"No human is illegal": Arizona march on border patrol HQ

By Gery Armsby, Tuscon, AZ, in Workers World
30 October 1997

On Oct. 12, about 150 people met in the Mission Library Park in Tucson, Ariz. They sang songs of protest in Spanish and English as they painted signs declaring the "war on drugs" a phony and demanded justice for immigrants, Native peoples and all oppressed communities in the United States-Mexico border region.

One sign read "¡Ningun Humano Es Illegal!"-- no human is illegal. Another read "No Justice? No Peace!"

This was not just an ordinary Sunday picnic in the park.

The protesters marched to U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters. There they held a speak-out and erected a symbolic cemetery to commemorate the lives of victims of the Border Patrol's brutality and racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Native policies.

Speakers were local activists and community members, many of whom have experienced the brutality first-hand. Many passersby honked and cheered in support of the demonstration, and hoisted angry fists at the Border Patrol office.

Since 1993, more than 1,200 deaths have been linked to border crossings, making the United States-Mexico border the most dangerous terrain on the North American continent. Why so many deaths?

Because the area has been militarized by the heavily armed wing of the U.S. Immigration f Naturalization Services. The government has declared a phony "war on drugs" that grants the use of deadly force against anyone the racist Border Patrol deems suspect.

On paper, many Native nations have migratory border rights and are free to cross the border wherever and whenever they chose. But in reality the Border Patrol denies these rights to Native people on both sides.

The patrols are vicious throughout the 2,000-mile stretch of border territory, from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, Calif. They do not target cunning and dangerous "drug smugglers." They target the unarmed poor, the desperate, and the workers who are driven toward the United States by oppressive social and economic conditions created in large part by the U.S. ruling class and by NAFTA.

In the more than 1,200 deaths in recent years, not one Border Patrol agent has been charged with any wrong-doing.

The Oct. 12 protest was organized by Isabel Garcia and Derechos Humanos, the Arizona Border Rights Project. The demonstration was representative of a broad coalition of community residents and activists, members of unions including the Farm Workers, Food and Commercial Workers and AFSCME, student and youth groups, lesbian/gay/ bi/transgender groups and others.

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