Last week saw the National Day of Action against Border Militarization in which organizations across the country spoke out on one of the most controversial subjects in the immigration reform debate.
Organizations from El Paso to Milwaukee joined the day of action. The Corker-Hoeven Amendment in S744 is seen by many as a concession to the quixotic demand of immigration restrictionists and nativists to “seal the border.”
Earlier this month, Representative Filemon Vela quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus over the organization’s acceptance of border militarization. Organizations like the Border Network of Human Rights have made strong, principled stances on the measure, and led the charge in opposing the buildup of force in border communities. Presente.org raised serious questions about the worthiness of S744 with the Corker-Hoeven amendment included.
While “militarization” is an unattractive word, promoters of the policy have done little to dispossess its detractors of that opinion. Both conservative and liberal senators have called the amendment a “border surge,” alluding to the so-called surge in Iraq seen as a major turning point in the US-led war. The increased use of drones included in the Corker-Hoeven amendment has also drawn a great deal of ire, mostly due to associations with the constitutionally circumspect use of the technology in American combat theaters around the world.
Opinions on border militarization vary from bad to worse within the immigrant rights movement. Undue focus on the border overall has always been seen as either pointless or even shorthand for opposing Mexican immigration altogether, it being true that most immigrants without status came by other means. Furthermore, the Center for Immigration Studies has relied on extremely unscientific means to suggest an uptick in border crossings. CIS got busted earlier this year relying on a “group of ranchers” to substantiate an exciting but ultimately frivolous claim of a five-hundred percent increase in border crossings.
“Border security” is an easy frame in which to portray immigrants as a threat to those around them; so, aside from doing little to address a real problem, it makes prejudice and misunderstanding even worse.