FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Brutality of "Border Security"

by NATHAN GOODMAN

Last Thursday, the US Senate passed an expansive “immigration reform” bill. The bill’s Hoeven-Corker Amendment would increase the US government’s “border security” spending to $46.3 billion.

This money will be used to create what John McCain calls “the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall,” staffed by at least 38,405 Border Patrol agents. That’s a larger force than George W. Bush had stationed in Afghanistan when he left office. No wonder it’s been called the “border surge.”

Those agents will be armed with billions of dollars worth of equipment from America’s leading war profiteers. According to the Washington Post, the bill demands “among other items, six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems that cost $9.3 million each, 15 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters that average more than $17 million apiece, and eight light enforcement helicopters made by American Eurocopter that sell for about $3 million each.” As usual, militarization means obscene corporate profits at taxpayer expense.

Moreover, increasing “border security” funding means expanding an agency whose members routinely violate civil liberties and have even committed murder. John Carlos Frey has documented 10 instances where Border Patrol agents have shot innocent Mexicans on Mexican soil. In one case, 16-year old José Antonio Rodríguez was shot eight times when he went to buy a hot dog in the border town of Nogales.  In another incident, Frey explains, “a husband and wife were celebrating the birthday of their two daughters. The husband got shot and killed, shot in the heart.” This is what Border Patrol agents do to peaceful people who haven’t even crossed the border.

When immigrants cross the border, they are subjected to further violence. In 2010, 42-year old migrant worker Anastasio Rojas was tased and beaten to death by a dozen officers. These sorts of murders are rarely prosecuted. And while such overt murders are relatively rare, the Border Patrol has caused still more deaths indirectly. Migrants travel across dangerous deserts, and often die of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Activists with No More Deaths regularly leave water on travel routes to try to save immigrants’ lives. Border Patrol agents have slashed open, kicked over, and dumped out these water bottles, effectively condemning immigrants to suffering and death.

The Senate bill would spend billions of dollars to support war profiteers and murderers, and for what? The stated goal is to “secure the border.” This is an utterly unjustifiable goal. The border between the US and Mexico was drawn through violent conquest and the theft of indigenous lands. Ultimately, border security is not a protection of property rights, but a violation of property rights. If you want to invite a friend from Mexico to work with you or visit you on your own personal property, the state’s border agents use force to prevent that.

Moreover, “securing the border” particularly means hurting indigenous people. The Tohono O’oodham Nation has members on both sides of the border. As Eileen Luna-Firebaugh explains, “Those who continue to use traditional border crossing areas are in danger of being shot by U.S. Border Patrol personnel, U.S. military, or vigilante citizen groups. For a young Texas shepherd named Ezequiel, U.S. military personnel who opened fire while he tended his goatherd along the Texas-Mexico border cut life short.” Should indigenous communities be split apart by militarized violence so that an imaginary line in the sand can be “secure?”

Ultimately, “border security” means violence and brutality. It means financing murderers and war profiteers. It means impeding freedom of movement, violating individual rights, and dividing indigenous communities. Let’s stop this violence. Instead of securing the border, let’s abolish it.

Nathan Goodman is a writer and activist living in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has been involved in LGBT, feminist, anti-war, and prisoner solidarity organizing. In addition to writing at the Center for a Stateless Society, he blogs at Dissenting Leftist.

More articles by:

Nathan Goodman is the Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS.org). He blogs at Dissenting Leftist.

January 23, 2018
Carl Boggs
Doomsday Panic in Hawaii
Mark Ashwill
If I Were US Ambassador to Vietnam…
Jack Rasmus
US Government Shutdown: Democrats Blink…Again
Nick Pemberton
The Inherent Whiteness of “Our Revolution”
Leeann Hall
Trump’s Gift for the Unemployed: Kicking Them Off Health Care
Dean Baker
Lessons in Economics For the NYT’s Bret Stephens: Apple and Donald Trump’s Big Tax Cut
Mitchell Zimmerman
Law, Order and the Dreamers
Ken Hannaford-Ricardi
The Kids the World Forgot
Dave Lindorff
South Korea Slips Off the US Leash
Ali Mohsin
Extrajudicial Murder of Pashtun Exposes State Brutality in Pakistan
Jessicah Pierre
Oprah is No Savior
John Carroll Md
Keeping Haiti in Perspective
Amir Khafagy
Marching Into the Arms of the Democrats
January 22, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
It’s Time to Call Economic Sanctions What They Are: War Crimes
Jim Kavanagh
Behind the Money Curtain: A Left Take on Taxes, Spending and Modern Monetary Theory
Sheldon Richman
Trump Versus the World
Mark Schuller
One Year On, Reflecting and Refining Tactics to Take Our Country Back
Winslow Wheeler
Just What Earmark “Moratorium” are They Talking About?
W. T. Whitney
José Martí, Soul of the Cuban Revolution
Uri Avnery
May Your Home Be Destroyed          
Wim Laven
Year One Report Card: Donald Trump Failing
Jill Richardson
There Are No Shithole Countries
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
Are the Supremes About to Give Trump a Second Term?
Laura Finley
After #MeToo and #TimesUp
Howard Lisnoff
Impressions From the Women’s March
Andy Thayer
HuffPost: “We Really LOVED Your Contributions, Now FUCK OFF!”
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail