On the US-Mexico border, human rights violations are dishearteningly commonplace. On Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, border residents are exercising their right to assemble. To call attention to the human rights abuses that occur in our own nation, activists have summoned protests on the border.
El Paso residents will gather for an early afternoon protest at the border fence with the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR).
Because the US immigration reform debate is returning to the political spotlight, the El Paso protest focuses on the demand for more border enforcement. Conservatives see border enforcement as a political trade-off for the legalization of immigrants who are living and working in the US.
Border activists, however, say that enough has already been done to secure the borders and meet extremist demands made by immigration restrictionists. The nation built an expensive border wall that is patrolled with drones, guarded by military on the ground, and surveilled with electronic equipment.
Yet there has not been any progress on humane immigration reform.
“We are glad to see movement on immigration reform,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of El Paso’s Border Network for Human Rights. “But enough is enough. “
“We have to have reform immigration in this country, but not at the expense of more and more enforcement against immigrant families.”
An outdated and broken US immigration system leaves the vast majority of immigrants without legal means to enter the country. This pushes potential immigrants into the deserts …and into the hands of criminal smugglers.
By most estimates, more than 500 people die every year in the desert trying to cross into the US.
As this systemic violence claims lives, border residents also live with near-daily reports of excessive force used by law enforcement on migrants, workers and people living on the border. Thus, residents in Tucson, Ariz., will gather for a three hour protest, rally and candlelight vigil to remember that US border patrol agents have killed 19 individuals over the last two years.
The Coalición de Derechos Humanos will lead the public in denouncing border violence, the continued lack of accountability and impunity with which the US Border Patrol operates in border communities, and the deaths that are the result of border policies. The group will meet at the Federal Court House.
El Paso event: 1 p.m., at the Border Fence at the intersection of S. San Marcial St and The Cesar Chavez Border Highway. Note: Parking is available at the intersection of Delta and Cypress.
Tucson event: Tucson Federal Courthouse, 405 W. Congress, 4-6 p.m. protest and rally, 6-7 p.m. candlelight vigil; bring signs, banners, noisemakers and candles.
Sources and for further information: