Milwaukee joins nationwide protests against Senate “border surge” amendment
(Milwaukee, WI) –
The Senate’s immigration reform package was passed with the last-minute addition of a $47 billion “border surge” that would create one of the most costly and militarized border zones in the world over the next 10 years.
At a news conference in Milwaukee on Wednesday, individuals who have been affected by border violence spoke out on the human cost of escalated militarization, and called for the House of Representatives to pass a bill that is focused on creating a pathway to citizenship, instead of spending $47 billion on the border during a severe economic crisis.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, talked about the families that have come to Voces for help because of wrongful criminalization.
“Even though Wisconsin is not a southern border state, we have seen enforcement that has nothing to do with national security blindly tear immigrant families apart, and hurt working people. For example, we’ve seen cases where undocumented parents who have sent their US citizen children to visit family members in their native country have been stopped, interrogated, and entered into deportation proceedings. These are not people trafficking children- these are family members, and this broken rule of law has been blindly applied to them.”
Tomas Conteras was unlawfully detained at the US-Mexico border for three months, and witness to widespread human rights abuses.
“I was in a deportation center for 81 days. There are no cameras, no medical services, toilets and showers that don’t work. And I did nothing wrong.”
Walfred Gil, a former contractor with the Department of Homeland Security, spoke on the financial incentives for contractors being prioritized over the human toll on surrounding communities.
“Border enforcement is more about the pocket of the contractor than it is about the people this affects. There is a difference between the police and the military. A soldier can never be a cop. You have one purpose that you’re trained for – to fight a war, not to police a border. And you’re compromising the safety of civilians when you mix those things.”
Gerardo Alvarado, a college student with Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), crossed the border as a child with his parents at age 5.
“All these corporations are now lobbying for private contracts on the border. We can’t allow these corporations to lobby against us. We can’t have another Gaza Strip here.”
Additional events were held on Wednesday in New York, Washington DC, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Benito, Texas, as well as Tuscon, San Diego and San Fransisco, CA.
Milwaukee’s event was sponsored by Voces de la Frontera, Peace Action Wisconsin, and Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES).
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