On the Trail with the Border Angels

by DAN BACHER

The Border Angels finished their historic 4500 mile "Marcha Migrante III" from San Diego to Canada and back on Sunday, February 17.

The group, a human rights organizations founded in 1986 by Enrique Morones to stop the unnecessary deaths of people traveling across the U.S./Mexico border areas of San Diego County and the Imperial Valley, chose to make the 4500 mile caravan, "Marcha Migrante III," to remember the 4500 immigrants that have died in the border region between U.S. and Mexico. The march went through 40 cities with the message of "Su Voto Es Su Voz," (Your Vote is Your Voice).

Immigration across the border of economic and political refugees from Mexico and Central America has increased dramatically in recent years, the result of decades of U.S.-engineered civil wars and genocide in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, combined with the economic devastation caused to indigenous communities in Mexico and Central caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

"The people of this country will elect a new president this November," said Morones at a press conference with supporters of the Border Angels at the state capitol in Sacramento on February 6. "We are not supporting any particular presidential candidate – we want to get the candidates to support immigration reform as a pathway for legalization. There are 12 million undocumented workers in this country."

The first Marcha Migrante, from February 2 to February 28, 2006, went from San Diego to Washington D.C. The theme of this march was to say "No to HR 4437," a odious piece of anti-immigrant legislation. "After 3-1/2 million people took to the streets in April and more protested in May, the bill was defeated in Congress," said Morones.

The second Marcha Migrante in 2007 traveled from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas to collect the stories of migrants to bring to Washington D.C.

Eric Guerra, staff person for State Senator Gil Cedillo, emphasized that immigrants are essential to the economy and culture of California, with 30 percent of the state’s people being immigrants from other countries. "Cedillo strongly supports your efforts to get out the vote," said Guerra.

Other speakers at the news conference included Cinthya Munoz from Sacramento City College Brown Issues and MECHA, Jose Sandoval of Voluntarios de La Communidad, Armando Gutierrez from the CSUS Mecha, and Daniel Morales, Treasurer of the GI Forum.

Munoz, who helped organized pro-immigrant rallies and marches in Sacramento in 2006, said it was good that the "Marcha Migrante" was bringing into the public eye again the issue of immigrant rights and deaths on the border. "People are dying on the border," she said. "The issue hasn’t gone away, even though millions aren’t turning out in the streets like they were in 2006."

After departing from the press conference in Sacramento, Morones and his supporters drove to Medford, Eugene, Woodburn, and Portland, Oregon. They traveled on to Seattle, Washington and the U.S./Canada border. An action with immigrant rights activist Elvira Arellano was planned on the Canadian side of the border, but the Canadian government refused to issue her a visa.

The group then traveled through Yakima, Washington, Boise, Idaho and Salt Lake Lake City, Utah to urge citizens in Latino communities to get out and vote. They finished their journey with an evening vigil in North Las Vegas on February 16, followed by their return to San Diego and a one-mile walk to the border at 1 p.m. on February 17.

During the spring and summer months, the Border Angels install 340 water stations in the Imperial Valley Desert and surrounding areas. With temperatures reaching as high as 127 degrees, water is critical for survival. Volunteers maintain stations each weekend throughout the spring and summer.

During the fall and winter, the group establishes critical life-saving stations throughout the San Diego Mountain areas. Winter clothing, food and water are placed in winter storage bins to help decrease negative health results from being exposed to the freezing temperature changes that exists in the San Diego County mountain areas this time of year.

The organization also educates citizens and government officials on the status of weather related deaths and racial-discrimination crime deaths. "The Border Angels are proud supporters of equal rights," according to Morones.

The organization has opposed the racist scapegoating of immigrants by the Minutemen and other anti-immigrant organizations. When the Minutemen descended on San Diego in the spring and summer of 2005, Morones and other activists responded by forming the Gente Unida – "United People"–coalition – and employed creative ways to disrupt the Minutemen’s activities.

More recently, the Border Angels were successful in pressuring CalTrans to remove "Adopt-A-Highway" signs emblazoned with the "Minutemen" name on a two-mile northbound stretch of Interstate 5, north of San Diego, near where Border Patrol agents stop motorists and search for undocumented workers.

Enrique Morones and the Border Angels are true modern day heroes whose goal is to save the lives of people, forced by the impact of U.S. economic and foreign policy in Latin America and oppression by the reactionary regime of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, to migrate across the border in dangerous conditions to seek work.

For more information, call Enrique Morones at (619) 977-9467.

DAN BACHER can be reached at: danielbacher@fishsniffer.com








 


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece