Protesters Rally Against Proposed Border Enforcement Expansion

By Alex Emslie

Immigrant rights activists gathered in San Francisco and across the country Wednesday to protest a proposed $46 billion surge in border security spending in the immigration overhaul bill currently before Congress.

As part of a national day of action against border militarization, faith leaders, workers and community groups held a protest and dramatazation of migrant deaths, outside of the office of one of the top six companies that currently profits from U.S Border contracts. In this photo protesters march around three people pretending to lie dead, representing those that they say have died at the hands of the U.S. Customs and Border Control. Other names of people that they say have died were read out loud. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
As part of a national day of action against a proposed massive increase in border security, faith leaders and community groups held a protest and dramatization of migrant deaths, in downtown San Francisco on July 17. Protesters marched around three people pretending to be dead, representing those that they say have died trying to cross the border. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Protesters fear the massive border enforcement expansion will cause more migrants to die along a treacherous route through the Sonora Desert, and they charge the real beneficiaries of the “border surge” are private national defense contractors.

“This event is about protesting proposals, plans for further border militarization, increasing the spending by 1,000 percent, and benefiting and enriching military and border contractors,” said Deborah Lee, director of the Bay Area’s Interfaith Immigrant Rights Project.

The amendment, authored by two Republican senators and passed in the final days of debate over immigration overhaul in the Senate, boosted border security spending from $4.5 billion to $46 billion. Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, one of the amendment’s authors, said anyone who is serious about border security would support the amendment.

It calls for 20,000 additional border agents, doubling the current number, and also adds 350 miles of fence. The amendment expands citizenship verification for employment through E-Verify, provides billions for new border security technology and calls for the implementation of a new entry and exit tracking system.

Deaths on the U.S.-Mexico border totaled 477 in 2012, according to data collected by the National Foundation for American Policy. Researchers believe border security is pushing migrants onto more dangerous routes.

Oakland resident Cristal Gallegos agrees. Originally from Tucson, Gallegos said she travels back to the U.S. Mexico border often and has seen it change to look more and more militarized.

“People are funneled specifically through the Sonoran Desert, because it has the most treacherous conditions,” Gallegos said.

Protesters say private national defense contractors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin that receive millions yearly in border security contracts stand to benefit from the surge.

As part of a national day of action against border militarization, faith leaders, workers and community groups held a protest and dramatazation of migrant deaths, outside of the office of one of the top six companies that currently profits from U.S Border contracts. Three people laid as though dead, holding crosses with the names of those that they say have died at the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Control. Names of others that have died were also read out loud. In this photo Rev. Craig Scott (left) and Daren Garshelis (right) pretend to be border patrol, while Luz Anguiano pretends to lie dead with an empty water container. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
Rev. Craig Scott (left) and Daren Garshelis (right) pretend to be border patrol agents, while Luz Anguiano pretends to be dead with an empty water container. Names of others who have died were also read out loud. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

As part of a national day of action against border militarization, faith leaders, workers and community groups held a protest and dramatization of migrant deaths, outside of the office of one of the top six companies that currently profits from U.S Border contracts. Three people laid as though dead, holding crosses with the names of those that they say have died at the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Control. Names of others that have died were also read out loud. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
Three people pretend to be dead, holding crosses with the names of those that they say have died while crossing the border. Names of others that have died were also read out loud. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

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  • jurgispilis

    “border enforcement expansion will cause more migrants to die along a treacherous route through the Sonora Desert.”

    On the contrary, the whole idea behind militarizing the border is to save lives and prevent deaths on AMerican soil, by not letting them come in. They can die anywhere they want, but not here in our country.

  • Dave_Mcc

    People desperate for work will coninue to come–and to die of thirst on American soil if forced into the desert by militarization of the border. It hasn’t worked–and won’t work.

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