U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporarily closed the San Ysidro border crossing in San Diego on the morning of Nov. 19, 2018. With 100,000 people and 40,000 vehicles crossing each day, San Ysidro is one of the most heavily crossed land borders in the world — and CBP’s actions came during Monday morning rush hour.
Much of the public discussion of our southern border today is one-sided. It is most often created by those with the most power and the loudest bullhorn; those in search of power, authority and money. So, it should come as no surprise to you that much of what we have been told about the border and of those who come to it are either not true or are highly exaggerated. It is after all the result of nearly a hundred years worth of the Border Patrol’s racist rhetoric and racist politicians creating ever more unfair and biased laws and policies. Many of which have little to do with creating an immigration system and more about scapegoating migrants for political and racist purposes while trying to make money off it. For more on this history, please take a look at this recent amicus brief on the history of our immigration laws.
It’s no surprise that there are claims of a new crisis on our border. A new year, a new administration, new policies in regard to who can cross and how they are processed will always bring a crisis claim from one side or the other. Depending on which side you are on politically often determines how you feel about migrants coming to our country. Conservatives usually feel we allow too many migrants to enter; liberals believe we should allow more. That is a generalized statement of course. There are all sorts of nuances about our immigration policies and what we believe to be the best course of action. In my activism, I have come across few who believe we should have completely closed or completely open borders. Most want humane immigration laws, but with some reasonable amount of precautions to protect Americans from truly dangerous people.
Persecution is not typically doled out to those who recite mainstream pieties, or refrain from posing meaningful threats to those who wield institutional power, or obediently stay within the lines of permissible speech and activism imposed by the ruling class. Those who render themselves acquiescent and harmless that way will — in every society, including the most repressive — usually be free of reprisals. They will not be censored or jailed. They will be permitted to live their lives largely unmolested by authorities, while many will be well-rewarded for this servitude. Such individuals will see themselves as free because, in a sense, they are: they are free to submit, conform and acquiesce.
The climate crisis, wars, violent states and economic crashes are driving migration around the world and in this capitalist global environment, it is no surprise that a profiteering industrial complex has evolved. I speak with Siobhan McGuirk and Adrienne Pine, co-authors of "Asylum for Sale: Profit and protest in the migration industry," about the ways capitalism both drives migration and benefits from it. They discuss who has the resources to migrate, the problem with how asylum-seeking is framed in the public discourse and courts and the diverse international resistance that is forming to demand universal access to asylum.
Like many of you, I’ve watched the reports and rumors of expected ICE raids, images of adults and children in U.S. concentration camps and the attacks on asylum seekers with horror. The large-scale ICE raids that officials have hinted at haven’t yet materialized as I write this, but they’ve succeeded in what may have been their real objective: terrorizing immigrant communities. Central and South Americans seem to be mainly in the crosshairs, but they’re far from the only ones.
Armed right-wing militias have been systematically detaining asylum-seekers at gunpoint along the US-Mexico border in operations that are apparently coordinated with the federal Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agency. The role of one particular group in detaining immigrants, the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), came to light this week after the group uploaded several videos on social media, showing its members masked, dressed in camouflage, heavily armed and walking with dogs as they “patrolled” the border and corralled several hundred asylum seekers in Sunland Park, New Mexico, just outside El Paso, Texas.
Last week a jury in Boston Federal Court convicted Rwandan asylum seeker Jean Leonard Teganya of fraud and perjury for lying on his immigration papers about his involvement in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. In other words, yet another racist, chauvinist, Western court convicted yet another African of participating in mass violence that the US and its Western allies engineeredin order to expand their imperial influence in East and Central Africa at the expense of France. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. In July 1994, Teganya crossed from Rwanda into Congo with millions of other Rwandans, mostly Hutus, who were fleeing the advancing Tutsi army led by General Paul Kagame.
As news broke of plain-clothed officers arresting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday morning UK time, the world's media converged to Westminster Magistrates Court rapidly. While Mr Assange’s lawyer delayed the hearing with a late arrival, the WikiLeaks founder nonchalantly brought out a book to read sitting in a glassed dock facing the press gallery that included The National. Journalists from around the world, as far as Russia, had packed the press gallery and squeezed into the public gallery. Camera crews had swamped Westminster Crown Court’s front entrance, as approximately ten Assange supporters unfurled banners demanding his release.
Suzie Dawson is a long time political activist who deserves our support. She is currently leading efforts to defend Julian Assange for his work as publisher of Wikileaks. See Unity4J at https://twitter.com/Unity4J and join the weekly Friday night web vigils. In the article below she describes the character assassination attacks against her. Dawson is a New Zealand journalist who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia.
Democrats called Murdock’s comments “disturbing,” especially since Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has often told asylum seekers to go through the process rather than crossing into the country illegally. CBP officials say that the comments by Murdock were taken out of context. “During this briefing, CBP reiterated what we have said numerous times, that with the influx of Central American family units arriving at our ports of entry without proper documentation, and crossing our borders illegally, the processing system at CBP and our partner agencies has hit capacity,” Corry Schiermeyer, CBP press secretary, told BuzzFeed. “As more people are processed, the capacity challenges increase, and become unsustainable.”
The Trump administration announced a new policy that effectively guts the right of asylum for refugees from Central America. From now on, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin expelling non-Mexican refugees as soon as they have made application for asylum after crossing the US-Mexico border. They will be immediately deported to Mexico instead of being allowed to stay in the US pending the adjudication of their asylum claims. The Mexican government, taking its orders from Washington, will not oppose these deportations or bring any legal action against the United States for a policy that is in flagrant violation of international law. Its only concession to the refugees is that Mexico will not confine them in US-style detention camps.
Navneet Kaur, from Salem, Ore., was part of a team of 56 to 60 drivers from the Post Detention Respite Network who waited in shifts outside the federal prison in Sheridan to pick up detainees after they’d been released. “It shocked me because it’s not part of the country where people would send detainees,” she said. “Reflexive action was to jump in and help in whatever way I could.” Kaur is a Sikh from Punjab, India, and also provided translation services. She has been in the United States for 18 years, and in Oregon for 15. She is a member of the Sikh Center in Salem, where many of the detainees found shelter following their release.
According to the Courage Foundation, which has campaigned against the persecution of Julian Assange, the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has forbidden access to all visitors to the WikiLeaks publisher, including his lawyers, until Monday, amid an urgent lawsuit. Most immediately, the ban obstructs a legal appeal by Assange against an Ecuadorian judge’s decision last week to uphold a draconian “protocol” that President Lenín Moreno’s government has sought to impose on him, in fundamental violation of the right to political asylum. The protocol essentially bars Assange from making any political comments whatsoever, because they might be deemed detrimental to the interests of Ecuador’s government or any other government.
Before being abruptly cut off by an Ecuadorian government lawyer during a court hearing on Monday, WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange accused that government of seeking to end his asylum in its London embassy and hand him over to the United States. Assange spoke from the tiny embassy via teleconference to a hearing in Quito of a lawsuit in which he is challenging a draconian protocol that President Lenín Moreno’s government has sought to impose on him. Assange said the new rules were a sign Ecuador was trying to push him out, and that Moreno had already decided to end his asylum but had not yet officially given the order.