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The Gaza-fication of the US Border

Posted: 06/09/10 03:29 AM ET

Mass is being held tonight for Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, the 42-year old father of five who was killed when border patrol agents shot him with a stun gun on May 28th in San Diego county. Hernandez had lived and worked in San Diego with his children and wife of 21-years since he was 14, according to Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee, until a recent deportation led him to attempt a recrossing.

The ceremony takes place just 48-hours after another US border patrol agent in El Paso, Texas shot and killed a 15 year old boy on the Mexican side of the border in Ciudad Juarez. The Border Patrol statement alleges the boy was throwing rocks at the agent, but witnesses and family members insist he was only playing near the river and attempting to escape the shooting. Reports US and Mexican authorities conflict greatly. Both killings are being investigated and have been condemned by Mexican officials for disproportionate use of force.

(AFP/Jesus Alcazar)

Amid the killings, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently defended the Obama administration's efforts to secure the US-Mexican border against the President's detractors in her June 4th 2010 editorial for the Arizona Republic.

Illegal crossings along the southwestern border last year were down 23 percent from the year before and are a fraction of their all-time high. Last year, seizures of contraband rose significantly across the board: Homeland Security seized 14 percent more illegal bulk cash, 29 percent more illegal weapons and 15 percent more illegal drugs than the year before. And, by all measurable standards, crime levels in U.S. border towns have actually remained flat or dropped for most of the past decade.

With the lack of a comprehensive immigration policy in place, the Obama administration is apparently attempting to appease critics on both sides by suggesting amnesty for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States in exchange for an aggressive and militant increase in border enforcement, to choke-off future immigration.

But we only need to look at Israel's attempt to maintain absolute enforcement of its border in Gaza while neglecting the larger issue of Palestine's integrity as a state to see the end result of what comes from such middling, purgatorial measures. Our reaction to threats, real or imagined, are beginning to cause their own catastrophe.

While the option of rebuilding Mexico into a more secure government is curiously absent from much public dialogue, it is a historically foregone conclusion what will come of relying on walls and military might. All the force and threat money can buy will fail endlessly to deter a population without other options from seeking a better life for itself. It failed in Rome, it will fail here too.

In commenting on the 15-year-old boy's death, Mexico's Foreign Relations Department told the Associated Press that its records indicated the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by US immigration authorities rose from five in 2008 to 12 in 2009 to 17 so far this year, which is not yet half over.

With so much recent violence involving the Border Patrol, the specialized agency trained to handle immigration control, it's valid to fear what will come when 12,000 national guards are sent to the region with infinitely less training for its complexities.


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