Razor Wire and Case Studies in Cruelty


In an act of civil disobedience, Rev. Jennifer Jo Vonrue and Rev. Ranwa Hammamy are pictured being handcuffed and marched up the hill along a fence threaded with concertina wire. Credit:UUSC/UUA Staff (Angela Kelly, Rachel Freed, Audra Friend, Mary Katherine Morn) Published under Creative Commons license. 

Stringing razor wire, aka “concertina” wire, is one of the make-work tasks assigned to U.S. military troops on the border. Nogales, Arizona doesn’t like the razor wire that the military is putting on their existing wall. Representative Raul Grijalva tweeted that this is an administration stunt, “trying to create the perception of rampant lawlessness and crime.” The city council and the mayor oppose the razor wire  that is, in some instances, only feet from people’s homes.

“Mayor Arturo Garino told the Nogales International paper on Monday: “That wire is lethal, and I really don’t know what they’re thinking by putting it all the way down to the ground.”

“The proclamation the city council is scheduled to vote on says concertina wire is typically something found in battlefields, and that placing it along the entirety of the border fence is “not only irresponsible but inhuman”.

Nogales is far from the only border community rejecting the administration’s “protection.” In Texas, Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX) joined the chorus of voices from the border denouncing the enforcement-only, let-nobody-in policies of this administration:

“Instead of developing a nuanced response to the facts on the ground, this administration has chosen incompetence and cruelty as its approach. The consequences are already apparent.

“For example, one reason more migrants are coming across the border through the desert, then requesting asylum, may be that they are being unfairly rejected at official border crossings or being forced to languish in Mexico while their applications are being considered at a deliberately slow pace, a tactic called “metering.”Many choose not to wait, and make a desperate, risky choice — and some die as a result.”

In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered most National Guard troops to go home.

“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the Southern border,” Lujan Grisham said, adding that the area has “some of the safest communities in the country.”…

“But she also said some troops will remain in southwestern New Mexico, saying they’re needed to fulfill a humanitarian mission in Hidalgo County and neighboring counties.

“Those counties “have seen large groups of families, women and children crossing over the border in the remote Antelope Wells area in recent months,” the governor’s office said. …

“As for the ‘state of our Southern border,’ mayors along the Southwest border consistently say that their communities are among the safest in the nation. McAllen, Texas, Mayor Jim Darling asserted that his city is the third safest in Texas, according to FBI crime statistics, and seventh safest in the nation. ‘Send social workers to process the asylum-seekers, not soldiers,’ Darling said in a recent call with reporters. Eddie Trevino, Cameron County judge in Brownsville, added, ‘It is a misconception that the border is insecure. There is no Central American invasion. This is a manufactured crisis.’ ”

On February 6, the American Immigration Council, AILA, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. sent a letter to DHS documenting harm to asylum seekers from the administration policy of forcing them to wait in Mexico, the inaccurately named Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

“The MPP represents a unilateral decision by the U.S. government that threatens to jeopardize meaningful access to asylum and other humanitarian protections under our immigration laws. For example, applicants forced to remain in Mexico for months or longer will find it especially difficult—if not impossible—to have access to counsel familiar with U.S. immigration and asylum laws, to file necessary paperwork in a timely manner, and to secure evidence to demonstrate their claims for asylum or other relief.

“Equally important, … the MPP will exacerbate a humanitarian crisis on our southern border in a way that is entirely avoidable. …

“Quite simply, Mexican border towns are not safe places for asylum seekers—much less vulnerable unaccompanied children and families—to wait for a U.S. immigration court hearing.U.S.law has adopted the international legal principle of non-refoulement, which requires that governments do not return individuals to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened. Importantly, this mandate refers to any country where an individual’s life or freedom may be at risk, not just a person’s country of origin. For this reason, current conditions in Mexico are extremely relevant to any analysis of the appropriateness and legality of implementing the MPP.”

Tom Dispatch contributor Arnold Isaacs compiled another in the growing list of comprehensive descriptions of this administration’s anti-immigrant actions and policies.

“Make America Cruel Again.” That’s how journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Shipler has reformulated Donald Trump’s trademark slogan. Shipler’s version is particularly apt when you think about the president’s record over the last two years on refugee resettlement and other humanitarian-related immigration issues….

“Many of those currently or potentially harmed by his actions are not outside the law, but are in the United States legally, some with permanent residence status and others on a temporary or provisional basis. Many more, including tens of thousands of refugees who would be eligible for resettlement, are seeking entry or lawful residence through normal immigration procedures, not trying to sneak into the country….

“If the problem is the system, not the people, it won’t be solved by uprooting a million or more immigrants who have legally resided in the United States for years or closing the door on tens of thousands of refugees who would qualify for resettlement. The solution should be to fix the system, not punish the people.

“Americans don’t need to keep shouting at each other about Trump’s border wall. They need to talk about how to reform the immigration system without needlessly damaging a great many human lives. That would be the logical and useful discussion to have. It would also be a good way to start making America decent again.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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