Willamette Action Collective Mayday 2021
The following speech was written and delivered by BMF a member of both the Willamette Action Collective, International Migrants Alliance, and works for the South Texas Human Rights Center.. We are comrades with WAC and were impressed with their speech we wanted to share it with others! - RM
click on image to check out W.A.C.s website
Thank you, International Migrants Alliance, & thanks to all of you here today demanding a better world for workers—especially migrant workers. I’m here today to talk on behalf of the South Texas Human Rights Center, a member organization of IMA, & in doing so I hope to connect something for all of us—to connect the violence committed daily by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in that building, here in this city—Portland, Oregon, to the daily violence committed by the United States’ militarization of the Mexico/U.S. border.
The border is a cruel fiction (as the poet Wendy Trevino put it) created by capitalist colonizers to exclude communities from their profiteering & to exploit workers outside of the US. The border is a violent fiction that requires constant maintenance by militarized forces, not only by the brutality they enact daily to migrants, immigrant, refugees, & asylum seekers—not only by their harassment of border communities—not only by their destruction of the borderland’s ecology—but by their oppressive presence here in communities like ours that are over 1,000 miles from the Mexico/US borderlands. The whole existence of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is based on a lie that the border is a real & just thing.
Fuck that! Fuck borders! Fuck ICE!
I work for an organization called The South Texas Human Rights Center that’s based in the Southern most tip of Texas, down in the subtropical prairie, in the town of Falfurrias, 90-miles North of Mexico. The STHRC is located there—90 miles North of the border—because that’s just on the other side of the border checkpoints, just on the other side of fucking Border Patrol’s jurisdiction.
The mission of the STHRC is as follows:
End migrant deaths along the Mexico/Texas border.
Organize & assist families searching for missing loved ones.
Establish forensic infrastructure to identify deceased border crossers.
Halt border militarization
Increase public awareness of migrant deaths and militarization of the border.
Our tactics for accomplishing our missions are
Maintenance of 200+ water stations that sustain the life of migrants crossing through South Texas
Run a missing migrant hotline to process calls from migrants & their families throughout Central America, Mexico, the
US, & the rest of the world.
Ensure Forensic identification of remains
Establish human rights protocols for exhumation, identification, & repatriation of migrant burials & recoveries.
Why is there a need for such an organization with such goals? Why are there 200 barrels full of water littered across the subtropical prairie of Texas? The South Texas Human Rights Center was founded in 2013 after a mass grave wa
s found in Falfurrias—a mass grave where Border Patrol had been hiding bodies in trash bags—a mass grave like so many others that litter the Texas/Mexico borderlands where the U.S. has tried to hide the extent of the atrocity created by the militarization of our border. We currently operate with the understanding that at least one person dies trying to cross through South Texas every night—one person dying every night due to the U.S.’ border policy, & this tragic number is almost assuredly low because the prairie there is so vast that many die & are never recovered.
At some point—we must ask ourselves how! How has it come to this? How is it that the line between Mexico & the US causes so much suffering? The answer to these questions is Prevention Through Deterrence. Prevention Through Deterrence is the policy of militarizing the border. Every government-funded militarized
force in the United States is used to take an enforcement only approach to the Mexico/US border. That’s all the branches of the military, state police forces, local police forces, & federal agents used to police communities of workers who have been crossing the borders since they were drawn. Prevention Through Deterrence means that these communities are now facing militarization & criminalization.
What does this militarization look like on the ground? There’s dozens of checkpoints across the Mexico/US borderland, some of which cost more than $1,000,000. There’s the border wall, which was never anything more than political theatre. Border wall. There’s detention facilities all over the US especially in small cities like Tacoma, Washington where this ICE building sends those they detain. There’s armies of Border Patrol agents (over 20,000 police using military grade equipment, US Troops sent to the border communities) prowling the border region.
Prevention Through Deterrence was enacted in 1994. This border policy was passed by the Clinton administration, which I want to emphasize: our current deadly border policy was passed by Cliton, a Democrat. The idea that the Democrats approach the border with any history of being more humane than Republicans is ridiculous—simply an attempt on the Democrats part to appeal to libral self-righteousness. Obama is another example of this. He upheld & expanded Prevention Through Deterrence while also deporting more people in total & per-year than any other president, & while his argument has been that he faced more people crossing the border than any other president, that ignores the fact that in the face of this migration, instead of finding means of helping people, he deported 3,066,457 people while building the cages that Trump would later use to imprison children. & of course Trump's zero-tolerance border policy was horrific, his absurd wall was never anything more than political theatre, & his child separation policy was overtly evil, but I want to encourage us to see Trump as a continuation of the border policy always maintained by the United States. Joe Biden has already deported over 300,000 people since taking office, putting him on track to deport 800,000 by the end of his first year, that’s almost the amount that Trump deported in his four years as president.
The U.S. policy to the Mexico/US border has always been one of escalating militarization regardless of if the president is on Red team or Blue team—in fact some of the most significant escalations of border militarization have occurred under Democrat administrations. We can’t be selective when we pay attention to border violence!
Just last week, Vice President Kamala Harris had the audacity to tell the Guatemalan government that she wants to address the root causes of why people are leaving their homelands. US imperialism is the root cause of forced migration out of Central America! During the 30-year Guatemalan Civil War, the US backed the Right Wing military that suppressed a people’s movement. The US helped facilitate genocide against the Mayan people fighting for their land, for their livelihood, & now, as these same communities cross the cruel fiction that is the US-border looking for work, safety, a livelihood, our government accuses them of being criminals.
That building there—the Immigration & Customs Enforcement building is our local manifestation of border militarization—ICE is here in our community upholding the cruel fiction that this land belongs to the US government. Fuck that! Migration is a human right! Borders are nothing but violent lies! Chinga la migra! End US imperialism! Fuck the police! Long live international solidarity! & remember—the workers’ struggle knows no borders!