Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rival Actions: at the border...

[Photograph by Alex Webb, Crossings: Photographs from the U.S.-Mexican border.]

So, the Senate has diverted 2 billion dollars in Iraq funds to beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Do people really think terrorists are sneaking in that way? Haven’t they already proven far more sophisticated than that? How many terrorist suspects have they actually apprehended there? Instead of pouring billions into border-crosser hunting games, shouldn’t those billions go towards something more worth while? Like affordable housing, community-based Day Laborer programs, labor exploitation oversight enforcement, border urbanism infrastructure: sewage treatment facilities, environmental clean up initiatives in and around Tijuana?
Latino families are one of the fastest growing sectors of the homeless population in California, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Latinos that populate California’s behemoth prison system. Meanwhile, 10 billion a month goes to Iraq, the Senate deliberates over an Immigration Bill and Border Security Act (which could turn millions of migrants into felons over night and yield a 2.2 billion dollar 700 mile border fence extension), and contingents on both sides are already taking action into their own hands.
May 1, is gearing up to be what has been dubbed by immigration rights advocates, as a day to “shut down all cities”; and perhaps could be a precursor to an even more massive display of immigration solidarity over Cinco de Mayo. From the article, the national boycott has the potential to be the biggest nation-wide protests since the 1960’s. And we need some epic social protest around here, these days, and to see just exactly how the American business machine will grind when the Mexican labor movement pulls out, if even for a day. American Agribusiness is feeling it.

[Image: Contractors and surveyors teaming up with the Munitemen on the border. CBS.]

The Minutemen (in all their self-proclaimed authority) are rallying clans to begin building a border fence between Mexico and the U.S. all on their own. That’s right. Frustrated by what they say is the government’s failure to secure the borders (and viewing recent migrant protests as some sort of hostile alien invasion instead of the democracy of political demonstration in action), they are coordinating a plan with private landowners along the border to repair gaping holes in the current fence portions there, as well as to begin building a new security fence “with or without the government’s help,” they say.

"We're going to show the federal government how easy it is to build these security fences, how inexpensively they can be built when built by private people and free enterprise," said Chris Simcox, President of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (“MCDC”).
The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. are descending on the Arizona-Mexico border with donated materials and tools. For one, do they really believe that their fence repairs are going to stop border-crossers, or help in any way to resolve the issue of immigration or terrorism? Secondly, should they plan to erect something more securitized than a mere fence (like sniper outposts, for instance) is it legal for citizens to just go and build something that is essentially a militarized structure? Now, of course they're entitled to build a fence on private property, but theoretically, should citizens have the right to establish military-style structures at will? Well, this article looks at the legality of civilian patrol groups in this country, which sort of exist as private citizens above any federal or state law that explicitly deals with enforcement powers. I haven't read it fully yet, but the fine line of where civilian groups are active volunteers protected under the constitution and where their volunteerism begins to interfer with law enforcement could be examined more carefully here.

[Image: Predator 3 UAV, Flight Global.]

Anyway, if you find yourself down there for whatever reason, watch out for falling drones. The Border Patrol apparently let one get away from them a few nights ago. Perhaps a sign that the situation is simply out of everyone's control, that's several million dollars that just crashed and burned into plume of dirt on a ranch somewhere. What a waste.
Also, see Subtopia's earlier coverage of militarizing the U.S.-Mexico border, and this border urbanism news round-up.


Blogger Bryan Finoki said...

John Robb made an interesting observation on his blog about the design of the Minutemen border fence, which he notes is double-sided in its securitized facing. From my understanding, it takes after the Israeli security fence, which has three layers of deterrence on each side: a coil wall of barbed-wire, followed by a pit with ground sensors, and then a main fence. If someone manages to get over that, then they must repeat the same thing one more time on the other side of the patrol strip. The entire strategy is designed to slow down the border crossers until a Border Patrol unit can be dispatched to the exact point of the border fence breach.
But, ultimately Robb’s comment points out the age old adage about security walls, which, whether by design or not, seem to do as much to keep people fenced in as they do to keep people fenced out.

12:53 PM  

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