Join in a National Day of Action Against Border Militarization

GS29 Immigration marchThroughout our history the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has spoken prophetically on justice issues related to our federal immigration and border policy. The most recent Synod in Long Beach, CA reaffirmed the church’s commitment to justice in immigration policy by adopting a resolution in support of immigration reform, and called on us to protect the human rights of migrants.

Faith advocates have worked to advance immigration reform that is comprehensive, compassionate, and humane. Unfortunately much of the congressional debate around immigration reform is increasingly centered on a perceived need to secure and militarize our southern border. Over the next 10 years, the bipartisan “border surge” in the Senate’s proposal (S.744) will create one of the most militarized border zones in the world. As the House takes up its own border security bill, the outcome could be much worse.

Background

“Seal the Border!” is a mantra often repeated by opponents of immigration reform. The Senate has proposed spending $47 billion dollars, in addition to what has been spent, to extend our already extensive barriers across our Southern Border. This massive proposed militarization of the Border includes:

  • 20,000 additional Border Patrol agents
  • 700 additional miles of triple walls
  • 85 fixed watch towers
  • 488 remote video surveillance systems
  • 232 mobile surveillance systems
  • 4,425 ground sensors
  • 820 thermal and night vision goggles
  • 6 radar systems
  • 17 UH-1N helicopters
  • 8 AS-350 light enforcement helicopters
  • 15 Blackhawk helicopters
  • 30 marine vessels
  • 18 drones  

The new additions to the border wall will all be built by outside contractors overseen by the Army Corp of Engineers. No official cost estimate for this project is readily available, but some predict up to $28 billion a year.

The Cost for our Communities

The Southern Border of the United States is frequently portrayed as a turbulent, violent and dangerous area. This does not represent the reality on the ground. In fact, two Border cities, El Paso, Texas, and San Diego, California were respectively the first and second safest cities in the United States in 2012.

The 7 million people who live in the border region - Americans, Mexicans and Native Americans alike – are living with the reality of ever increasing militarization within their communities. Their quality of life is being sacrificed for the sake of an illusion of safety to be found in building yet another wall. So are the other dwellers of the border lands: the many animals that migrate freely from one nation to another to feed and to breed, including a number of endangered species like mountain lions, ocelots and jaguarundis.

Enough is enough. We need real, comprehensive immigration reform, not endless militarization of our border communities. The costs – economic, environmental, and human – are simply too high.

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