Immigrant Rights - Border Militarization (CERD Shadow Report, 2008)

Migrants, refugees, and immigrants in the United States are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, racial discrimination and racist violence, and face increasingly harsh barriers to participate freely and without fear in the social, economic, cultural and political decision and policy-making institutions, processes and activities that impact their lives and well-being. Their immigration status, whether they are documented or not, is a pretext to deny them their basic human rights. Migrants, refugees, and immigrants, especially immigrants of color and the undocumented, are arbitrarily arrested and detained, exploited at work, and are threatened with deportation to intimidate them and prevent them from asserting their rights, organizing or demanding justice.

Over the last seven years, the U.S. government has instituted a new era of assault on the rights of immigrants and refugees through new forms of racial discrimination, including policies, measures, laws and practices of racial, national origin, ethnic and religious profiling. This has taken place through three major areas of policy-making that targets immigrants and other people who may “look or sound” foreign, focusing on:
• The further criminalization of immigration status;
• The militarization of immigration policing and border control; and
• Further cementing immigration services and enforcement to the politics of U.S. national security and the “war on terror.”

One alarming development is the growing extension of United States border control and militarization strategies into the U.S. interior. Instead of increasing access to legal migration, U.S. border control and immigration control policies and strategies force migrants to cross into the United States through the most dangerous and desolate regions of the desert and mountains between the Arizona-USA/Sonora-Mexico border. The deadly gauntlet for migrants does not end at the border. Once inside the U.S., unauthorized entry is a continuing offense and a person is now subject to automatic jailing. (See Operation Streamline below.) There are only two “crimes” in the United States that have no statute of limitations: homicide and being an undocumented or unauthorized migrant. Though there are no parallels or comparisons between someone accused of murder and someone accused of being undocumented, a person – even after they become a legal permanent resident – who was once undocumented will always risk detention and deportation, even for minor offenses, because of immigration laws.