Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Worst Fears Confirmed

by John Carlos Frey

On Dec. 27, 2009 Brady McCombs of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson published a sobering article about migrant death in the Sonoran desert. He concluded that, "illegal border crossers face a deadlier trek than ever." The reason migrants are more likely to die than in years past, according to McCombs is, "increased risk of death coincides with the unprecedented buildup of agents, fences, roads and technology along the U.S.-Mexico border, casting doubt on a mantra often used by the Border Patrol that a "secure border is a safe border." I didn't want this to be the case. "The 800 Mile Wall" is based on this very premise that increased border security increases the likelihood of migrant death. I wanted to be proved wrong.

The U.S. Border Patrol continues to assert that their increased presence along the border actually saves lives. They claim more agents are able to respond to more calls of distress. What they will not admit is that increased border security is driving people into more treacherous terrain. If less people are crossing because of the U.S. economic down turn, yet proportionately more people are dying, how can you assert you are saving more lives? One cannot say increased border security is humane or helpful or prevents migrant death if the death toll continues to escalate. It is a false assumption. It is an impossible conclusion. It is a lie.

U.S. border policy has set a house on fire and is claiming to rescue people from the burning building and denying more and more people are succumbing to the flames. They are claiming victory for the few lives they have rescued even though they started the fire. Those that believe tightened border security saves lives do not believe in fact. Those that believe we still need even more fencing and increased technology are advocating for more organized crime at the border, more women being assaulted, more children separated from their families, more brutality, more smuggling and more death. The FACT is more "border security" has not worked and more of the same will continue to not work. There is no military solution.

Our current border policy may not be well understood by many, especially the lazy press that only wants immediate gratification for it's readers and viewers. We have been sold the rhetoric that if one fence is good maybe two would be better or 700 more miles. If 8,000 border agents are a good idea let's have 16,000 or maybe 20,000 like we have today. Let's throw billions of dollars at the problem and that will work. Our current philosophy at the border is, the more - the better. The only problem with this kind of thinking is, IT DOES NOT WORK. We have never had as much infrastructure, fencing, technology and have never had as many border guards as we have today yet people are still coming by the hundreds of thousands and organized crime has skyrocketed.

As a result of this failed policy more people are dying and the likelihood of death is growing exponentially. Why isn't that the headline? Shouldn't that be the only concern? If U.S. border policy is ineffective and more people are dying and more people are likely to die, shouldn't the policy be scrapped? Based on humanitarian concerns alone shouldn't the policy be dropped immediately and reassessed?

U.S./Mexico border policy is one of deterrence. It was never meant to keep people from entering the U.S. but deter them, make it hard, make it dangerous so people would think twice about the attempt and choose not to come. The fences were never designed to keep people out of the U.S. but funnel them towards areas that would be considered too risky for crossing. The policy suggests that if hopeful migrants were given the option to stay home or cross a 120 degree desert they would not make the attempt. That is the current policy. It has resulted in the death of thousands of men, women and children. It doesn't matter what the racists, minutemen, border wall proponents, media, politicians and uniformed citizens say, the fact is thousands of people have died and many more will be sent to an early grave because of a failed border policy that protects no one and continues to kill thousands.

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