The verdict in the murder trial of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez who was shot by Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz in 2012 is due any day now. The jury was sent back into deliberations by the judge who told them today that they can’t come back with a hung jury. An announcement is expected Monday, and for his family, we hope for a full conviction on murder – not an acquittal, and not a conviction on lesser charges.
We know this will not address the loss of Jose, or soothe the pain of any of the families of the other 55 people murdered by the Border Patrol. But for all those who never saw charges, much less convictions, of BP agents who took their loved ones lives so callously – this is an important moment. We remember the last person, never publicly identified, who was shot and killed by Border Patrol in the Baboquivari mountain range last November. We mourn Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, and we demand an end to the total impunity to kill that the Border Patrol currently possesses. Regardless of the verdict, we will be in the streets in the coming days remembering our dead.
As the most recent migrant caravan’s arrival is imminent, we prepare to support Pueblos Sin Fronteras, which has been helping folks through perilous journeys for over 15 years. They continue their solidarity by bringing to light to the conditions of violence that compel people to travel North, and will be helping many members of the current caravan apply for asylum. It is sorrowful work to prepare already traumatized compañeros for the inhumane conditions in detention, where forced labor is common, and many will wait for months for a credible fear hearing. They deserve so much more, but please consider donating personally, or throwing a fund-raiser to support their work.
The terrain of immigration is getting rough, those who aim to apply for asylum face an uphill battle. It is a path that increasingly does not offer safety from deportation farther down the road. The legal immigration system is being overhauled, and people are now getting picked up during their ICE interviews. For those wishing only for reprieve and safety, there seems to be less and less incentive to try to regularize their status and play the game by the states rules, especially when the consequences of deportation are potentially deadly.
Yet somehow the narrative around the caravan isn’t this broken system, or the ways that US foreign policy is complicit in dirty wars in Central America. It has devolved into more arguing about funding for increased border militarization. Trump is quibbling over who will pay for the National Guard deployment to the border via his usual Twitter diplomacy. We condemn, but do not give credence to, the circus that is the national guard deployment.
First off, the borderlands are already a war zone, second – the National Guard have already been here – albeit in smaller numbers. The military does not, as of yet, have the power to detain people domestically, and so if they come in larger numbers the National Guard will be helping Border Patrol with logistics and tactical support. To all current Border Patrol – quit your fucking jobs already – and to the visiting National Guard – we hope you get heat stroke, go home.
With the increase in repression there is so much to do that this will be the last Dispatch from the Borderlands as a regular column. It is no longer possible to summarize the full extent of the barrage currently occurring on the ground. Its also all so supremely fucked up that its almost impossible not to notice. The treachery of the government’s hypocrisy and cruelty are now daily mainstream headlines – a keen eye to the news cycle will show you all these trends in militarization and repression. The last few months have made clear that the state will continue to imperil migrants, target undocumented activists and criminalize those in solidarity with them. Shit is getting real but we must not be deterred from our work.
If you stand against states and borders, you can see with your own eyes what is necessary in your community and chose a path forward in this struggle. Just as our friends further North did, in their beautiful resistance to the deportation of Lucy Francineth Granados and the border enforcement regime in Canada. We won’t win them all, but we were reminded this week of the power we can have in struggle when activist Alejandra Pablos was freed from detention on bond due to the diligent campaign work of Mijente.
In the words of Haukur Hilmarsson, who was killed last month in Afrin fighting for a better world than the one we have now, “Borders ensure neither peace nor security. Rather, they tamper free movement, business, survival and happiness. They are man-made, and their maintenance requires the relentless effort of heavily funded institutions. The pushbacks and deportations of refugees are intentional and carefully meditated acts of oppression. An all-out resistance to the entire establishment of border control is needed for the preservation of refugees lives. On these points there can be no negotiation. No room for opportunism. This is our ideology in a nutshell.” To all of our friends the world over who resist – thank you – you give us hope and strength. Good luck in all your endeavors!
Until these walls, prisons, and borders are no more we will rage for you in the streets, visit you inside, free you when we can, cry for you in court when we cannot. We will light candles for you on our ofrendas – we will not forget you, or what you died for. We will carry you in our hearts, and we will continue to fight.
Signing off with so much love, and rage, from the desert.