Members of Congress, Advocates Demand Border Patrol Audit
Ten Members of Congress, including Washington Representatives Jim McDermott and Adam Smith, have signed onto a letter calling for an independent investigation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection civil rights practices by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The letter instructs the GAO to investigate Border Patrol practices that "undermine immigrant communities’ trust in law enforcement, violate people’s civil rights and adversely impact public safety."
OneAmerica has been working with allies in the Northern Borders Coalition to push for such an audit in the wake of revelations regarding harassment and profiling by Border Patrol within its ever-expanding jurisdiction. Learn more about these incidents in OneAmerica's report The Growing Human Rights Crisis Along Washington's Northern Border.
OneAmerica Report Featuring Testimonies from Border Region
OneAmerica and The UW Center for Human Rights will host a public launch for The Growing Human Rights Crisis Along Washington's Northern Border report as part of the Center's annual symposium and reception celebrating human rights in our communities.
Northern Border Project
For decades, communities living along the southern border have endured in an environment where human and civil rights are constantly assaulted by U.S. Border Patrol. More recently, communities along the northern border have discovered how a federal agency - which lacks both accountability and transparency - can make our communities less safe.
On February 28, 2011, a father in Lynden, Washington, spoke Spanish when calling 911 to request medical attention for his son Alex. A simple call for help turned tragic when local law enforcement brought Border Patrol along to “translate.”
Alex Martinez, a U.S. Citizen and a father himself, was shot 13 times. It seems that Border Patrol never even used Spanish that day. His tragic death has yet to receive a just and independent investigation. Instead, Border Patrol has denied responsibility and impeded a thorough review of their involvement.
As OneAmerica's Northern Border Project has discovered in over a year of on-the-ground interviews, observation, and research in border communities, Alex's family is not alone. His story is echoed by thousands of others whose lives are marked by fear, mistrust, harassment, and abuse, exacerbated by a close collaboration with local law enforcement. It’s clear that U.S. Border Patrol is abusing their authority in these communities. Within 100 miles of the border, people of color, immigrants, and religious minorities are profiled, harassed at church, repeatedly stopped for minor traffic or pedestrian infractions, searched without probable cause, or, in Alex's case, worse.
Latinos and Muslims shouldn’t be afraid to call 911. Our neighbors shouldn’t be harassed on the way to a food bank or while attending church. Border residents shouldn't have to forfeit their rights because of where they live and work.
Through community organizing, building organizational alliances, and human rights documentation, OneAmerica's Northern Border Project has been working within immigrant communities to build power to advocate for immigrant, human, and civil rights near the border and to change policy around racial profiling and harsh immigration enforcement that separates families and violates international conventions of Human Rights.
Together We Will:
- Address increased incidences of human rights violations in immigrant communities, especially in the northern Washington counties of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish.
- Push for greater human rights accountability by examining and proposing changes to policies around national security and immigration enforcement.
- Use community organizing, leadership development, and human rights documentation, to build leadership in immigrant communities to help them become stronger advocates for their civil and human rights.
Northern Border Project Events
February 28 - We Are The Border: National Day of Action
In memory of Alex Martinez, we will join together for a national day of action to re-map “the border” and lift up our stories of living in the Northern, Southern, and coastal Border Communities. All across the country, people of conscience are organizing vigils, teach-ins, demonstrations, or “know-your-rights” meetings to lift up the civil rights crisis along our borders. (More information on this event to come.)
GET INVOLVED: In preperation for this event, help us re-map the border! Use your camera phone or webcam to send a picture with a sign saying: “(Your City), I am the Border.” Click here to upload your photo, sign up for a toolkit, or to register to host an event.
Together we can make a powerful call for just and humane border policy. We are the Border. We are Alex Martinez.
February 1 - People's Hearing
The Northern Border Project, in its first public event, will convene a People's Hearing in Lynden, providing a space for community members to come togather and share stories about living in a border community. We have invited a respected panel of community leaders to bear witness to these stories. This panel will issue a statement about conditions in the area and collaboration between Border Patrol and local law enforcement.
5:30-8:00pm, February 1
People's Place at the Fairgrounds
1775 Front Street
Even along the border we have a right to community safety! More info available here.
Northern Border Coalition
Just as those we advocate for are not alone, neither are we. OneAmerica is joining partners who are hearing the same concerns stretching all across the U.S.-Canada border - from Washington to Michigan to New York. Several organizations came together to create the Northern Borders Coalition and share capacity and strategies amongst members that address new border challenges and collaborate with other partners in the Southwest (read more here).
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VIDEO: 3-min. stories of fear and abuse along the northern border in Lynden, WA
National Day of Action
On February 28, 2012, all across the country, allies helped "remap the border," remembered Alex Martinez and lifted up our stories of living in northern, southern and coastal border communities.
Northern Borders Conference
February 23 & 24, 2012 - Detroit, Michigan
Follow the Northern Border Coalition on Twitter @NorthernBorders and use the hashtag #wearetheborder.
February 1 - Lynden, WA