Revitalize, not Militarize
For the next three weeks, border communities in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas will be telling the stories of the effect of border militarization on their communities. The message, Revitalize Not Militarize expresses the need to invest in border communities and improve the quality of life for border residents while improving trade for the nation. This approach, together with a comprehensive immigration reform, will stimulate the U.S. economy, helping us all move forward together. Part of this approach is the Border Quilt Project. The quilt itself represents the communities’ longing for revitalization and memorializes the suffering and losses they have endured as a product of militarization.
The Revitalize campaign opposes lethal force as a default enforcement tactic for Border Agents. In 2012 alone there were 477 people who lost their lives while attempting to cross the border. The participating organizations want to hold the U.S. Department of Homeland Security accountable for its actions. They believe immigration laws and their enforcement should uphold the American values of justice and fairness for all, while ensuring public safety. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security must spend its money wisely and not give away hard-earned taxpayer dollars for dubious and detrimental programs.
This summer, the Senate introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed with a bipartisan supermajority of 68-32. The House has introduced a number of piecemeal immigration bills, and more recently, one which takes a more comprehensive approach. Both the House and the Senate Bills begin with increasing enforcement and militarization at the border. The U.S. already spends more on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement than we do on the FBI, ATF, DEA and the Secret Service combined – more than $18 billion dollars per year, and there is one border patrol agent for every 500 feet of Southern Border.
Why is comprehensive immigration reform preferable over addressing one issue at a time? Why are so many people dying at the border? Will more fortification at the border lead to more border deaths? Why is the House focused on enforcement while over 11 million people are waiting to become legitimate U.S. citizens? Why the apparent disconnect between the bills going through Congress and the wishes of border communities?