Beyond Trafficking and Slavery

Human smugglers roundtable: Theodora Simon

Why are military tools being deployed against a humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexico border?

Theodora Simon
10 April 2017

Are border fortifications/restrictions a useful or counterproductive response to mass movements of people? 

In the area around El Paso, Texas, the massive movement of people is a reflection of the violence besieging Central America. The people arriving by the thousands at our ports of entry, or attempting to cross the border without ‘authorisation’, are fleeing some of the most violent countries in the world, countries whose governments are wholly unable to protect them. They are not a threat to our national security.

But here – and throughout the southern US – border security is increasingly being militarised: drones, military helicopters, heavily armed agents. This border fortification is designed for a national security threat, yet the US-Mexico border is not a national security issue; it is an issue of human security, a humanitarian crisis. 

The US-Mexico border is not a national security issue; it is an issue of human security, a humanitarian crisis.

And so, far from useful, border fortification in our communities is counterproductive. It undermines the safety and freedom of borderlands’ residents and migrants alike. Millions of residents’ lives and constitutional rights are threatened and interrupted by the security regime. Thousands of migrants perish in the desert. Asylum seekers face inhumane conditions in holding facilities and detention centres, and immigration authorities – emboldened by national security rhetoric – have a long track record of using racial profiling, excessive use of force, and abuse. 

Militarised border fortification responds to an inexistent national security threat. It does little to deter desperate families and children seeking refuge. Worse yet, militarisation of the border undermines human rights and civil liberties, compounds the suffering of migrants and asylum-seekers, and leads to more violence.

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