Mexico/U.S. Border

profileRayanMakki
Chapter3.pdf

72

3. Reactions to the hypeRboRdeR

The conditions and discrepancies that surround

and contribute to the hyperactivity of the U.S.–

Mexico border have sparked numerous reactions

from varying groups and institutions. From

government officials to policymakers to vigilant

U.S. citizens to immigrants’ rights activists to the

press, the state of the border and the methods for

resolving its problems have become the interests

of everyone.

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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73

Post-9/11 LegisLation

In the wake of 9/11, politicians and policymakers in

the U.S. have rallied around national security and

immigration reform as central issues for today’s

political arena. Since the terrorist attacks, numer-

ous bills pertaining to these themes have been

proposed and many passed into law, effectively

changing the way the United States, a country often

referred to as a nation of immigrants, receives

foreign visitors and migrants. September 11, 2001,

marked a major turning point for the U.S.–Mexico

border, because now in addition to illegal immi-

gration, drug trafficking, organized crime, and the

many other issues surrounding the border region,

it has become an important element of the U.S. war

on terrorism.1 The following segments highlight

the most aggressive legislation to come forward

since the attacks of 9/11, many of which will have a

profound impact on the U.S.’s common border with

Mexico and immigrants residing in the U.S.

Usa-patRiot act (OcTOBer 2001)

On October 26, 2001, less than two months after the tragic events

of 9/11, President George W. Bush signed into law the “Uniting and

Strengthening of America by Promoting Appropriate Tools required to

Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act”—more popularly known as the

USA-PATrIOT Act. The highly controversial law dramatically changed

the parameters of the government’s investigative and surveillance pow-

ers by authorizing unprecedented license to conduct secret searches,

tap into telephones and internet usage, obtain personal information,

and exchange intelligence between different agencies. The PATrIOT

Act also expanded the definition of terrorist activity and granted the

Attorney General authority to order detentions of “aliens” without

showing that the person poses a threat. According to the American civil

Liberties Union (AcLU), this new legislation has resulted in the depor-

tation and detention of more than one thousand immigrants, often

without due process.2

change of addRess ReqUiRement (2001)

In the months following September 11, in an effort to track non-citizens

residing in the U.S., the Department of Justice announced renewed en-

forcement of Section 265(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of

1952, which requires non-citizens to submit change-of-address forms

to the government within ten days of moving residences.3 For immi-

grants in the United States—many of whom are unaware of the law—

this piece of legislation is critical as the penalty for its violation can be

as grave as deportation, even if the person is a Legal Permanent resi-

dent (LPr). The first high-profile case of the law’s application, against

a Palestinian man, brought something of an administrative nightmare

to Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) offices around the

country, as personnel scrambled to process tens of thousands of forms

that began arriving daily. As the majority of these documents—now out-

dated—have yet to be processed, thousands of immigrants have been

put at risk of “deportation for allegedly failing to comply with the law,”4

as Michele Waslin points out, and the INS and its successor agency,

the Department of Homeland Security, have been swamped with more

information than can be managed.

enhanced boRdeR secURity and Visa entRy RefoRm

act (NOVeMBer 2001)

In the immediate investigations that followed September 11, it was dis-

covered that several of the hijackers had entered the U.S. on student

visas, which provoked congress to pass the enhanced Border Secu-

rity and Visa entry reform Act in November 2001. The bill, which was

signed into law on May 14, 2002, allows for the enhanced tracking of

foreign students by requiring schools they attend to provide INS with

their personal information and to certify that they have enrolled within

thirty days of arrival to the United States.

execUtiVe oRdeR by pResident bUsh: citizenship

eligibility foR foReign-boRn soldieRs (JULy 2002)

In July 2002, President Bush signed an executive order stating that

any foreign-born soldier serving active duty in the wake of September

11, 2001, was eligible for U.S. citizenship. The president claimed that

these soldiers were willing to put their lives at risk to defend the free-

dom of others and should therefore be accepted as full members of

the society they represent and protect.5 At a recent citizenship ceremo-

ny, Bush stated that there are currently more than 33,000 foreign-born,

non-U.S. citizens serving in the U.S. armed forces.

homeland secURity act (NOVeMBer 2002)

The Homeland Security Act (HSA) of 2002 is an anti-terrorism bill

that further increased federal law enforcement agencies’ citizen sur-

veillance powers and created the Department of Homeland Security

(DHS), resulting in the largest government reorganization in contem-

porary history. In a public statement, the DHS reported that one of the

principal points of its six-point agenda was to “strengthen border secu-

rity and interior enforcement and reform immigration processes.”6 Inci-

dentally, one of the numerous institutions that the DHS replaced after

its implementation in March 2003 was the INS, whose immigration-

related responsibilities were transferred to the U.S. citizenship and

Immigration Services (UScIS), a bureau of Homeland Security. The

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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ReaCtions to HYPeRBoRDeR

74

implication of this change is that the U.S.–Mexico border, immigration,

and consequently migrants themselves are now viewed as national se-

curity issues and threats since the DHS—an institution designed to pro-

tect the nation from terrorism—is now responsible for border control

and immigration services.

the aViation tRanspoRtation and secURity act

(NOVeMBer 2002)

In November 2002 congress passed the Aviation Transportation and

Security Act (ATSA), a law that requires all airport baggage screeners

to be U.S. citizens, thus uniting the concept of security with citizenship.

According to the legislation’s critics, ATSA implicitly criminalizes and

provokes fear of foreign-born persons by prohibiting their occupation

of jobs in airport security. Passage of the law resulted in the immedi-

ate dismissal of thousands of legal immigrant workers who had previ-

ously composed at least 20% of baggage screeners in airports across

the country.7

pRoposition 200: aRizona (NOVeMBer 2004)

The 2004 elections in the border state of Arizona brought a revival of

anti-immigrant legislation to its voters. Proposition 200—considered

very similar to california’s notorious Proposition 187, which was later

deemed unconstitutional—was passed by 56% of the state’s vote. The

law requires employees of the local and state governments to verify

the immigration status of people seeking government benefits, and

to report any violations that are encountered or suspected to federal

officials. Failure to report is considered a criminal offense, which ef-

fectively puts local police officers, health workers, public school teach-

ers, and all other government employees in the position to break the

law if they do not enforce the new legislation. The law also requires

proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The constitutionality of

the new legislation is being challenged by the Mexican American Legal

Defense and education Fund (MALDeF) with the argument that Propo-

sition 200 violates federal law because states do not have the authority

to establish their own immigration enforcement system and because

the law would “jeopardize the health and well-being of families and

children who depend on public benefits for their basic necessities.”8

The proposition also trespasses upon the United Nations Universal

Declaration of Human rights, which holds that no individual may be

denied health services and a basic education.9

intelligence RefoRm and teRRoRism

pReVention act (DeceMBer 2004)

considered the greatest intelligence reform since the National Se-

curity Act of 1947, this act creates the position of Director of National

Intelligence, currently served by Michael Mcconnell, who acts as the

principal adviser on national security issues. He oversees the National

counterterrorism center (created with this act) and promotes intel-

ligence sharing among all intelligence agencies such as the cIA and

FBI. The bill establishes a National Intelligence council to produce

national intelligence reports to the federal government and creates

the National counterterrorism center as a gathering point for all

terrorism intelligence. It also calls for the increase of border patrol

agents by at least 2,000 per year between Fy 2006 and 2010, increas-

es penalties for human smuggling, and provides extraterritorial fed-

eral jurisdiction over offenses related to nuclear weapons and other

weapons of mass destruction.10

Real id act (MAy 2005)

In May 2005, President Bush signed the real ID Act—an attachment to

a military spending bill—into law. real ID requires states to follow new

federal driver’s license standards, including fraud and tamper-resistant

features; biometric identifiers; and information about each person’s

name, age, Social Security number, and proof of identity, residency,

and legal presence in the United States.11 The congressional Budget

Office estimates the new system will cost each state $100 million over

five years, though critics claim it will be closer to $500–$700 million.

The federal government, the entity mandating the new standards, will

not cover these expenses.12 The driver’s license provisions take effect in

2008; any person from a state that has not adjusted its standards will

be unable to obtain federal benefits, access federal buildings, or board

airplanes.13 Temporary-visa immigrants will have a different license

from U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, asylum seekers, and

refugees, which would expire on the same date of that visa or after one

year if the visa holds no expiration date. real ID also includes new pro-

visions for asylum, requiring applicants to prove “race, religion, nation-

ality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was

one ‘central reason’ for their persecution”—something widely consid-

ered difficult to prove.14 The law further impedes non-citizens’ access

to due process by limiting the federal courts’ ability to review detention

and deportation cases and most “discretionary actions” taken by the

DHS. All provisions, aside from the national driver’s license standards,

went into effect immediately after being signed into law.

boRdeR pRotection, antiteRRoRism, and illegal

immigRation contRol act: the sensenbRenneR bill,

h.R. 4437 (DeceMBer 2005, NOT eNAcTeD)

In December 2005, the House of representatives passed the Border

Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration control Act of 2005

(H.r. 4437)—also known as the Sensenbrenner Bill for its sponsor,

representative James Sensenbrenner (r-WI), the chief proponent

of the real ID Act. The bill—which was not passed by the Senate in

2006—sparked controversy in the international community and ani-

mosity on the part of the Mexican government for its authorization of

seven hundred miles of new walls and fences along the border. The en-

deavor—which critics called reminiscent of the Berlin Wall—would have

cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $2 billion. A noteworthy clause was

the expanded definition of “smuggling” to include anyone who aids or

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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75

transports an undocumented person, thus putting migrant-friendly

churches, legal services, refugee agencies, and social service organi-

zations in the same criminal category as human smuggling organiza-

tions.15 H.r. 4437 also moved to make “unlawful presence” in the Unit-

ed States a felony and called for the involvement of local law officers in

immigration enforcement, something opponents said would have both

deteriorated trust between immigrant communities and their police

force, as well as distracted officers from more pressing issues of crime

and security.16 Although the bill was referred to the Senate committee in

January 2006 and was not likely to be approved, President Bush signed

a measure the following October, granting the DHS $1.2 billion for bor-

der security enforcement. Days later, he approved the construction of

seven hundred miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, despite

a call from Mexico’s President Fox to veto the bill, and a request signed

by twenty-seven other Organization of American States countries.17

opeRation JUmp staRt: national gUaRd deployed

to the boRdeR (MAy 2006)

In the midst of the heated immigration debate gripping the United

States in the spring of 2006, President Bush announced plans for the

implementation of Operation Jump Start, a maneuver placing 6,000

National Guard troops along the border. Then-president of Mexico

Vicente Fox immediately objected to the operation, concerned about

the prospect of an explicitly militarized border. yet Bush claimed the

deployment of the guard would only be temporary: by 2008, when

the Border control doubles its ranks to 18,000 agents, the National

Guard’s participation in Operation Jump Start will be terminated.18 The

troops are not meant to detain the migrants, but instead to operate

surveillance and report what they see to the Border Patrol, who still

holds the sole responsibility for capturing illegal crossers. reports

indicate that migrants are now more fearful of entering the country

illegally because of the military uniforms they see on the other side.

In July 2006, Border Patrol chief David Aguilar claimed apprehen-

sions on the southern border had fallen by 45% from the previous two

months—a sign that fewer people are crossing—as a direct result of the

National Guard’s presence.19

HeigHteneD BoRDeR seCuRitY

A new level of anxiety surrounding terrorism

and the country’s national security has shaped

the post-9/11 climate of the United States. The

well-funded Department of Homeland Security

undoubtedly represents the Bush Administration’s

most concerted effort to address the heightened

angst found in the government, media, and popu-

lation. As a result of the monumental adminis-

trative restructuring attending the creation of

the DHS, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection

(CBP) has become the agency within the DHS that

now encompasses the offices of U.S. Customs, U.S.

Immigration, Animal and Plant Inspection Service,

and the U.S. Border Patrol.20 Robert C. Bonner, the

former Commissioner of CBP, outlined the chang-

ing nature of his agency:

On the morning of 9/11, I realized that my

agency’s mission had been dramatically altered.

It was clear to me that the priority mission of

U.S. Customs had changed from the interdic-

tion of illegal drugs and regulation of trade, to

a national security mission—preventing terror-

ists and terrorist weapons from getting into the

United States.21

According to Bonner, because CBP works at the

border, its officers have the broadest law enforce-

ment authority of any agency in the United States,

bar none.22 CBP is composed of more than 41,000

agents who work to manage, control, and protect

all official U.S. ports of entry and the border ter-

rain between.

Since its inception, the DHS has annually

received increased funding from the U.S. govern-

ment. The institution’s budget for 2006 was $34.2

billion, a 7% increase from 2005. In 2006 the Border

Control received $37 million for the hiring of 210

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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additional Border Patrol agents, and $20 million

for new Border Control vehicles and aircrafts. Since

September 11, 2001, the Border Patrol workforce has

grown by nearly 1,200 agents, an 11% increase. The

2006 federal budget also enhanced the America’s

Shield Initiative, which calls for the application of

surveillance, video, and detection systems, among

other new technologies along the border,23 which

some critics point to as evidence of “the militariza-

tion” of the U.S.–Mexico border.24

One of the Department of Homeland Security’s

principal concerns for its effective enforcement of

U.S. immigration laws is the detention and removal

of illegal aliens from United States soil. The 2006

federal budget provided a hefty sum in order to

achieve this goal: funding for “enforcement” was

increased by $176 million, $90 million of which was

designated to detention beds and additional deten-

tion and removal officers. Other areas set to receive

funding included: repatriation costs (directed

toward desert crossings, $39 million); apprehension

of alien fugitives ($8 million); direct deportation of

aliens convicted of crimes back to their countries

($5.4 million); and DHS attorneys working to pros-

ecute immigration cases ($3.5 million).25

PusHing tHe BoRDeR awaY FRom tHe

uniteD states

Part of the Department of Homeland Security’s

vision for the nation’s protection involves expand-

ing surveillance beyond the border and U.S. ports

of entry. According to Bonner, CBP has “twin goals”

in its agenda—security and facilitation:

At present there are more American border patrol agents than soldiers in Afghanistan.

We are achieving these Twin Goals by employing

better technologies, managing risk, and through

a layered, defense-in-depth strategy that pushes

our borders—our zone of security—out beyond

our physical borders, so that we know who and

what is headed our way before they arrive.26

US-VISIT (United States Visitor and Immigrant

Status Indicator Technology), a program that has

adjusted the procedures for obtaining visas and

crossing into the United States, is an example of the

“pushing-the-border-away” strategy. As stated on

its website:

In many cases, US-VISIT begins overseas, at the

U.S. consular offices issuing visas, where visitors’

biometrics (digital finger-scans and photographs)

are collected and checked against a database of

known criminals and suspected terrorists. When

the visitor arrives at the port of entry, we use the

same biometrics to verify the person at our port is

the same person who received the visa.27

US-VISIT also claims to help protect the iden-

tity of visitors entering the United States, as one’s

biometric information cannot be stolen or used by

another person. According to P. T. Wright, Director of

Mission Operations Management for US-VISIT, “the

program separates the needles from the haystack”;

in other words, undesirable visitors can be stopped

from entering the U.S. before they depart from their

country of origin.28 In the summer of 2005 the sec-

ond phase of US-VISIT began its implementation,

as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags were

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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MOBILE VACIS Exclusion Zone

Cargo

Detector

Mobile VACIS

Truck Mounted Boom

Radiation Source

RAIL VACIS

Exclusion Zone

Detector

Radiation Source Operator

Station

Vehicle and cargo Inspection Systems (VAcIS) are used in U.S. ports and the U.S.–Mexico border. These gamma-ray imaging systems allow for fast inspection of containers, trucks, and personal vehicles to de- tect contraband items, weapons, and people. Other border inspection methods include canine scrutiny and surveillance cameras for remote areas along the border.

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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Opposite, above: Video monitors in a Border Patrol station in Nogales, Arizona. April 26, 2006. Below: Border Patrol agent Tony McAuliffe photographed in a monitoring station in Southern california on Febru- ary 17, 2005. This page, top: Border Patrol agent monitors suspicious activitiy. The station is equipped with surveillance cameras and sensors that detect illegal crossings day and night. That summer, President Bush signed an emergency $1.9 billion bill to increase border security. Below: This car was dismantled and reassembled in order to fit a woman behind the dashboard so that she could be smuggled into the United States. People often tolerate similar conditions for days when attempting to cross the border.

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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ReaCtions to HYPeRBoRDeR

80

distributed to visa holders entering the U.S. The

RFID tag is part of a document that visitors must

present each time they enter the country. When a

visa carrier reaches a crossing point, an antenna

positioned up to thirty feet away recognizes their

tag. Immediately the traveler’s biometric informa-

tion will register, notifying the guard of their iden-

tity before they arrive at the checkpoint. Over 41

million people have already gone through the first

phase of the program, 900 of whom were criminals

detected through this process, and 12,000 visas

have been turned down based on the applicants’

biometrics. As of the summer of 2005, only five

crossing points between the U.S. borders with

Canada and Mexico were testing the RFID tags for

the second phase of US-VISIT.

Within the new DHS/CBP “Security and Facili-

tation” strategy, the United States has also intro-

duced the Container Security Initiative (CSI), a

program that seeks to protect the global trading

system and trade lanes between ports around the

world. About 90% of the world’s cargo moves in con-

tainers, and nearly 7 million cargo containers enter

U.S. seaports each year. The purpose of CSI is to

change trade regulation processes by screening the

cargo entering the United States before it departs

from its point of origin. This is meant to ensure that

international supply chains will not be used for

the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction and

other illegal or dangerous commodities. At present,

eighteen countries have agreed to participate in the

initiative, thus connecting thirty-eight CSI ports.

With the introduction of programs such as this, the

U.S. is essentially pushing its borders away by con-

ducting U.S. immigration and customs processes

abroad instead of at its own ports of entry.

PusHing tHe BoRDeR awaY FRom mexiCo

The U.S. government is not the only actor interested

in pushing border activities away from the physi-

cal international divide; for both convenience and

security, Mexican government officials have agreed

to open the first foreign and Mexican customs facil-

ity in the United States in 2006. It will be stationed

in Kansas City, Kansas, the geographic center of the

NAFTA region, located almost 1,000 miles from the

border.29 The new facility is expected to induce cost

savings and to make the transportation of goods

between Canada, the United States, and Mexico

more efficient, as it will cut back on delays suffered

by truckers at the border. Upon arrival at Mexican

entry ports, cargo will be free to move across with-

out further inspection as long as the electronically

sealed containers have not been tampered with.

SPOKANE

BLAINE

HAVRE

DETROIT BUFFALO

MIAMI NEW ORLEANS R

AM EY

LAREDODEL RIO

MARFA

EL PASOTUCSON

YUMA

EL CENTRO

SAN DIEGO

LIVERMORE

Mc ALLEN

SWANTON

HOULTON

GRAND FORKS

9500 MEN & WOMEN SUPPORTED BY SOPHISTICATED TECHNOLOGY, VEHICLES, AIRCRAFT AND OTHER EQUIPMENT

21 SECTORS OF THE BORDER PATROL

16 BORDER POLICE STATION

4 TACTICAL CENTERS

TIJUANA

TECATE MEXICALI

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO SONOYTA

NOGALES CABORCA AGUA PRIETA

CD JUAREZ PALOMAS

OJINAGA

PIEDRAS NEGRAS

NUEVO LAREDO

MIGUEL ALEMAN REYNOSA

MATAMOROS

44 BORDER CONTROL STANDS IN BORDER ROADS

8 TRAIN CROSS CONTROLS

GUAYMAS CHIHUAHUA

MONTERREY

Romero, F. (2007). Hyperborder : The contemporary u.s.-mexico border and its future. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open('http://ebookcentral.proquest.com','_blank') href='http://ebookcentral.proquest.com' target='_blank' style='cursor: pointer;'>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from newschoolarch-ebooks on 2021-06-04 09:18:25.

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imPRoving tHe BoRDeR: tHe inteRest

oF eveRYone

The present circumstances of the U.S.–Mexico bor-

der have sparked action from a variety of groups

at both the grassroots …