Statement of Purpose and Intent

On March 12th, 2011 I began a 400 mile trek along the Arizona-Mexico border from Agua Prieta to San Luis Rio Colorado, an adventure with a purpose I am calling BorderVenture.

Through BorderVenture I hope to raise awareness of border issues, expose exaggeration of border violence, combat the racial profiling, discrimination, and often outright racism that seems prevalent of late, and to record and recount personal stories of people living near or trying to cross the border. I will record my experiences and stories in this blog, and hope to have them further covered by supportive media, organizations, and other websites and blogs. I plan to aggressively publish my experiences through media outlets, interested groups, the Internet, and through whatever other avenues I am able. I will write tirelessly and advocate my findings to all who will listen, publish, and share them.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Adding Insult to Injury

With the wounds inflicted by HB 2281 still feeling quite fresh, Arizona Senator Senator Russel Pearce recently proposed SB 1611, the self-titled "Immigration Omnibus" bill.  Clever name- perhaps a bit more creativity than I expected from an Arizona Senator.  Omnibus being a term for a vehicle that carries many passengers (a bus), and also for a comprehensive law that provides many stipulations at once.  So the bill essentially hopes to "bus away" all of the immigration concerns that keep Senator Pearce awake at night.  The bill consists largely of revisions and additions to already-standing legislation, and is essentially a violation of what most people would consider "basic human rights", and not to mention, the Constitution of the United States of America.  Rather than reiterate what the proposed bill states, here is a statement by the American Civil Liberties Union: ACLU Denounces Passage of Irresponsible Bill...
and if you don't feel like reading the whole statement, here are some bullet points taken directly from their article concerning some of the new provisions:

  • Prohibits universities or community colleges from admitting any student who cannot present one of the listed documents to prove legal status;
  • Mandates that all businesses register with E-verify or face the revocation of their business licenses; 
  • Establishes new eligibility requirements for public benefits that violate federal law and enhances penalties (from a class 2 to a class 1 misdemeanor) for agency employees who fail to report “discovered” violations of federal immigration law; 
  • Limits the types of documents a person can show to prove their identity;
  • Requires the state police training agency, AZ POST, to summarily revoke a peace officer’s ability to serve the public if the officer does not uphold state or constitutional laws, even if the officer is just trying to exercise his or her professional discretion; 
  • Prohibits judges from considering bail for any undocumented immigrant who is charged with any felony offense;
  • Establishes mandatory 6-month jail term for anyone convicted of using another person’s identity to obtain employment; and 
  • Prohibits individuals from obtaining a vehicle title and registration, fingerprint clearance card or license of any kind until they are able to demonstrate satisfactory immigration status.

And if you want to see exactly what the proposed legislation is for yourself, here is a link to the official document:  SB 1611
So if you feel the way I might about this new proposed legislation, please feel free to tell your Arizona "representatives" to vote "NO!" on SB 1611.  And maybe next time, lets try to get some better representation in there.  Somehow, I don't think that this guy comes anywhere near representing Arizona's population:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Death and the Border

The Coalacion de Derechos Humanos reports that between the years 2000 and 2010, the remains of 2,104 people have been found in the desert borderlands.  Many of these have not been identified, though thankfully people are still working on this issue in some capacity.  From 1990 to 2005, the Pima County (the county in which Tucson resides) Medical Examiner's Office alone examined 927 recovered bodies, and this office handled only 90% of the recovered bodies of only one sector (the Tucson Sector) of the border as defined by the U.S. Border Patrol.  The number of annual border crossing deaths has increased steadily since the early 90's.  In 1999 there were 241 recorded deaths, in 2005 there were 472 border crossing deaths, and that number has continued to rise each year with 2011 on track to be another record year.  Not exactly a record to be proud of.

I feel that I have to emphasize here that these are people dying in the desert, people like you and I, most of which are merely trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.  Would you brave the Sonoran Desert with minimal to no supplies to find a better life for your family?  I must also emphasize that these deaths were only the result of crossing the borderlands and are not at all tied to crime or deaths in any of the border cities.  The major cause of death among those crossing the border is heat-related exposure.  The suspected drivers in this increase in deaths along the border are the construction of the border wall and the increased militarization of the border.  The combination of the wall, though still incomplete, and the greatly increased numbers of patrols are forcing people to travel further through much more remote and brutal terrain, known as a funnel effect.  This consequence was anticipated by the U.S. when the border wall construction and militarization of the border began, and as part of the plan, the U.S. expected the deaths to serve as an example and deter future unauthorized immigration.  We are supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth, but we enact policies that intentionally result in the deaths of impoverished peoplePeople of a country that shares a border with us and has been a valued partner in trade and commerce for many years.  People that were impoverished by U.S. policies in the first place (ie. the North American Free Trade Agreement/NAFTA) and forced from their traditional farms, jobs, and homes by U.S. corporations.

Just something to think about.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The outlawing of culture

The video below by Pan Left Productions documents high school students taking a stand against House Bill (HB) 2281, an Arizona state law that came into effect on December 31, 2010 regardless of the vehement protests by the only populations it affects.  HB 2281 basically penalizes any Arizona school teaching ethnic studies by cutting 10% of state aide each month that the program remains in effect.  Though the program effects all Latino, Mexican, Native American, and African American studies throughout the state, it was largely the bastard creation and personal vendetta of Tom Horne, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, with the goal of ending the ethnic studies program La Raza in the Tucson Unified School District.  Nothing like a rich white guy oppressing the learning and culture of the economically poor minority, eh?  Not to mention it targets our state's youth.  Keepin' it classy. 

Tucson Youths Rise Up

I applaud the efforts and passion of the students who protested HB 2281- what you've done is truly inspiring.

Here are some news articles that cover the story further:
Students protest bill that would ban ethnic studies
Arizona bill bans ethnic studies

And here are the links the the TUSD La Raza program and the associated Facebook group:
La Raza Facebook Group
TUSD Mexican American Studies

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Beginning

And so it begins.  This past Saturday was the first day of sending my proposal out in search of information, contacts, and support for BorderVenture.  An exciting day for me, to say the least, and I sent out another volley of emails last night (and I'm already getting some great responses).  I plan to attend the Concrete Connections Conference at the University of Arizona next weekend.  This will hopefully be a good venue to meet people and make more contacts, share my plans and build awareness for BorderVenture, and gain some greater insight and information on the border. 

The greater the awareness of BorderVenture, the greater power it will have to make social change, so please share this with your contacts and promote it through whatever outlet you may have.  This will be the most important part of the project, and the part I will need the most help with.  I am also seeking contacts with experience working, living, and/or traveling along the border, contacts of people I might stay with along the way, and logistical and direct physical assistance.  This could include the locations of water caches already in place, placement of additional water caches along the border route, drop-off of food in the larger spans between towns, and potentially some short bits of companionship along the way.

Many thanks for reading, and I'll be sure to post with any new developments!