Border Violence

Op-Eds are organized chronologically, with the most recent publications listed first.

“As federal engagement in active wars with Indian nations tapered off during the late 19th century, U.S. counterinsurgency policies migrated abroad with the flag of empire: to the Philippines, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Over the course of the twentieth century, the United States intervened forty-one times to create regime change in Latin America alone. Such interventions involved counterinsurgency operations: coups, civil wars, declarations of emergency powers and the resulting repression, displacement, and murder.

Truthout | July 13, 2020

A. Naomi Paik

The deployment of ICE and CBP to recent protests expands the power of law enforcement to subdue public assemblies. Yet it also targets solidarity, threatening deportation against immigrant activists. This targeting suggests the danger that solidarity poses to our unjust, inequitable social order and to the police that uphold it...To achieve the goal of abolishing police and creating a new society where all can thrive, we need to make these connections and fight against all fronts of policing power.

The Washington Post | March 31, 2019

Monica Muñoz Martinez

Politicians, historians, the media and historical commissions have long celebrated the Texas Rangers, transforming them into a mythical hero in radio, film and eventually television shows like “The Lone Ranger” and “Walker, Texas Ranger.” But this myth has relied on a public willingness to overlook lawmen breaking the law and ignore (or even celebrate) the Rangers’ long history of racial violence targeting Native Americans, ethnic Mexicans and African Americans. “The Highwaymen” threatens to further this mythology at precisely the moment when many in Texas are beginning to grapple with this appalling history.”

Laphams Quarterly | October 25, 2018

Monica Muñoz Martinez

"Between 1910 and 1920, the decade of an expanded militarization of the border, ethnic Mexicans were harshly policed by an intersecting regime of vigilantes, state police, local police, and army soldiers. Historians estimate that hundreds of ethnic Mexicans died during this period. In death, the victims of racial violence were criminalized. Photographers labeled the dead with racial epithets like bandit and greaser. Customers bought the images as souvenirs. Politicians called for the militarization and justified extralegal violence.”

Made by History, The Washington Post | June 11, 2018

Carly Goodman

"Arrests, detentions and deportations are happening routinely as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency responsible for immigration enforcement in the interior of the country, targets and seizes workers, parents, children and neighbors in U.S. communities. But these kinds of brutal actions — which appear to have intensified under President Trump — are not simply a result of his election. Rather, they are the product of our country’s narrowing view, formed under both Democratic and Republican administrations, of immigration as primarily a national security issue."

“Migration is propelled by irrepressible human desires for family unification, economic improvement and physical safety. It is very difficult for national states to stop migration, short of taking draconian measures that democratic societies will not tolerate...Idealized immigrants from Europe aren’t going to pick lettuce or wash dishes, just as most native-born white Americans don’t. And the nativists will have nothing more helpful to propose than heartless policing and deportation to discipline an underclass of nonwhite people that their own policies created.”

“Americans should heed the warnings of immigrant rights and human rights organizations, and the border agents themselves, that warn of abuse at the hands of undertrained and poorly vetted agents. In 2014 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released a report in response to the humanitarian needs of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States...We should follow the suggestions for humanitarian solutions, not those inspired by anti-immigrant ideologues.”

Shifting US and Mexican migration policies, the militarization of the US-Mexico border and, more recently, the Mexican cartels’ increasing control over migration routes have raised the physical and economic costs to migrants. Today, migration is more difficult, dangerous and deadly than ever, and yet the number of migrants has only increased. As of 2011, there were 1.3 million Salvadorans, 850,900 Guatemalans and 490,600 Hondurans living in the United States, representing 85 percent of all Central Americans in the country. Some, however, never make it that far.

US policy—specifically the militarization of the border since NAFTA—has strengthened cartels’ power and enabled them to diversify their operations. In addition to profiting off of the drug trade, cartels have branched out into the business of kidnapping, human trafficking and extortion. Rather than stopping migration, the militarization of the border has made migrating more costly and dangerous than ever...Today, migrants have little choice but to pay cartel-controlled coyotes thousands of dollars to guide them across rugged terrain in desolate areas.

“Central Americans have been migrating to the United States in large numbers since the United States began meddling intensely in the affairs of their countries in the latter decades of the twentieth century. Increases in the number of agents along the border does not deter migration. Instead, it makes the passage more difficult and dangerous for those migrants that are determined to enter. If we want to protect children, enhancing the number of CBP agents is a terrible idea”

“Instead of enhancing public safety, Obama’s deportation policy has put thousands of kids in foster care and deported hundreds of thousands of parents of U.S. citizens — creating a massive Latino problem for the Democratic Party.

It is time for Obama to use his executive authority to create a deportation policy that is smart not only in name but in reality.”

The U.S. has long deported legal immigrants and permanent residents; citizenship is the only surefire relief from deportation.

Passing immigration reform in 2014 and giving the 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. a way to legalize their status would benefit immigrants, the communities in which they live, and the country as a whole.

But the cost of doing so will be militarizing the border to previously unimaginable levels and leaving immigrants vulnerable to deportation.