Let’s be clear. Our faith tradition recognizes the right of sovereign nations to control their territories and impose reasonable limits on immigration. So, borders have to be monitored and protected, but it has to be done in a humane and merciful way.
Billions of dollars were spent in erecting walls along the populated areas of the US-Mexico border, believing that nobody would dare to cross in remote locations. Instead, the walls have had the impact of pushing any undocumented migrant to inhospitable and extremely dangerous desert areas, with harsh terrain, mountains and no water, where during the day the sun can bake human skin to 140 degrees in minutes and temperatures can fall below freezing at night. No wonder that thousands have died and many more have suffered severe wounds or illnesses!
We learn from history that walls are never a solution. They might limit the problem temporarily, but the foolishness and futility of walls becomes very soon evident. From the Great Wall of China, to the Berlin Wall and many in between, they have all been overran and made useless.
In Southern Arizona there is a glut of Border Patrols. We are tired of being stopped at permanent or improvised road blocks, where if your skin is a bit dark, you are better have your passport handy, even if you are a long way from the border…
Use of excessive force by Border Patrol is common: unprovoked shooting and killing, chasing of tired and dehydrated migrants through the desert, verbal and physical abuses, break-up of families through deportation, lengthy detentions with no contacts with the outside, etc. A number of permanent residents or US citizens have been deported as well, simply based on the color of their skin. The accountability of Border Patrol is questioned by many.
Every weekday afternoon, at the US Courthouse in downtown Tucson, as in other cities along the US-Mexico border, “Operation Streamline” takes place; this is the Federal “fast track” legal process created in 2005 for the purpose of deporting undocumented migrants, under a zero tolerance approach. Hundreds of them go through en-masse hearings, every week. According to a study by the Mercy Law School of the University of Detroit, Operation Streamline cannot be justified. This is a pretty shocking study with similarly shocking conclusions:
·Operation Streamline (OS) violates the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments
·OS often violates criminal defendants’ Sixth Amendment right of effective assistance of Council
·OS diverts important resources away from prosecuting other serious crimes
·OS does not have the strong deterrent effect its advocates purport
·OS enriches private prison companies with taxpayer money
See the entire study at:
And those described above are just some of the problems. Consider also the exploitation of undocumented migrants, which starts in Mexico, where they are being sold the necessary supplies for surviving several days in the desert at exorbitant prices. Exploitation continues in the desert where the “coyotes” regularly rob migrants of their money, hurt or rape them and often abandon them. Exploitation continues in the US, where unscrupulous employers pay hourly wages far below market or refuse to pay them all together after they have completed their work, because undocumented migrants have no legal recourse anyway. Again, with a legal immigration process, all of this would not happen.
“This morass is a circumstance of our country’s own making. It is the result of a combination of hard-right-wing politics trumping practical fixes to real problems that affect people’s lives” wrote the Arizona Daily Star on December 9, 2012.
The article continues: “It’s a much broader issue, and many Americans view it as a matter of human rights. Continuing a national policy that results in people being victimized by criminal gangs or dying torturous deaths in our deserts in unconscionable – no matter the nationality or legal status of the victims”
(By Giulio Grecchi – Tucson, AZ – Voice of the Poor Western Region Representative)