Every day the republican governors of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Florida, Ron DeSantis, eagerly announce that they are sending people generically labeled as migrants to what are known as sanctuary cities. The corporate media report that thousands of people have been convinced to board buses to New York City or Washington DC or Sacramento or Chicago or even chartered flights to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. What they don’t explain is who these migrants are and why their status is highly problematic and a function of imperialist foreign policy. Republicans rail against what are called sanctuary cities and imply that federal law doesn’t apply in these places or that undocumented people get some sort of special deal. However, the term sanctuary city doesn’t really mean very much.
Harsha Walia has been involved in anti-colonial and anti-capitalist migrant justice movements for the past two decades. Her first book, Undoing Border Imperialism, offered a movement analysis of the foundational connections between migration, borders and imperialism, with insights into the grassroots organizing her work comes out of. Building on this, her latest work, Border and Rule offers a crucial resource for going beyond nation-based thinking about border regimes around the world and building an internationalist movement for their abolition. In Border and Rule, Walia avoids comparisons of one border regime or another as “worse” or “better,” focusing on how borders are consistently a “method of capital” involved in seizing and holding territory and in the segmentation of the working class.
The Global Migration Indicators report by the International Organization for Migration is here, with an update on how COVID-19 affected migration around the world. The report says more than 2,300 migrants died while trying to get into Europe or within Europe in 2020. While the pandemic restricted mobility and reduced international migration, still, there were two hundred and eighty-one million international migrants in the middle of 2020. That is close to four per cent of the world’s population.
Today, Government Accountability Project, filed its second complaint with federal oversight agencies detailing abuses at the Fort Bliss, Texas Emergency Intake Site (EIS) for unaccompanied immigrant children. Government Accountability Project’s first complaint, dated July 7, 2021, is attached as an exhibit to this second complaint. The Fort Bliss EIS is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’s) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The children are in the custody of ORR. Fort Bliss is one of several EISs holding them, ostensibly on a temporary basis. The information disclosed in the second complaint was provided by Arthur Pearlstein and Lauren Reinhold, current career federal civil servants and attorneys who volunteered to support ORR’s work.
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.
Each year, untold numbers of migrants disappear in the borderlands after being pushed into dangerous and remote terrain by Border Patrol, the same agency that is then tasked with responding to migrants’ search and rescue emergencies. A new report released Wednesday found that the federal agency does not respond to 40% of these emergency calls. In a series of reports published over the course of five years, the southern Arizona organizations No More Deaths and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos have cataloged and reported the specific Border Patrol policies and tactics that have fueled a crisis of death and disappearance in the borderlands. The first report, released in 2016, detailed the 1994 Border Patrol policy “Prevention Through Deterrence” in which the United States militarized
Humanitarian organizations are being penalized for fulfilling responsibilities abandoned by European governments at the world’s deadliest border, activists have warned after an eventful weekend in the Mediterranean. Late on Friday, the Louise Michel rescue ship was alerted by a charity reconnaissance plane Moonbird to a boat carrying 130 refugees in distress inside Malta’s search-and-rescue zone. The ship, funded by street artist Banksy and run by a seasoned team of rescuers, had already picked up 89 people in previous operations and so, unable to bring everyone on board, the crew waited for hours into Saturday for Malta or Italy to assist. “A crew of 10 is now onboard a 30m ship with 219 survivors,” Lousie Michel tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “[Thirty-three] are still on a life raft and one deceased person in a body bag.”
The humanitarian group No More Deaths said an aid camp it operates for migrants crossing the desert was raided and then surrounded by Border Patrol agents. The group said the move as an escalation of tensions at a time when the aid they provide is vital. Byrd Camp is located near Arivaca and serves as a medical aid site for people passing through one of the deadliest desert corridors of the borderland. No More Deaths volunteer Emily Saunders said Border Patrol usually allows activities there to continue. But in late July, agents entered the property and arrested a migrant receiving care.
Increasing drug and gang-related violence and poverty—an estimated 59% of Guatemalans live in poverty, most of whom are indigenous—are not the ingredients of a safe and secure environment. This environment is largely a result of the legacy of more than half a century of U.S. policy, intervention, and corporate interest and its deleterious effect on Guatemala’s people. The U.S. intervention model has failed in Guatemala. It has used a nation rich in natural resources and in cultural tradition as a tool for extractive resources and for cheap labor. It has relied upon coercion to repress dissent over the failure to provide either decent livelihood or safety for most of its people.
International accompaniers must work to undo the power dynamics they rely on to increase the safety of their local partners and learn when to say "no." There is only one migrant shelter in Agua Prieta, a town on the south side of the United States’ border with Mexico. The Centro de Atención al Migrante “Exodus,” or CAME, has offered hospitality to migrants for the past 19 years. With a shift in patterns of migration that led hundreds of asylum-seeking families to Agua Prieta in the first months of 2019, CAME has housed over 150 people at a time in a space built for 50 people — with a wait list of nearly 500 more.
The most successful of Trump’s anti-immigrant measures up until now — and possibly the most vicious — hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves. In operation since late January, Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), originally called “Remain in Mexico,” allows the U.S. government to push most non-Mexican asylum seekers into Mexico once immigration officials have cleared them to make an asylum claim. As of early September, the number of people forced into Mexico under MPP had reportedly risen to more than 42,000. Immigration authorities say that these migrants are able to pursue their asylum cases while waiting in Mexico, but this is nonsense.
Mrs. Hidalgo, you want to get my medal for my solidarian action in the Mediterranean Sea, because our crews work to rescue migrants from difficult conditions on a daily basis. At the same time your police are stealing blankets from people that you force to live on the streets, while you raid protests and criminalize people who are standing up for migrants and asylum seekers. You want to give me a medal for actions that you fight in your own ramparts. I am sure you will be surprised that I decline the Grand Vermeil medal.
About a thousand migrants and asylum seekers entered Paris's Pantheon Friday and briefly occupied the vaunted memorial complex to demand talks with the prime minister on legalizing their undocumented status, activists said. The undocumented migrants, members of the 'Black Vest' collective, taking their name from the anti-government 'Yellow Vests' protesting throughout France since last November, entered the historic complex at around midday, a member of the Chapelle Debout collective said.
We’re talking about the safety and security of minors who are unable to fend for themselves. Republicans certainly can be opposed to undocumented migration and still not turn their backs on children. And Democrats can insist that money be appropriated to ensure the safety and physical wellbeing of these same children without being accused of being “weak on illegal immigration.” Forget the politics. We can’t lose our humanity.
Today, December 18th, the world celebrates International Migrants Day, and SOA Watch wants to express, above all, our solidarity with and love for all people who are forced to flee their countries of origin. According to the latest UNHCR report, "Global Trends: Forced Displacement 2017", 68.5 million people worldwide have been forced to leave their homes due to wars, famines, and other political conflicts -- 24.4 million of these people have received refugee status in the countries of destination. It is important to note that these figures do not reflect the magnitude of the horror that those who are forced from their homeland face.