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Posts Tagged ‘U.S.-Mexico border’

The U.S. Border Patrol’s “Low-Intensity War”: Ill-Conceived and Inhumane – Rachel Stonecipher

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Rachel Stonecipher
SMU

In a previous AccessDenied post, I considered how the institutional culture of the U.S. Border Patrol often neglects the medical needs of migrants. Despite policies calling for “humane treatment,” agents regularly destroy humanitarian water bottles in the desert, allow overcrowding in detention, deny medications, and commit acts of physical violence. Moreover, as Seth Holmes writes in a recent post, the Border Patrol’s stated policy of “prevention through deterrence,” which aims to deter future migration by making the journey north as difficult as possible, is inhumane.

As the agency predicted, and as Holmes notes, the increase in Border Patrol personnel and surveillance since 1994 has forced migration routes into the remote desert, increasing suffering. Read more…

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The Danger of U.S. Border Patrol Policy – Seth M. Holmes

August 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Seth M. Holmes
University of California, Berkeley

The U.S. Senate’s recent agreement – to increase the size of the Border Patrol by 20,000 agents, add 700 miles of fence, and deploy $3.2 billion in military equipment – may lead to an increase in deaths in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands if current policies continue. Most media coverage, however, has failed to mention that Border Patrol policies and actions directly contribute to these fatalities.

Holmes

One recent example is an article titled, “In 30 days, Border Patrol rescues 177 people from Arizona desert,” published last month in the Los Angeles Times. The article noted that although fewer people are crossing the border overall, death rates are at an all-time high in the southern Arizona desert. It blamed the spike in fatalities on the fact that migrants are increasingly crossing the border at its most treacherous and remote points. Yet the article failed to point out that Border Patrol policies have contributed to these deaths by deliberately re-routing migrants to cross in regions so perilous that Border Patrol officials themselves have referred to them as “the corridor of death” (Doty 2011). Read more…

Reading Between the Lines: Need to Know’s “Crossing the Line” Suggests a Reexamination of the Border Patrol’s Culture – Rachel Stonecipher

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Rachel Stonecipher

SMU

In 2012, a series of PBS investigations into Border Patrol abuses corroborated years of humanitarian volunteers’ reports, finding that the agency’s institutional culture cultivates a climate of medical neglect – and sometimes outright harm – toward migrant detainees. In July 2012, the PBS show Need to Know aired the second installment of its U.S.-Mexico border series “Crossing the Line,” an investigation into abuses of migrants in Border Patrol custody. The program reported that agents in the Tucson Sector, the busiest of nine regional divisions of the Border Patrol on the U.S.-Mexico border, have been accused of thousands of physical, verbal, and sexual abuses against migrants who are usually deported before they can report the crimes. “Crossing the Line, part 2” focused on the problem of poor treatment during detention, while Part I addressed agents’ excessive use of force. In light of my own research with humanitarian volunteers,[1] the two programs prove the frequency and injuriousness of abuse. Although PBS stops short of claiming that the Border Patrol’s “war on illegal immigration” actually promotes harm against migrants, to some volunteers’ dismay (including my own), “Crossing the Line” effectively conveys that abuse is an institutional problem that takes direct and indirect forms – including impunity.

Read more…

A Mile in Another’s Shoes on the U.S.-Mexico Border: “Being There” as a Form of Solidarity – Rachel Stonecipher

May 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Rachel Stonecipher
SMU

As I walk through the Sonoran desert, my eyes move ahead to the next obstacle: another cluster of spiny branches eclipsing the way forward. The path ahead looks impassable, but I assume the people who left their discarded belongings strewn along the wash’s rocky bottom have pressed on. Maybe there are migrants here at this moment, too frightened to answer our calls in timidly pronounced Spanish: “Hola, somos amigos! Tenemos agua, comida, y ayuda médica! No tengan miedo![1] We’ve been walking for two hours, hacking through less forgiving plants and climbing up and down steep rock formations, to keep moving. Two hours into a four-hour loop, there’s no sense in turning around.

I am beginning to understand how people can die wandering around in circles. More than once, I panic that I am not holding our shared GPS device. When I am leading, I walk as briskly as I can following the dry, rocky creek beds, the only “paths” we can see, checking the GPS every few seconds. With cell phone signals out of the question, I imagine the fear of standing here with no compass but the sun.

Memorial in Arivaca, Arizona, to migrants who died crossing into the U.S. The memorial displays discarded items found in the desert by No More Deaths volunteers.
(Photo: Rachel Stonecipher)

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Call It a Crisis: Confronting Public Health Risks on the U.S.-Mexico Border – Rachel Stonecipher & Sarah Willen

August 26, 2011 1 comment

     Rachel Stonecipher (SMU) & Sarah S. Willen (University of Connecticut)

You wouldn’t know it from the U.S. national media, but a multi-dimensional public health crisis is unfolding on the U.S.-Mexico border that few seem ready to acknowledge.

The complexity of this crisis – about which we know little since the affected group is a moving target, and a controversial one at that – came to light during a recent study tour to Tucson, Arizona, sponsored by the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in winter 2011 in which one of us [RS, an SMU undergraduate] had the privilege of taking part. The group spent two weeks meeting with leaders and officials in local law enforcement, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, and various humanitarian organizations active on the U.S. and Mexican sides of the border. These encounters revealed reports of violence and neglect throughout the migration process that signal a complex, cross-border health crisis far too vast for activists to address alone.

Migrant deaths in the border region. (Map: Humane Borders, 2010)

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