The Southern Border is Not a War Zone

Border PatrolPhoto credit: girltwin

Increased militarization of the border will inevitably lead to increased violence at the border. It is already happening, and it is not pretty.

Fourteen year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca was shot in the head by US border guards this week. On May 31, Anastasio Hernandez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant was beaten, shot with a stun gun and killed after "becoming combative" while in the custody of US border guards. His death has been ruled a homicide. These horrifying incidents are part of a larger trend that, unfortunately, isn’t surprising.

Arthur Brice of CNN wrote:

"According to the [Mexican Foreign Ministry], the number of Mexicans who have been killed or wounded by U.S. border authorities has increased from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 and 17 so far this year.

Mark Qualia, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he could not comment because he does not know where the Mexican government obtained its statistics.

But Qualia noted there were 799 assaults on border agents from October 1, 2009, through May 31. There were 745 assaults for the same time period in 2007-08 and 658 for the same span in 2008-09, he said. [...]"

The escalating violence on our southern border is the unavoidable result of how we currently manage immigration.

Militarizing the border does nothing to address the factors that lead to migration across the border. It only increases the peril of those driven to cross it and the troops and agents tasked with securing it.

Longer and taller fences and walls won’t block the demand for low-wage workers in the US. Meanwhile, trade agreements like NAFTA allow capital to flow freely across the border, contributing to the deterioration of economic conditions in poorer countries like Mexico.

And, sending more boots and guns to the border will only divert money and resources away from our other national priorities, such as high unemployment, which, despite the claims of anti-immigrant groups, is not caused or perpetuated by immigrants, documented or not.

Until we deal with the economic factors driving migrants to leave their homes and families and place their lives at risk to cross the border, the flow of migrants will not slow. But, under our existing immigration policy–sealing borders and increasing enforcement–death and violence will only continue to climb.

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