Friday, September 3, 2010

Border Patrol Agents Flood Arizona

By Paul Teitelbaum
Tucson, Ariz.
Published Sep 2, 2010 9:44 PM

Many people heaved a sigh of relief when a federal judge enjoined portions of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070 in response to a lawsuit filed by the federal government. But, court order or no court order, the situation on the ground in southern Arizona has worsened. Arrests and detentions are increasing, and there are noticeably more Border Patrol agents roaming the streets of cities like Tucson, which is more than 60 miles north of the border with Mexico.

The pouring of hundreds of millions of dollars into Department of Homeland Security projects for so-called “border security” has not only allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to continue its terror raids but has also allowed the Border Patrol to steadily increase its number of agents and move them further and further north, away from the border and into the cities.

Although they do not openly enforce the local laws, make traffic stops or question people on the street, there are enough BP agents available to respond to a dispatch from local police within 10 to 20 minutes. And, even though there is no “Secure Communities” or 287(g) agreement in place between the DHS and the cities of Tucson and South Tucson, cops in both these cities have been routinely calling BP agents to the scene of traffic stops. A burned-out taillight or too-dark window tinting often turns into the nightmare of detention and deportation.

Jason Aragon, a videographer with PanLeft Productions, is also a member of Tucson’s Migra Patrol/Cop Watch project. He trains people on how to videotape and document the actions of cops and BP agents and says that in the last several weeks there has been a significant increase of phone calls from people who are stopped by city cops and have BP agents show up soon after.

Migra Patrol, he explained, dispatches between 20 and 30 people on weekend nights to respond to these types of calls for help. A Migra Patrol crew will arrive at the scene, capture it on video and document what they see, and then upload the video to YouTube for public viewing.

Many people from the community are joining Migra Patrol to help. In an alliance with local immigrant rights group Derechos Humanos, the Yo Soy Testigo (I am a witness) campaign has been launched. Yo Soy Testigo has a 24/7 phone number of 520-261-5890 and has volunteers ready to respond. Aragon said, “This is like 911 for people stopped by the cops and border patrol. Who else can they call?” This is also the first step of people coming together to act in their own defense.

On Aug. 13 Congress allocated $600 million and President Barack Obama signed an emergency supplemental appropriation, HR 6080, for “border security.” This money, which should be spent to keep our schools and hospitals open, will instead be used to infest our streets with more BP agents who will terrorize workers and rip families apart.

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