been brought to our attention. We have been made aware that the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Justice is currently considering whether to prosecute Border Patrol Agent Lucas Tidwell for the murder of 19 year-old Carlos Lamadrid on March 21, 2011. We are writing you to urge to you to do your due diligence and pursue justice in this case.
Carlos Lamadrid was shot four times in the back by Agent Tidwell. At the time of the shooting, he was halfway up a ladder, with his back to the agent. Although he was unarmed, we are told by witnesses that after he was shot, he was handcuffed and dragged, and that the agents may be responsible for a delay of more than 45 minutes for medical assistance to be rendered to him. There are multiple witnesses and video evidence on both sides of the border that can shed light on the events of that day. Even from the available evidence, it is blatantly clear that this was an unjustified shooting. To choose not to move forward with prosecution is unacceptable.
Our community has long suffered violence at the hands of Border Patrol agents on the border, Attorneys General Holder and Leonardo. Compounding this murder and the tragic results is the unprecedented secrecy and delay involved in these cases. Information that the public is entitled to know, as is the standard practice for police agencies across the country for officers involved in incidents, has been repeatedly denied when the perpetrators of the violence are agents of the Department of Homeland Security. This has created additional tensions within our ravaged communities, who feel that agents often act with a complete disregard for the communities in which they work and impunity when they violate the rights of those they encounter. This must not be permitted to continue.
We urge you to move forward with the prosecution of Agent Tidwell for this heinous murder. The Department of Homeland Security operates within our communities. Border Patrol agents must live and work among our families, schools, and homes. We must be able to trust that their actions are held to the same standard of justice that any of us would be held to. The events in this case deserve a fair and thorough investigation, and the friends and family of Carlos Lamadrid deserve the closure that only justice can provide.
We thank you for your time and attention in this matter.
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
For Immediate Release
April 19, 2013
Contact: Derechos Humanos: 520-770-1373
SENATE’S “GANG OF 8” REFORM BILL:
ENORMOUS EXPENDITURE FOR WALLS, DRONES, SURVEILLANCE, AGENTS, NATIONAL ID SYSTEM, GUARANTEES FOR BIG BUSINESS, MASS FIRINGS, INCREASES IN DEPORTATIONS AND CRIMINALIZATION, LIMITATIONS ON FAMILY IMMIGRATION, AND VERY LITTLE LEGALIZATION FOR WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Tucson – After decades of working and suffering attacks on their humanity, an estimated 11 million undocumented workers and their families were optimistic after the results of last year’s election, that the Senate’s eight-member group, tasked with the drafting of a bill to deal with the regularization of their status, would finally fix the irresponsible immigration system. It has instead opted for an unprecedented expansion of policing and military-style border and interior build-up. The purported “path to citizenship” is a cruel misrepresentation that has brought out both the anti-immigrant voices to cry out that 11 million “should not receive citizenship,” and, the immigrant community to believe that a fair process for their legalization will be put in place. Neither is a reality.
The bill makes it clear that only a relatively few will be able to qualify for and receive the six-year temporary worker permit, known as “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) as the requirements are unreasonable and intended to severely limit those who can proceed in this temporary status, renewable at additional costs for another six years, before even being able to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. While deportations continue, this process cannot even begin until the “border security” triggers are met. Essentially, the normal legalization process BEGINS after ten years of RPI status, and ONLY if the person is able to pay substantial fees, fines and other costs related to the process, prove what he or she earned and what taxes you have paid, and pay any back taxes, among other requirements. After three years of LPR status, and the paying of additional fees, fines, and other costs, those individuals can apply for citizenship – in other words, 13 years from date of receiving the RPI status, and even that is after a minimum of a five year process to build more fences and meet ambiguous “proof” that the border is secure. The only groups that are receiving more favorable relief are the DREAM Act youth and those in the Agricultural Program. The text devoted to “citizenship” is the smallest relevant portion of this legislation, and yet, this is called a “Path to Citizenship” bill by media and the politicians alike.
The most significant part of this proposed legislation, however, is the dramatic escalation of a “war zone” environment , particularly along the border regions, which comes at an obscene expense to the taxpayers, (an additional $5.5 billion to the $18 billion spent last year), and will cause even heavier costs: to the human and civil rights of immigrants, border residents, and entire communities who suffer the consequences of separation of their families and friends, as well as living with the heavy “policing” of our communities, particularly with measures that consolidate the collaboration of all local law enforcement with the BP and ICE; the economic devastation of cities and towns; the environmental destruction of our precious border lands; the prosecution, conviction, and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of migrants for the crime of “unlawful entry,” again, at a tremendous human and financial cost. All this will provide a huge profit for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which stands to at least triple its annual profit if this bill becomes law, and for other prison/military corporate contractors as well, many of whom already benefit from “no-bid” contracts. The requirement of 100% surveillance along the border, together with the use of the National Guard, the building of more walls, the use of unmanned drones, and other military-type strategies called for in the bill show their intention to make our communities live in a militarized, war-like zone.
A vast majority of the public has historically fought against the creation of a National ID, realizing the critical importance of our civil liberties and rights to privacy are fundamental to our personal sense of freedom. The bill proposed by the Senators mandates employer verification of a worker’s immigration status, through the creation of a national E-Verify system, is a direct road to a National ID. Non-citizens will be required to show their “biometric work authorization card” or their “biometric green card.” Most pernicious is the requirement that states be pushed to include ALL of their state driver’s license information, including photographs, in E-Verify. This merger would create a giant photo database of everyone in the country – citizen and non-citizen alike — which could potentially be accessed anywhere by internet. The possibilities of uses in other scenarios are numerous and dangerous.
As we tout the importance of family, this bill changes this priority by removing two preference categories from the family-based immigration process, brothers and sisters of U. S. citizens, and married sons and daughters of citizens if over 30 years of age, as well as creating “merit” based visas and repealing the Diversity Visa Program, an important avenue for African and Caribbean immigrants. Importantly, the bill provides no avenue for LBGTQ families to reunite.
Lastly, the Senators propose an expansion and streamlining of H-1B visas, and creation of a new visa, the W-Visa, for “lower-skilled” worker, assuring private industry of new laborers, while ignoring the very core of the issue of immigration –the reasons for migration and particularly the role US foreign political and economic policies play in those sending countries migration patterns. Without this aspect, the word ‘comprehensive’ is meaningless when used to describe immigration reform.
The undocumented community has worked, has suffered, and has enriched all of our lives. It is time we as a nation do what is right, “pay our debt” to our immigrant brothers and sisters by passing real reform of our laws that reflect the reality, that respect each other and other nations, that address the root causes of migration, and that finally de-militarize our borders and communities so that we may all live and work together in peace.
Our statement is based on reading several congressional staff summaries provided to media and others. We will continue to analyze the bill to understand more fully all its provisions.
Download the statement here