Tucson Stop: Part II
In Tucson, the border feels really close. It’s physical presence is clear. The city is within the 100-mile radius of the border, where Border Patrol has the right to set up checkpoints and conduct searches without warrants or probable cause. Border Patrol and ICE vehicles are everywhere, and the wall– or, often, line– is just over an hour’s drive away.
The proximity of this line and the fact that Arizona has recently been in the spotlight as it serves as a testing ground for anti-immigrant and racist legislation (our next blog post will talk about this more) means that we landed right in the middle of an active struggle focused on the conflicts, tensions, and particular circumstances created and amplified by the US/Mexico border.
On Monday night, we were invited to join No More Deaths volunteers at their weekly meeting. From their site: “No More Deaths is an organization whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative: the conviction that people of conscience must work openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights.”
HAVOQ has sent members to volunteer at the border for the past 5 years, and has twice sent queer delegations to volunteer and then return to San Francisco to share the work and stories from the border. It was great to have a chance to share some of our work with the gathering of close to 30 volunteers, highlighting how our visits to the border have opened up opportunities for us to make connections between the militarization of the border and the increased use of policing as a response to conflict in the interior, and specifically in San Francisco. For a linking of some of these connections in San Francisco, read this 2009 cover story in the Bay Guardian, Crossing the Line.
We also drew similarities we saw between NMD’s organizing principle of Civil Initiative and the ‘zine’s section on Fabulosity., a.k.a. Queer Organizing as a How. You can find our ‘zine in many formats here, and you can find out about Civil Initiative here.
At the meeting, volunteer Danielle Alvarado advised of the upcoming release of a “Culture of Cruelty”, a follow-up report based on NMD’s participatory documentation at the border with close to 13,000 individuals who were deported between Fall 2008 to Spring 2011. The report unequivocally depicts systematic and instutionalized abuse by Border Patrol, as it finds that 99.7% of people interviewed have suffered at least one type of abuse, but most were recipients of multiple forms of abuse, while in custody of Border Patrol. Click on the video below to hear more: