Border Issues

TGIF: Links 'n' Such

A homeless man on San Francisco's Mission Street. Photo by Franco Folini, www.flickr.com/photos/livenature/

The Gubbio Project, which helps churches become refuges for homeless people throughout the U.S., recently earned a new fan: Author Anne Rice. "When I was in San Francisco, I visited St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin and was moved by the sight of many peaceful homeless people sleeping in the pews of the church," Rice wrote on her Facebook.com page earlier this month. The author of the Vampire Lestat books and most recently the biblically-themed Christ the Lord novels and her spiritual memoir, Called Out of Darkness, provided her "people of the page" as she calls them, a link to the Gubbio Project where they could donate to "this fine work on the part of the Franciscans of St. Boniface in helping the homeless."

Predator Drones on Our Borders

You cannot hear them. You cannot see them. But Predator drones—pilotless aircraft typically used in combat in Afghanistan and Pakistan—are flying in U.S. air space, scouring the land and sea along U.S. borders in search of large shipments of drugs and undocumented immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security already uses five weaponless Predator drones along the Southwest and Canadian borders for surveillance and tracking and plans to expand their use of drones in the coming months.

Homeland Security officials laud the Predator drones as effective surveillance tools that utilize less human power with greater results. Human-piloted aircraft can be deployed for up to 12 or 13 hours, but pilotless surveillance drones can last up to 22 hours, and with the right weather conditions, drones can survey more land and sea than any other machine. So far, it is estimated that Predator drones have aided in the seizure of more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana and the apprehension of about 5,000 undocumented immigrants.
For immigration activists, however, increased military enforcement at the borders doesn’t get at the real problem. “No amount of militarization will bring peace of mind to the people of the United States,” Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told Sojourners. “A drone can spot warm bodies getting through, but can they inquire about a refugee’s reasons for fleeing his [or her] country of origin?”

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine April 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Good Samaritans

Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, both 23, face felony charges for aiding people in the Arizona desert who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Their appeal to have the case against them dismissed was denied in January. Sellz and Strauss are volunteers with No More Deaths, a Tucson, Arizona-based coalition of faith-based groups that advocates for immigrant reform and provides food, water, and medical care to migrants crossing the desert.

Sellz told Sojourners she joined No More Deaths after living near the border and “witnessing countless instances where people were on the sides of the roads and no one was stopping to help.” Sellz and Strauss were arrested last July when they took three migrants to a hospital in Tucson. U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton charged the volunteers with transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy. Combined, the charges carry a maximum of 15 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, or both. Sellz said they are being prosecuted “for something I believe is not only right and legal, but is really necessary.” A record number of migrants—282—died near the Arizona-Sonora border between July 2004 and July 2005.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine March 2006
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Border Calling

050322.html

The only thing separating El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is a canal that a child could wade across. That, plus a gross disparity in job availability, wages, and quality of life. Not to mention official U.S. border policies designed to keep undocumented guest workers out, even while unofficial economic policies all but encourage American farms, restaurants, and hotels to hold consumer prices down by hiring undocumented laborers for the roughest, most menial work.

And so every year perhaps up to 4,000 people - no one is sure exactly how many - wade north across the canal when they think the Border Patrol isn’t looking, or wedge themselves into the nooks of cars or vans crossing one of the congested bridges linking the cities across the Rio Grande, or pay coyotes and polleros - people-smugglers, the latter term meaning "chicken wranglers" - to sneak them across by some other means. Today, 8 to 12 million undocumented immigrants are in the United States, many of them living in hiding and in poverty.

Yet they needn’t live without a home. Since the late 1970s, El Paso’s Annunciation House has opened its doors to immigrants and refugees on the U.S.-Mexico border. The 20-volunteer organization includes a residence for immigrants trying to get on their feet, as well as separate facilities for those seeking political asylum and for women and children, and a building in a Juárez squatters’ neighborhood that provides support and space for community-building efforts. Sometimes the Border Patrol looks the other way; sometimes it arrests Annunciation House volunteers. In early 2003, an agent shot and killed a 19-year-old guest who was running away with a pipe in his hand.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine March 2005
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Men With Guns

In the southeastern corner of Arizona, Cochise County rides the Mexican border. And there's a burr under its saddle.

Armed civilian groups are patrolling the international boundary, scouting the rolling grasslands and rough hills for people who have entered the United States illegally, and in many cases detaining them until the U.S. Border Patrol arrives to take them into custody. The leaders of these militias say they are compensating for inadequate government enforcement of misguided immigration policies that allow undocumented workers, drug smugglers, and possibly terrorists to "swarm" across the border, damaging private property, harming the environment, and intimidating rural residents.

Human-rights organizations charge that these militias terrorize people they assume to be undocumented immigrants, violate state laws limiting militia activities and civilian arrests, escalate the potential for violence, and maintain links to racist hate groups.

"People were already being harassed by the Border Patrol, and now things have gotten even worse," says Jennifer Allen of the Tucson-based Border Action Network. Mexican Americans born and raised in the United States, she says, "used to go out hunting or hiking, but they've been dragged out of their tents and harassed to such a degree that they don't go out of the city anymore. And now these vigilantes are out there with the attitude that if you're brown and out in the desert, you must be an undocumented migrant. So even the residents are in danger because the vigilante groups are bringing people in that are racist and hunting for anyone with brown skin."

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine July-August 2003
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Straddling the Border

BorderLinks, a binational organization educating people about the realities of the U.S.-Mexico border, has always been good at getting personal without thinking small. More than a thousand people from the United States participate in its educational delegations each year, and almost all stay overnight and break bread with families in the colonias (poor neighborhoods) of Nogales, in the state of Sonora, Mexico.

"What distinguishes BorderLinks is that it's very relationship-based," says staff member Heather Craigie. That commitment has stayed constant during the past 15 years, as the group has become a vibrant combination of community center, think tank, conference catalyst, micro-enterprise innovator, and educational tourism bureau.

Born in the late 1980s as part of the sanctuary movement, BorderLinks initially brought delegations to the U.S. border to experience the realities faced by refugees from U.S.-supported conflicts in Central America. Today, the group focuses on globalization's impact. NAFTA-induced changes in farm policy are driving many former campesinos to U.S. service jobs or low-paid urban labor pools for Mexican maquilas (foreign-owned export factories), and communities face health problems, massive poverty, crime, and environmental devastation.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine March-April 2003
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe