Zooming to the border for human rights
Fact-finding delegation executive summary
“It is at the border that the character of the nation is being defined, for better or for worse.”
— Fernando Garcia, Director, Border Network for Human Rights
If it is at the border that the character of the nation is being defined, for better or for worse, as Fernando García, Director of the Border Network for Human Rights argues, then the view from the U.S.-Mexico Border is both a damning portrait of national policies, and an inspiring vision of community struggle and resilience. For many, the image of Ellis Island as a welcoming gateway to the poor masses yearning to be free, seeking liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, eager to contribute their energy and intelligence to building the young nation, is iconic of the U.S. 20th century. It seems that the U.S.-Mexico Border is fast becoming the reference for this country’s 21st century, and, at least for the moment, a far less inviting image of fences and walls. Every issue that afflicts our nation today is magnified here at the border: racism, excessive force, the exploitation of essential workers, the ongoing separation and unequal conditions in schools, the inadequate health care system and environmental contamination and ecosystem destruction.
The Chicago-based sister publications, The People’s Tribune and El Tribuno del Pueblo launched “The People to People Fact-Finding Delegation to Border” in collaboration with a group of activists, researchers, and independent journalists, who are deeply concerned about human rights violations at the U.S.-Mexico border. From August through October 2020, the group convened five virtual panels representing different sections of the U.S.-Mexico Border. By making several virtual stops at border crossings along that route, in Brownsville, Texas-Matamoros, Tamaulipas, El Paso, Texas-Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, and Mexicali-Calexico, San Diego-Tijuana, we sought to reveal some of the specificities and commonalities between these embattled but nonetheless vibrant border communities.
Twenty-seven experts who are active in the border region collectively gave nearly 10 hours of eyewitness testimony to more than 400 listeners. Their testimony was given against the background of what is probably the most critical presidential election in U.S. history, and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The forthcoming report, which is based on the findings from this fact-finding delegation will be distributed to state, national and international governmental and human rights bodies.
The executive summary was produced by the following people: Eduardo Castro, Veterans for Peace Laura García, Tribuno del Pueblo Gloria Meneses Sandoval, California Central Valley Journey for Justice /Tribuno del Pueblo, Joseph Moreno, Ph.D. Student, Communication Department, University of California San Diego, Bob Lee, People’s Tribune Suzanne Oboler, Ph.D. John Jay College-CUNY Pedro Ríos, Director of American Friends Service Committee, US /Mexico Border Program, San Diego, CA Magdaleno Rose-Ávila, Building Bridges Elana Zilberg, Ph.D., Communication Department, University of California San Diego
View the 5 panel videos on our “ZOOMING TO THE BORDER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” page.