What border communities want and need in a Dream Act
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  • Southern border residents are joining communities across the nation in urging Congress to pass a DREAM Act before the end of the year. An estimated 1 in 5 DREAMers live in the southern border region, and about half of all DREAMers reside in the four southern border states -- California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

For Border Dreamers and their families, legislation that trades more border militarization for DREAMer protections, means an expanded deportation force in our communities and beyond.

For nearly two decades, the 15 million people who call the southern border region home have been living under the boot of militarization. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which includes the Border Patrol, is the largest law-enforcement agency in our country. The federal agency has grown without commensurate accountability and oversight mechanisms, turning CBP into arguably one of the most corrupt and violent law-enforcement agencies in the United States.

All too often, the needs of border communities are overlooked and our voices muted by hyperbole that paints a false narrative of our reality in the southern border. Our communities are not only statistically some of the safest in the country, the borderlands are environmentally rich, economically vital and culturally diverse. Yet our neighborhoods are plagued by the militarized presence of about 20,000 armed Border Patrol agents, invasive technology and intrusive checkpoints. More militarization means more abuse, more corruption, more interior checkpoints, more racial profiling, more unwarranted searches, and more impediments to legitimate trade and travel.

When a ten-year-old girl is taken into custody by border agents at a checkpoint miles from the actual border while traveling to the closest children’s hospital for emergency surgery, it’s time to put an end to the misguided border enforcement regime. The incident showcases the cruel and inhumane practices of the Trump administration's deportation machine, as well as a disturbing pattern by the Border Patrol to use checkpoints to target children and other vulnerable people. Earlier this year, Border Patrol agents arrested the parents of a 2-month-old child awaiting surgery.

As the Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, I stand firm with border residents and Border DREAMers and we have a clear message for Congress:

We want a Dream Act that does not put the families of Border Dreamers in jeopardy and does not further militarize our communities.

Our communities don’t need or want:

No more Border Patrol agents - The Border Patrol functions as a deportation force in border communities and even 100 miles into the U.S.

  • No border wall - This include gates, vehicle barriers and levees that threaten irreparable damage to fragile ecosystems, harm transborder trade relationships, risk life-threatening floods, trample sacred indigenous land, and involve the unjust taking of private property.
  • No waiver Authorities - Waiver​ ​authorities​ ​roll back ​protections​ ​for​ ​our​ ​communities and eliminate environmental, health, cultural and other safeguards that protect us.

What our communities need and want are common sense proposals that include:

Christian Ramirez is the Director of Southern Border Communities Coalition. He can be reached at Christian@alliancesd.org.