Border Wars

The wars on immigration, drugs, and "terror" all meet up in vivid detail in the U.S. Mexico borderlands, its cumulative force aimed at the migrants who continually cross into the United States without authorization in the context of vast structural disparities. This blog will chronicle this war on migrants, not only in the borderlands, but also the "virtual border" that follows them wherever they go in the United States, and increasingly extends beyond U.S. shores.

How Canada and Mexico Have Become Part of the U.S. Policing Regime
Dec 1, 2014
The United States is enforcing its economic borders over its geographic ones.
When Will Immigration Policy Include Undocumented Parents?
Nov 3, 2014
Despite the trauma of family separation, current immigration policy leaves out parents whose children can legally stay in the United States.
Expanding Insecurity
Sep 23, 2014
As immigration enforcement and local police continue to merge, bureaucracy has become a crutch on which the U.S. immigration policing apparatus leans.
The Real Story Behind the “Invasion” of the Children
Aug 25, 2014
The present "crisis" stems from the way our economy depends on separating parents from their children in order to exploit their cheap labor—and then our horror or dismay when they want to be reunited.
How We Scapegoat Children From Gaza to the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
Aug 6, 2014
Billions of dollars go from U.S. taxpayers to the U.S. border immigration enforcement regime and Israeli Defense Forces, while children are dehumanized with the same cold efficiency that deports, or even kills them.
The U.S. Roots of the Central American Immigrant Influx
Jul 8, 2014
The rise in unauthorized border crossings by Central American migrants demonstrates how U.S. immigration control and foreign policy in Latin America combine to produce violent results.
How Deportation Created A New Class Of Disposable Soldiers
Jun 19, 2014
The Department of Homeland Security has deported thousands of U.S. military veterans in recent years, giving new meaning to the militarization of the country's borders.
Border Patrol Agents Train for War on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Mar 12, 2014
A scathing report on the U.S. Border Patrol's use of deadly force reveals warzone conditions—the result of more than 25 years of Mexico-U.S. border militarization.  
Killing With Impunity on the U.S.-Mexico Border: The Global Color Line
Feb 25, 2014
A shooting by a Border Patrol agent in southern California last week and a recent U.S. drone strike in Yemen that killed members of a weddding party share much: the persistent power of empire and its associated violence along the global "color line."
The U.S.-Central American Border
Jan 31, 2014
According to DHS’s numbers, apprehensions of Central American migrants increased by 55 percent in 2013 over the previous year, with data that indicates an exodus coming primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
The Mobile State: Local Resistance Fights Border Patrol Expansion in Washington State
Jan 16, 2014
A new report documents the detrimental impact on families and communties brought about by the increased Border Patrol presence in the Olympic Peninsula area of Washington State. It also shows the importance and power of resistance to the Border Patrol's efforts to expand its geographical reach.
Meet the New Boss: Jeh Johnson
Jan 7, 2014
Jeh Johnson is the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, and thus oversees matters relating to U.S. immigration and boundary policing. An examination of his record makes clear that the new boss is more or less like the old boss. At the same time, Johnson brings baggage with him that is cause for worry.
Documenting Arizona's Autumn of Resistance Against the Border Patrol
Dec 23, 2013
While southern Arizona continues to be ground zero for the most extreme measures of border militarization today, it is also home to powerful nodes of civil resistance. On December 8, local residents from Arivaca and the surrounding area held their first protest at a Border Patrol checkpoint—one out of about a dozen located throughout the region. I documented the event in the video posted below.
In the Presence of Rocks: Border Patrol's Shoot-to-Kill Policy
Dec 4, 2013
Rocks—of various sizes and composition—are among the most ubiquitous landscape feature in many of the areas where the Border Patrol operates. If the Border Patrol’s use of deadly force policy continues unaltered, agents can potentially excuse virtually any deadly shooting, anywhere, under any circumstance.
Q&A—Siege Mentality: the Border Patrol’s Northern Advance
Nov 26, 2013
"What we’ve been doing for a long time is trying to raise awareness about these official actions, whether they be by the state police, local police, or Border Patrol—law enforcement agencies that are roving around, knocking on doors, pulling cars over, taking people off the steps of churches, taking people out of grocery stores, drug stores, or following kids home from school."
Border Patrol International: “The American Homeland Is the Planet”
Nov 20, 2013
Imagine the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of U.S. Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore.
Book Review: History's Sinkhole
Nov 6, 2013
How did the US-Mexican border become the place where the American past chokes on itself?
The Border Patrol’s Out-of-Control Growth
Nov 5, 2013
Efforts to overhaul the nation’s border security and immigration policies are revving up again in Washington. That means a renewed push for enhanced border policing, such as the $46 billion in the reform bill the Senate passed in June. That kind of spending would bring the Border Patrol’s creeping militarized mission further into the interior of the United States. The United States currently has 60,000 border guards, more than double the size of Ecuador's army.
Photo essay: One-year Anniversary of the Death of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez
Oct 15, 2013
On October 10, a binational march took place along the U.S.-Mexico boundary in Ambos Nogales to commemorate the murder of José Antonio Elena Rodríguez by the U.S. Border Patrol one year ago.
“Do the Yankees Want More Hitters?”: My Encounter With a U.S. Border Patrol Agent
Sep 17, 2013
An encounter with a U.S. Border Patrol agent near El Paso reveals much about the agency's institutional culture, and the dehumanizing nature of the larger apparatus of immigrant exclusion and boundary policing.
Border Security Results Act: Border Militarization Disguised as “Accountability Measure” in House Reform Effort
Aug 21, 2013
On the morning of July 17 a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles swooped down on Congresswoman Candice Miller’s office in Macomb County, Michigan.  Eighteen inches long and made of cardboard, these mini-drones were part of a larger protest.  Supplementing the barely-hidden racial anxieties driving much of contemporary U.S. immigration policy, the inclusion of the northern border as an enforcement priority is grounded in a post-9/11 logic of pre-emptive surveillance and "security" at all costs.
Dream 9 Continue to Challenge Unjust Immigration Policies
Aug 7, 2013
The Dream 9 remain in detention, but to continue to fight against detention, deportation, and the division of families and communities, demonstrating the way forward for all of us.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Homeland Security’s Humanitarianism
Jul 24, 2013
The "life-saving" practices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security illustrate the pernicious ties between official humanitarianism and a violent regime of immigration policing and exclusion.
Creating a Military-Industrial-Immigration Complex
Jul 16, 2013
The U.S. borderlands are today ground zero for the rise, growth, and spread of a domestic surveillance state. On June 27th, the Senate passed an immigration bill and the result, as Senator John McCain proudly said will be the “most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
Senate Immigration Bill and the Border Surge (AUDIO)
Jul 9, 2013
The pathway to citizenship outlined in the Senate's immigration reform bill would benefit a great number of people, but before those provisions can come into effect, certain border security triggers must first be met. NACLA’s Border Wars writer Todd Miller was interviewed on Berkley’s KPFA about the potential consequences of further border militarization. 
The Impossible, Costly Dream: Border Security
Jun 26, 2013
In the wake of the passage of the Corker-Hoeven amendment in the U.S. Senate, last week's sentencing of the Villareal borthers, former Border Patrol agents, on corruption-related charges, is a vauable reminder of the elusive nature of so-called border security.
On the Migrant Trail: Beauty and War in the U.S. Borderlands (Photo Essay)
Jun 12, 2013
A photo essay of the 10th annual Migrant Trail Walk through the southern Arizona borderlands. The walk happened during a time of intense debate regarding immigration reform and border enforcement, yet the thousands of migrant deaths that have occurred over the last 20 years have not been mentioned.
New Report Shows that Migrant Deaths Remain High in Arizona
Jun 4, 2013
A new report from the Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona shows that high numbers of migrant deaths continue to occur in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands—this despite a decreasing number of unauthorized crossings of the international divide. In other words, the borderlands are becoming increasingly deadly.
A Grandmother Stronger Than the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall
May 28, 2013
Taide Elena continues to fight for justice, six months after the U.S. Border Patrol shot and killed her 16-year-old grandson, José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, in Nogales, Sonora.
Shooting in the Dark: Why the Senate’s “Border Security Triggers” May Leave Millions in Limbo
May 22, 2013
On May 21, the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded debate on the “Gang of 8” immigration reform proposal. A significant component of the bill is a set of “border security triggers” that Homeland Security would have to accomplish before the pathway to legalization and citizenship would become available for most immigrants.
Death and the Immigration Control Complex
May 15, 2013
In less than one week, two Guatemalan citizens committed suicide in the privately-run immigration detention center in Eloy, Arizona. It is another horrifying glimpse into an ever-expanding U.S. immigration control complex where death has become very much a part of the equation.
From the I-Word to the I-Deed
May 1, 2013
The campaign to "Drop the I-Word" has achieved some significant victories. The challenge now for the campaign—and for all of us who support it—is to realize far greater promise by ensuring that it be strongly linked to efforts to achieve systemic change.
Chican@ Studies and the Fight Inside U.S. Schools to Drop the ‘I’ Word
Apr 24, 2013
Activists and organizers for Chican@ studies are playing a central role in the fight to compel Pima Community College to drop the "i" word from college curricula. The effort is inextricably tied to the ongoing movement for migrant justice in the United States.
Photo Essay: Profit and Violence in the Name of Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Apr 16, 2013
With border policing an important component of the comprehensive immigration reform package proposed by the so-called Gang of 8, this photo essay offers a glimpse of how this intensley border controlled universe looks from two distinct vantage points. The first perspective comes from businesses that want to make a profit, and the other is seen through the lens of binational protesters six months after the killing of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez by a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
Families or workers? Criminals or migrants?
Apr 2, 2013
A just-released report from the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona sheds new light on the effects of the U.S. government's migrant "removal" efforts and the growing ties of deportees to the United States.
Time to Rethink Immigration Detention
Mar 27, 2013
Last month’s sequester-related release of immigrants from immigration detention centers brought praise from immigrants' rights advocates and impassioned criticism from conservative politicians. If the surprise move by ICE accomplishes nothing more, hopefully it will prompt us to ask whether we want to continue relying so heavily on confinement as a tool for enforcing immigration law.
Security Made Simple—in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, Israel-Palestine, and The New York Times
Mar 20, 2013
The notion of security applied by The New York Times in its disucssion of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and Israel-Palestine obscures much more than it illuminates. In both cases, it helps to legitimate occupation and the associated forms of violence.
Big Bend Border: Unpoliced and Unequal
Mar 13, 2013
On the Texas border with Mexico, the isolated and beautiful Big Bend National Park is unique. Without many Border Patrol agents, it defies the notion that border policing is an enduring part of this landscape. At the same time, it upholds the fundamental inequalities of national border and immigration policy.
Civil Disobedience Against Deportation
Feb 28, 2013
The arrest of a parent of young U.S. citizen children, repeated countless times daily across the United States, caught the ire of a young day labor organizer riding by on his bicycle. After exhorting law enforcement not to arrest the dad, he crawled under the vehicle about to take him away.
Update: Autopsy Paints Troubling Picture in Border Patrol Shooting
Feb 21, 2013
On February 7, authorities released the autopsy report of 16-year-old Nogales, Sonora resident José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, painting a troubling picture of the tragic events of the evening of October 10, when a U.S. Border Patrol agent, firing from the United States, killed the teenager.
Living in a Constitution-Free Zone
Feb 13, 2013
Against the backdrop of drones and surveillance towers on the Northern Border, CBP agents repeatedly handcuff border-crossers, often brandishing weapons, conducting invasive body searches, and detaining people for up to 12 hours.
The Price of Security? Border Patrol Bounty Hunting in Northern New York
Feb 5, 2013
A new report focusing on the Border Patrol's Buffalo Sector in northern New York exposes what is essentially a bounty program—one in which Border Patrol agents receive bonuses for the number of people they arrest. These incentives, combined with larger institutional presures to produce arrests, have resulted in the arrest and detention of large numbers of individuals lawfully present in the United States.
Brooks County, Texas, and the Geography of Migrant Deaths
Jan 29, 2013
The number of migrant deaths in Brooks County, in the southern part of Texas, has exploded over the last year.
Collateral Damage on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Jan 24, 2013
The comprehensive immigration reform bill will soon be introduced in Congress could be great— normalizing the status of millions who are now forced to live in the shadows. However, if history is any guide, it could instead mean a ramping up of enforcement that creates a life and death circumstance for crossing migrants, as well as destroying the fragile eco-system of the borderlands.
The Struggle for Ciudad Juárez's Heart and Soul: An Experiment in Filmmaking
Jan 17, 2013
This past November I visited Ciudad Juárez, Mexico to witness the urban redevelopment taking place in the city’s historic district. With my digital camera I took about thirty minutes of footage from which I produced this seven and a half minute video, “La Ultima Taza de Café?” (The Last Cup of Coffee?).
Billions of Dollars—For the Children
Jan 9, 2013
A new report from the Migration Policy Institute documents record levels of spending on immigration and boundary policing. Often justified in the name of protecting children, the "border wars" and the diversion of billions of dollars to fund them, not surpriingly, prove ultimately to be quite harmful to children in myriad ways.
Convicts, Collateral Damage, and the “War on Drugs” in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands
Dec 4, 2012
Two recent cases from southern California provide insight into the identity of those who smuggle drugs across the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. More importantly they highlight how the ludicrous “war on drugs” produces casualties of many sorts.
Ronald Reagan and Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Nov 14, 2012
As talk of "comprehensive immigration reform" resurfaces, remembering Ronald Reagan—and the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)—reminds us just how radically the discussion surrounding immigration and boundary enforcement has shifted in a restrictionist direction in a short time. It also serves as a warning as to the potential pitfalls immigrant and border community advocates must avoid in the present day.
Remembering Jose Antonio: Day of the Dead in Nogales
Nov 5, 2012
On November 2, high above Nogales, Sonora at the Colinas del Buen Pastor cemetery, Taide Elena placed two lit candles on the grave of her grandson, 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez. It was the Day of the Dead in Nogales, and a binational procession remembered his life and demanded justice after the Border Patrol shot and killed him on October 10.
Ground Zero: The Tohono O'odham Nation
Nov 1, 2012
On a particularly dark stretch on the two lane road that traverses the reservation, a group of men appear in the opposite lane in the headlights of our vehicle and are waving at us to stop. They are a group of people without papers from Chiapas—hungry, thirsty, and visibly injured—migrating north through the Tohono O'odham Nation. This Native American reservation is increasingly becoming ground zero for the Border Patrol on the Arizona-Mexico border.
Men With Guns, Boys With Rocks in a Dangerous Land
Oct 17, 2012
On October 10, a U.S Border Patrol agent shot through an opening in the boundary wall and killed José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, in Nogales, Sonora. While the circumstances surrounding the incident remain fuzzy, the shooting appears to have been both unnecessary and easily avoidable. Moreover, it highlights the urgent need to de-escalate the multifaceted “war” in the borderlands and to demilitarize the region.
Back Home, an Undocubus Rider Continues the Fight
Oct 12, 2012
From July 29 to September 6, Eleazar Castellanos, a 46-year-old undocumented day laborer with Tucson’s Southside Worker Center, traveled with the Undocubus movement from Phoenix, Arizona to Charlotte, North Carolina. Armed with the cry “No Papers, No Fear,” the 40 plus riders carried their message of “dignity and justice for all” to the delegates of the Democratic National Convention.
Faith and Works on the Border
Sep 30, 2012
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican Human Rights Coalition have counted thousands of people who have died in the desert trying to get into the United States. In many cases the cause of death cannot be determined. Sometimes there is not even a way to determine gender. Some have died of violence, car wrecks, even hanging, but the vast majority have died of heat and dehydration.
Driving in the "Constitution-Free Zone"
Sep 20, 2012
One hundred miles into the interior of the United States was deemed a "constitution-free zone" by the American Civil Liberties Union. On this occasion, while driving home from work—from the border town of Douglas to Tucson, Arizona—L. Cruz challenges this federal power to stop and question people at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint located near Tombstone, Arizona.
Citizens in Name Only: Muslim-Americans on the U.S.-Canada Border
Sep 12, 2012
If you are a U.S. American Muslim crossing the international border into Michigan from Canada, be prepared for Customs and Border Protection officers to handcuff, detain, and interrogate you for perhaps two, but possibly ten, hours. The U.S.-Canada border is quickly becoming one of the hot spots of the post-9/11 homeland security era in the United States.
In the Name of Anti-Trafficking: Racism, Detention, and Deportation
Sep 4, 2012
Over the last two decades, many countrys and NGOs have sounded a loud drumbeat against “human trafficking." In the name of protecting immigrant women and girls, the resulting practices ultimately increase the detection, detention, and deportation of migrants. As in the days of Chinese exclusion, anti-trafficking rhetoric leads to the proposterous suggestion that immigration controls are in the best interests of migrants.
Families Divided: Dateline Nogales
Aug 30, 2012
It’s a steamy, overcast monsoon morning in Nogales, Sonora, just across the border from the United States. I’ve come to learn more about what happens to Mexican deportees, many parents of children, who are left off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  in downtown Nogales at two in the morning.
A Twenty-First Century Border: The Ever-expanding U.S. Boundary
Aug 22, 2012
From the Dominican-Haitian borderlands to Ireland, the United States is internationalizing its boundary policing. In the process, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is creating the 21st century boundary, one that involves enrolling other countries in U.S. enforcement practices.
Fuerza!: The Fight Against SB 1070 and the Prison Industry in Arizona
Aug 14, 2012
The struggle against Arizona's infamous anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070, continues. A key component of the fight-back involves a grassroots campaign in Tucson against the state's private prison industry via a broad community coalition called Fuerza!
Mexican Mobility and Canada: Hardening Boundaries and Growing Resistance
Aug 8, 2012
The government of Canada has made it increasingly difficult for Mexican asylum seekers to find sanctuary there. This has resulted in an increase in deportees, many of whom face highly dangerous conditions upon their forced return to their country of birth. In response, migrants and activists in Montreal have organized to challenge Canadian policy, creating new webs of solidarity across international boundaries.
Post-9/11 Sodus: The U.S.-Canadian Border on Display
Jul 25, 2012
Border Patrol forces are increasing at an astounding rate on the U.S.-Canadian border, and there are calls for more resources and personnel in the halls of Congress. Sodus, New York—located in the farmlands right off Lake Ontario near Rochester, is a vivid example of how this post 9/11 build-up is clamping down on rural areas.
Secure Communities' and the U.S. Immigrant Rights Movement: Lessons from New York State
Jul 11, 2012
In May, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposed the deportation program known as "Secure Communities" on New York State despite widespread opposition throughout the state and from Governor Andrew Cuomo. This development serves as a lesson about the challenges of fighting a federal immigration policing regime that few have questioned systematically.
Photo essay: Yo Soy 132 in New York City
Jul 3, 2012
On the late afternoon of Saturday, June 30, members of the Mexican community of greater New York City gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square and cast their ballots in a a symbolic vote for the country’s president. The action illustrates the dynamic nature of the U.S.-Mexico border region, while serving as a manifestation of the ongoing struggle to define it.
A Palestine-Mexico Border
Jun 29, 2012
Though different, there are many important and striking similitarities between the U.S. enforcement of its border with Mexico and the Israeli pacification of the Palestinian people. One such similarity is the companies involved. For example, Israel's Elbit Systems not only supplies the Israeli state with electronic detection systems along the wall of separation with the West Bank, but also won a contract to provide the same equipment on the Mexico-U.S. border.
Barack Obama’s Immigration Reform for Youth: A Dream Deferred?
Jun 22, 2012
The widespread approval of the Obama administration's recently announced immigration policy initiative—and the profound joy felt by large numbers of unauthorized migrants and their allies and advocates in the United States—is understandable in many ways. But the happiness should not cloud our collective ability to see the serious limits to Obama’s policy change nor, more importantly, dilute energies pushing for more far-ranging transformation of a fundamentally unjust system.
Will Obama’s Actions Finally Offer Relief for Some Undocumented Youth?
Jun 16, 2012
After years of inaction and mounting pressure, President Barack Obama has finally issued an order to end deportation proceedings against undocumented youth who might have qualified for relief under the presently-defunct DREAM Act. Yet while many are celebrating this move, there is reason to remain skeptical about the administration’s commitment to follow through on this promise.
Works Like a Machine: Deportation in a Presidential Election Year
Jun 13, 2012
While the Obama administration made promises last year to focus its “removal” efforts on those who pose dangers to national security and public safety, the overall number of deportations remains very high. The outcome is illustrative of how the deportation machine functions: if it can’t find “bad” migrants to send into exile, it simply produces them.
Bringing the Battlefield to the Border: The Wild World of Border Security and Boundary Building in Arizona
Jun 7, 2012
As the Border Security Expo 2012 shows, the Arizona-Mexico border region is Ground Zero for the development of an immigration enforcement apparatus which soon enough may travel from the U.S. southern border to a neighborhood near you.
Your Local Police Officer in Northern Washington State: A U.S. Border Patrol Agent
Jun 6, 2012
Small towns and cities in Washington State may seem like unlikely places for abuses by the Border Patrol, but that is what has emerged there as the agency's presence in the U.S.-Canada borderlands has grown dramatically over the last several years. The situation presents significant challenges for the wellbeing of families and communities in the area, and for civil and human rights more broadly.
Video: The Migrant Trail Walk
May 31, 2012
This week, more than 50 women and men will trek through 75 miles of ocotillo and saguaro cactus along the dry, desolate plains of the Sonoran Desert. But, as this video by Jake Ratner and Elena Stein shows, what they walk to witness is far from natural.
Photo Essay: A Long and Silent Border War
May 24, 2012
This collection of photographs, taken on the U.S.-Mexico border between Arizona and Texas, depicts the story of an often silent and often deadly war. The photo essay is in memory of Alfonso Martinez Sanchez who lost his life to this war in the Arizona desert in early May, trying to reunite with his family in California after his deportation in March.
Streamlining the Border Patrol
May 15, 2012
In this first-hand account of a back-and-forth between a federal judge and a young shackled migrant is a vivid look into the Border Patrolization processes happening in the country that will be a significant part of the new 2012-16 strategy, revealed to the public on May 8 with great fanfare.      
A Dangerously Slippery Slope: Drones and the Dream of Remote Control in the Borderlands
May 3, 2012
As the presence of drone in the U.S. borderlands becomes more pronounced, important lessons are to be drawn—from abroad and within the United States—regarding potential dangers ahead. They highlight the need to vigorously contest the the Department of Homeland Security's use of remotely-piloted aircraft for purposes of policing the border region.
The Killing of Anastasio Hernández Rojas, and the Boundaries of Accountability
Apr 25, 2012
Video footage and eyewitness accounts demonstrating how U.S. federal agents brutally beat Anastasio Hernández Rojas, tased him five times, and ultimately killed him in May 2010—all while he lay on the ground with his arms handcuffed—are calling for accountability. 
Secure the Border': The Sonic Barrier Consensus
Apr 13, 2012
In February, I visited the American Border Patrol (ABP), the vigilante group that claims to be the first to have used an unmanned aerial vehicle for surveillance on the U.S.-Mexico border. Though labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, ABP has much in common with the U.S. border enforcement policy, especially as the United States renews its call for surveillance technology and a "virtual wall."
The U.S. Border War on Easter Eggs
Apr 6, 2012
“The beer’s OK. But this egg here… this could be a problem,” said the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer, pulling a jumbo-sized chocolate Easter egg from our trunk and walking beside the car. "I’ve never seen one this big, but if it’s like the Kinder eggs, we’re going to have to confiscate it.”
Immigrant Detention in the United States: Hope and Change, or More of the Same?
Mar 28, 2012
While the Obama administration is touting its new immigration detention guidelines and showing off the federal government’s new detention facility in Karnes County, Texas, the larger picture of immigrant incarceration remains ugly. It is this fundamental reality of inhumanity, as a just-released report from New York University's Immigrant Rights Clinic makes clear, that we must keep our eyes on. 
Nogales, Arizona: The Border Patrol’s War Without End
Mar 21, 2012
A recent visit to Nogales, Arizona, and to the U.S. Border Patrol station there—the country's largest—brings home the dramatic transformation of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands over the last couple of decades. It also illustrates how U.S. authorities are envisioning and laying the groundwork for a "war" without end against what they construct as an endless supply of threats emanating from the Mexican side of the international divide.
Video: Immokalee Workers Fast for Justice in Florida
Mar 14, 2012
After more than four years of asking the supermarket chain Publix to sit at the table and negotiate a Fair Food Agreement, from March 5-10 Coalition of Immokalee Workers did a five-day fast to put the pressure on Florida's richest corporation. This video captures the fifth day of this fast.
Strykers on the Border
Mar 7, 2012
On February 26, I was driving with a friend in an isolated region of the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico when we saw a military tank positioned to be pointed toward the south. A lot has been said, written, and documented about the  degree and ongoing process of border militarization, but I had never seen anything like this. This wasn't any old tank, it was a Stryker—used extensively in both Iraq and Afghanistan by the U.S. military.
The Arizona Border Militia Scandal
Mar 1, 2012
A week after the scandal broke around Arizona sheriff Paul Babeu's threat to deport his ex-lover, Mexican Jose Orozco, I traveled to Pinal county to a community meeting where the sheriff was recruiting a volunteer armed posse for law-enforcement duties. It was here I caught whiff of the real scandal, the one that is pervading Arizona and, in many ways, the entire United States.
A Tale of Two Voyages and the Global Color Line
Feb 19, 2012
A recent tragedy in the waters separating the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico led to dozens of migrant fatalities. In comparison to the intense reporting on the sinking of the luxury cruise ship, Costa Concordia, off of Italy's coast in January, media coverage of the deaths of Dominican migrants was poor at best. The disparity exemplifies who counts and who doesn't in a world of great inequality.
Securing the Super Bowl With Border Patrol
Feb 15, 2012
Customs and Border Protection can transport the intense U.S.-Mexico border surveillance and security apparatus to anywhere in the country, including the Super Bowl. As with the border, this comes accompanied with an ever-tightening and strict enforcement web, that reverberates well past the actual boundary into the surrounding area.
U.S. Immigration Policy: Private Prisons and Shattered Families
Feb 8, 2012
In the United States, at least 5000 children are abandoned and left in state foster care, or in the care of extended family, when birth parents are arrested and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many parents are deported with their children having little hope of ever reuniting with them again. On this day, we’ve been cleared to visit with a couple of mothers from Mexico.
A Little Carrot, a Lot More Stick
Feb 1, 2012
The Obama administration is allowing Department of Homeland Security prosecutors to drop low-priority deportation cases, thus allowing some would-be deportees to remain in the United States for now. At the same time, the Border Patrol is implementing a new national strategy, one involving ever-more punitive measures aimed at making the lives of unauthorized migrants more miserable.
Guns, Drugs, and Money
Jan 25, 2012
The report Guns, Drugs, and Money articulates an alternative to current U.S. policy toward the Mexican border. It points out that terrorism against civilians has no connection to this border. The flawed drug war has huge presence there, but the U.S. government’s main “homeland security” effort still is directed against labor and family migrants who pose no security threat at all.
Border Patrol Youth
Jan 17, 2012
Maintaining inequality and injustice requires work, and the policing of the associated boundaries between the privileged and the disadvantaged. Increasingly, young people are involved in the project of exclusion—in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico, and Israel-Palestine.
2501 Migrants: A Photo Story of Oaxacan Exodus
Jan 11, 2012
In the late 1990s, Oaxacan artist Alejandro Santiago set to repopulate his town with 2,500 individual human sculptures, each representing a person who had left San Pedro Teococuilco to migrate elsewhere. Right now these sculptures are alive in the streets of Oaxaca city, documenting a strong sense of pain that rarely makes it into comprehensive immigration debates in the United States.
A Changing Climate of Violence in the Borderlands
Jan 4, 2012
As 2011 statistics demonstrate, violence continues to scar the U.S.-Mexico border, and climate change will likely intensify it. As recent publications suggest, declining agricultural output and gross socio-economic inequality between Mexico, Central America, and the United States are likely to increase unauthorized migration and militarized efforts to stymie it.
Operation Santa Claus
Dec 24, 2011
The Border Patrol Santa appeared again this year in Sonoita, Arizona. This Santa Claus agent has had a long history of helping the Border Patrol with its mission and strategy.
The Railroading of Border Security
Dec 14, 2011
A recent report on Border Patrol transportation raids in northern New York State demonstrates how "security" penetrates society in a virus-like fashion: it goes wherever it can. This has been reality in the post-9/11 era, where the Border Patrol has increasingly focused on interior enforcement, with harmful implications for human and civil rights.
Do Not Question the Border Patrol
Dec 7, 2011
Shortly after Border Patrol agent Bryan Gonzalez questioned U.S. drug enforcement policy to a colleague, he received a letter of termination that said that he held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and spirit de corps.”
Who Killed Joaquin Luna?
Nov 30, 2011
Last Friday, 18-year-old Joaquin Luna shot and killed himself in south Texas. Luna, an unauthorized immigrant who had lived in the United States since the age of six months, had become increasingly depressed about his life prospects given his immigration status and the defeat of the DREAM Act. His untimely passing highlights the complicated ways in which the systems of immigration enforcement and state exclusion produce deadly forms of violence.
The Washington Narrative on Migration
Nov 23, 2011
There is a disconnect in Washington of the correlation between free trade agreements and increased migration. Instead of an effort to renegotiate agreements that are impacting countries in Latin America, U.S. officials continue to put more and more resources into border enforcement, including a proposed possibility of using war-zone equipment from Iraq, and new surveillance technologies to create a "virtual" wall.
Ciudad Juárez Is Not Only Violence
Nov 17, 2011
Books like Murder City, by Charles Bowden, are a double-edged sword, drawing much needed attention to the violence in Ciudad Juárez, but convincing most readers that it would be foolish and reckless to ever go there. However, life does go on in Juárez, and not only that, it is a place where cross-border solidarity is more necessary than ever.
Children as Collateral Damage
Nov 7, 2011
A new report illustrates the tragic intersection of immigration policing and child welfare. Like the "collateral damage" brought about about by U.S.-war-making abroad, harm to children is an inevitable consequence of the ongoing "war" on  immigrants characterized as undesirable.
Holtville, California on the Day of the Dead
Nov 2, 2011
The Day of the Dead in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands is a time to remember the countless migrants who have perished trying to overcome the ever-hardening boundary and immigration enforcement apparatus.
Mexico Goverment-Drug Cartel Collusion: The Hybrid Threat
Oct 26, 2011
At an event at the Homeland Security Policy Institute called “The Hybrid Threat: Crime, Terrorism and Insurgency in Mexico,” Daniel Brito, of the Drug Policy Alliance, asked keynote speaker General Barry McCaffrey if there was complicity between the Mexican government and the drug trafficking Sinaloa Cartel. McCaffrey's answer offered a powerful glimpse into the drug war.
A Right to Work for All
Oct 19, 2011
The human right to work is increasingly under attack in the United States, especially for unauthorized immigrants. The recent case of The French Gourmet restaurant in San Diego shows how bad things have become. It also highlights the need for human rights and migrant rights activists to directly challenge a system that criminalizes non-citizens for laboring without official sanction.
Family Values at the Border
Oct 5, 2011
Deportation does great damage to families who are often divided by the U.S.-Mexico boundary. The hardships that deported migrants endure and their great efforts to overcome the obstacles that prevent them from reuniting with their loved ones in el Norte exemplify at their very best the "family values" that many in Washington rhetorically and emptily champion.
Of Landlords and Counterinsurgency
Sep 28, 2011
Politically powerful officials are saying the U.S. counternarcotic program towards Mexico has not worked, and are calling for a counterinsurgency strategy to replace it. The organized crime "raging along our southern border," they claim, is waging a "strategic-level" of war against the United States.
A Culture of Cruelty?: A New Report on U.S. Border Patrol Abuse
Sep 20, 2011
A major report released today by the humanitarian aid and human rights group No More Deaths paints a frightening picture of systematic and widespread abuse by U.S. Border Patrol agents of migrants in their custody. At the same time, it demonstrates the brutality inherent in the agency’s very existence and operation.
A 'Specific, Credible, Yet Unconfirmed' Threat: The Border After 9/11
Sep 14, 2011
Over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that there was a “specific, credible, yet unconfirmed” threat of a “terrorist” attack in New York and Washington D.C.. This is the permanent state of things on the U.S.-Mexico border. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 has produced many reports that speak to this reality.
Chasing People Like Animals—on Land and, Increasingly, at Sea
Sep 7, 2011
A former U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agent offers a perpective on immigration and boundary enforcement almost never heard of in the halls of power in the United States.
S-Comm President
Aug 31, 2011
On August 30, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that deportations would continue to be "very robust." Why? Because of a recent federal decision to impose the controversial Secure Communities program on the entire country by 2013—a program, opponents say, that is tearing families apart.
Eyes on the Border
Aug 24, 2011
The Department of Homeland Security has revealed that it is employing a new radar system—called VADER—that has significantly augmented its ability to surveil the borderlands and the people passing through from high up in the sky.
Insecurity at Home and in the “Homeland”
Aug 17, 2011
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement promised in June to be more discriminating in terms of who it targets for arrest and deportation. A recent raid of a home in southern California, however, shows the hollowness of the pledge. It also displays the inherent dangers of the immigration policing apparatus for civil and human rights.
A Successful Failure
Aug 10, 2011
Given the impossibility of U.S. drug interdiction efforts in the borderlands, the beauty of the drug war for those championing—and profiting from—its undertaking is that there can never be enough resources. In this regard, nothing succeeds like failure.
Further Marginalizing the Already Vulnerable
Aug 5, 2011
Latino households in the United States experienced a record decline in wealth in 2005-2009. It looks like U.S. immigration and border enforcement is significantly to blame.
KBR and the Tale of Two Walls
Aug 3, 2011
A lot of media attention has been given to the Arizona state government's latest anti-immigration ploy—to build its own border wall, in defiance of the federal government, on the boundary between the state and Mexico. Much less attention has been given to an emerging corporate-state nexus which is both obscured by, and a result of, this type of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric found in Arizona.
Deportation in the Age of ICE
Jul 27, 2011
A recent report reveals that large increases in the number of individuals deported for drunk driving, minor traffic violations, and violations of immigration law have played a significant role in fueling the dramatic rise in immigrant deportations from the United States over the last few years. In doing so, it illustrates the dangers of embracing the slippery slope of deportation and the immigration enforcement apparatus more broadly—an error committed by all-too-many advocates of comprehensive immigration reform.
Lawlessness in the Name of the 'Law'
Jul 20, 2011
This NACLA audio interview with the Center for Biological Diversity looks at the myriad environmental and Native American heritage laws that the Department of Homeland Security waived in 2008 to construct 470 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. While environmental groups and Native Americans say that waiving these laws has done tremendous damage to ecological and human communities along the border, this law-waiving-fervor has gone in vogue in some sectors in Washington, all in the name of "securing our borders."
A Right to Move—and to Stay Home
Jul 13, 2011
Recent reports indicate that the number of Mexican migrants entering the United States outside of authorized channels has declined markedly over the last several years. The question is, why? Among other matters, the answers point to the necessity of achieving livelihoods of dignity and socio-economic security in migrant-sending areas so as to allow the people who live there the option--indeed the right--to stay home.
An Uncomfortably Close Encounter With the Homeland Security State
Jul 6, 2011
A personal narrative of an encounter with the Border Patrol on the Tohono O'odham Nation in Southern Arizona. This close encounter with the Homeland Security state gives a glimpse into a place where anything and everything can be justified under the guise of national security and "securing our borders," trumping any impediment in its way. It is this that inspired six Native American activists to lock themselves down at Border Patrol Headquarters in Tucson in May 2010, and who finally won the subsequent court battle on June 29.
A Time to Apologize?
Jun 28, 2011
This past Sunday, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas "outed" himself as an "illegal alien" in the pages of The New York Times Magazine. The reaction of many in the media establishment has been to dwell on Vargas's practices of deception that allowed him to "pass" for so long. In doing so, these pundits obscure and normalize the apartheid-like system which denies unauthorized immigrants many basic rights, and their complicity in its perpetuation.
Shadow Wolves, Border Militarization, and the Tohono O'odham Nation
Jun 22, 2011
There have been different responses to increased immigration over the Arizona-Mexico border on the Tohono O'odham Nation. One has been the dramatic increase of federal immigration enforcement agents and technology on the Nation. The other has been an attempt to put water along migrant routes, in attempt to stop migrant deaths. All of this has taken place on a Native American reservation, whose aboriginal land has been divided by the U.S.-Mexico border.
Waging Anti-Immigrant Lawfare—From Alabama to Washington, D.C.
Jun 14, 2011
On June 9, Alabama governor Robert Bentley signed into law what many see as the harshest anti-immigrant bill passed thus far by any U.S. state. H.B. (House Bill) 56, also known as the “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,” exceeds Arizona’s infamous S.B. 1070 in its ambition. Failing federal intervention to block it, the bulk of the law is scheduled to go into effect on September 1.
A Peace Movement Emerges in Brutalized Juárez
Jun 11, 2011
On June 10, a new movement was born in Mexico. A peace caravan of hundreds of people from all over the country arrived to the border city of Ciudad Juárez to sign a national social pact with the goal of ending the militarized drug war in Mexico. This drug war has killed approximately 40,000 people since Mexican president Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006. This pact was appropriately signed in brutalized Ciudad Juárez, an epicenter of drug war-related violence, where 7,000 of these killings have taken place.
Photo Essay: Walking the Migrant Trail
Jun 8, 2011
From May 30 to June 5, I participated in the Migrant Trail Walk, a 75 mile walk from the U.S.-Mexico border to Tucson, Arizona, traversing the Altar Valley, one of the hottest stretches in the Sonoran desert during the summer months. This eighth annual walk was done in solidarity with the thousands of migrants who cross into the United States clandestinely, and in remembrance of the thousands whose bodies have been recovered, many in the same vast desert where we walked.
The 'Enemy' Within
May 31, 2011
On May 24, authorities in Arizona arrested three Maricopa County sheriff's employees for alleged involvement in migrant and drug smuggling; reportedly, they were able to use intelligence from the Sheriff’s office to guide smugglers through the greater Phoenix area. The arrested included a deputy in the human-smuggling unit.   WhatJoe Arpaio (Credit: RICHARDS/Getty) is noteworthy is that the...
The Homeland Securitization of Education in the Borderlands
May 25, 2011
On April 26, eight high school students ran from their seats in the audience of a Tucson, Arizona district school board meeting shortly before it was scheduled to begin, and occupied and chained themselves to the chairs of the board members. The students were there to defend the district's Mexican-American studies program, under threat by new legislation that put ethnic studies curriculum in...
Border Build-up Drones On
May 18, 2011
Many who perceive U.S. immigration and boundary enforcement efforts as insufficient, President Barack Obama asserted in his immigration speech in El Paso last week, “will never be satisfied.”   This impossibility of satisfying those who feel they never have enough certainly helps to explain why security is a proverbial black hole—and a highly lucrative one in terms of the political, financial,...
Steven Seagal and the U.S.-Mexico Border
May 11, 2011
On March 24 actor Steven Seagal led a posse from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in a SWAT tank, along with other armored vehicles, to a Phoenix, Arizona neighborhood where they raided the house of a suspected ring-leader of a cock-fighting operation, the sleeping and unarmed Jesus Llovera. This was nothing new for the Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio. Llovera was another Latino target for...