At the Border Issues fair (January 14, 2017) at the UCC Church of the Good Shepherd in Sahuarita, Arizona Margo Cowan, Pima County Public Defender who has helped hundreds of undocumented Dreamers to get DACA - permission to study, obtain driver's licenses and work, challenged us to become Voceros or spokespeople in our communities. She helped start Keep Tucson Together that sponsors weekly legal clinics and a movement to grant identity cards to all Tucsonians. "There is no them or us, she said, only US!"
How can we be voceros? We need to reframe the public discussion on immigration. There are other ways that we can be welcoming communities - Think of Germany that has welcomed and integrated one million refugees this past year. Governments have the power to determine how people will be received. Germany created 100,000 new jobs for immigrants in 2016 - they see the new immigrants contributing to the growth of their economy!
Where is our imagination? This past Sunday during the women's march (Tucson) one of the chants was "Refugees and Immigrants are Welcome here!" That is being a vocero! At the Saturday rally outside City Hall in Tucson we were demanding that Tucson become a Sanctuary City offering safe haven to all its residents.
Poster at the Sanctuary Rally Tucson, AZ - 01/20/17
Be persistent! Look at the courage of the Dreamers who came out of the shadows and said that we have the right to be here in the United States - our parents brought us when we were little. Never underestimate the power and resilience of immigrant communities. US Senators Jeff Flake and Lindsay Graham have introduced the Bridge Act which would provide an extended reprieve from deportation to Dreamers.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are promoting the so-called Bridge Act, which would allow at least 740,000 young immigrants who have gotten deportation reprieves and work permits under Obama to keep those benefits for three more years if they are revoked. (Source: Politico, 12/16/2016)
FACTS AND FIGURES - BORDER TRUTHS AND MYTHS
I am back in Tucson, Arizona for another volunteer stint working with Central American refugees and immigrants. I work with three organizations:Tucson Samaritans,http://www.tucsonsamaritans.org/;CasaAlitas,https://www.facebook.com/pg/Alitasprogram/about/?ref=page_internal, a shelter for women and children migrants and Casa Mariposa Border Detention Center Visitation Project - volunteers from Phoenix and Tucson visit detainees twice a week at the private corporation detention center in Tucson.
GOAL: An interactive blog!
What do you want to know about the border? The Central American and Mexican and others in the Detention Center? Why do people cross the southern border to enter the USA? Who are these people? Where do they come from? I want to hear from you - questions, concerns, ideas, feedback - all of it. I want this blog to educate and to dispell myths and yes, talk about hard issues that have divided our country.
FACT OR MYTH: THE USA NEEDS A WALL ALONG THE SOUTHERN BORDER WITH MEXICO.
QUESTION: ISN'T THERE ALREADY A WALL?
According to the US Border Patrol, Congressional Reports and a Global Security.org website, there is between 651 to 670 miles of wall already installed - see map above. However, there is approximately 2000 miles of border between the USA and Mexico.
The current wall consists of double fencing approximately 21 feet tall. There is 352 miles of pedestrian wall primarily at ports of entry such as Nogales, AZ - photo of that wall on my blog main page and 299 miles of vehicular fence in remote and isolated areas of the SW border with Mexico.
IS THE WALL EFFECTIVE?
There is no one answer to this question. A recent research project Migrant Border Crossing Study conducted in 2008 and 2011 found that "walls are good at keeping people in, not out - in effect, the 'caging effect'. Seasonal farmworkers used to move back and forth across the border before it became a criminal felony to enter the USA with papers. Border enforcement in fact has interrupted the seasonal labor practice.
It is estimated that there are 11 million undocumented people in the USA: 5 million are families with children; 1 million are children and 10 million are mixed status families (one family member is either a US citizen or has permanent residency. The study found that the average border crosser from Mexico was someone who had lived at least ten years in the USA.
Dr. Daniel Martinez found that most border crossers are strongly motivated by "strong affectual ties" to the USA - in plain language, they want to be with their families and community. The strongest deterrent is the criminalization of the border resulting in long stays in detention centers and as a criminal alien less likely to ever become a US citizen.
The complete study is posted on my Resources page. Warning: It is long but the abstract is short!
Now for your questions and comments. I want to hear from you! Thanks, Pat LOVE THIS QUOTE!
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?