I just attended a conference in Tucson, Arizona, at UOA, called Concrete Connections which focused on the walls being built along the Mexico/US border and through occupied Palestine by the Israelis. The situation is worse than I thought in terms of human lives, occupation, corporate corruption, and the criminalization of border crossings.
First, let;s be clear that on the scale of illegal acts crossing the border into the United States without a valid visa or border crossing card is illegal but so is parking in a fire zone. However, neither of the two cases is a criminal offense.
According to immigration law experts, crossing the border illegally only becomes a criminal offense when it is a “re-entry” into the country. That means that the person had to have previously been deported and violated the terms of his/her deportation. Yet, that little technicality escapes most people who are intent on seeing all undocumented immigrants as “criminals” and lawbreakers. As always, I ask, who defines and who benefits from the criminalizing of the human being walking across the imaginary line drawn by the mapmaker and occupier?
Second, the corporations funding the campaigns of and legislation sponsored by Arizona Republicans are also the same corporations who are building the border walls and developing new private prisons along the border for their new prisoners, such as Corrections Corps and Wackenhut. To the 7,000 construction workers, 350 engineers and 19 construction companies that built the barricade, at a cost of about $3 billion, the fence represents manna from Washington. If the fence has had any effect, it’s been to force people to cross the border in more remote desert areas. Reports say that it has driven up the death rate, which now averages two people a day.
Third, the same Israeli high-tech firms are contracted globally for building walls from Palestine to Mexico; Elbit on the US-Mexico border and Magal on the India-Pakistan border through Kashmir are two key examples. Companies working on walls are often also part of other aspects of the occupation and imperialist economies. Several supply various weapons and technologies to occupation forces, while others are heavily involved in settlement construction and/or industry.
I am just beginning my journey to help expose and fight what is happening here in Arizona but I am excited to see young and old activists engaged in everything from revolutionary abolitionism to humanitarian aid to the oppressed on both sides of the borders.