In 2006, Congress mandated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) build approximately 700 miles of wall along the southern border with Mexico. In April 2008, DHS used the power granted via the REAL ID Act to waive three dozen federal, state, and local laws and regulations in order to continue building this wall. There are many grave concerns about the border wall. There are the monetary costs. There is the environmental impact on delicate ecosystems and endangered species. There is the violation of laws meant to protect public health, property rights, and Native American religious practices and sovereignty. But above all, there is the violation of basic human rights.
The approximately 700 miles of border wall is preferentially built along high-traffic areas, the result of which has been to funnel desperate migrants into the most deadly parts of the Mojave (California) and Sonoran (Arizona) deserts, where many die of dehydration and exposure. 417 people died while trying to cross the desert in 2009. The death count had averaged just below 400 a year in previous years, after peaking at 492 in 2005. The U.S. government continues to build wall even though it knows that it is causing deaths.
Those who survive the trek across the desert but are apprehended by Border Patrol are systematically subjected to human rights abuses. Over 30,000 cases of abuse have been documented by No More Deaths in their report, "Culture of Cruelty." According to the report, abuse is the normal operating procedure of the U.S. Border Patrol, not the exception. In summary, our emphasis on enforcement only and the accompanying militarization of the border is the result of and itself reinforces a culture that devalues human life.
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Last updated on Thursday, December 8, 2011.