End the Abuses at the Border!

Members of Congress

Abuse

Eight children have died in US custody after being separated from their migrant or asylum-seeking parents. Thousands of migrants are being maltreated by our Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. Inhumane policies are being enacted by our nation in the name of “deterrence,” in defiance of international law and human decency. These abuses must stop!

We, the undersigned, demand the creation and passage of  Border Truth Commission legislation, so that the full truth of what the Trump Administration is doing will come to light, and reform practices may be immediately implemented.

The following is an excerpt from a piece in The Hill titled “Another migrant child death, we need a border truth commission.” It was written by Elizabeth Oglesby, an associate professor of Latin American Studies and Geography at the University of Arizona, Tucson and a researcher with the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification in the late 1990s. The sentiments expressed in this essay outline why a Border Truth Commission is needed:

"Can we trust DHS to investigate and regulate itself on these matters? The answer is no…

A truth commission done rigorously can investigate and document not only specific allegations of abuse, but also the strategies that underlie such abuses. Here on the border, that strategy is to punish migrants as a form of deterrence. This includes sealing urban entry points to compel migrants and asylum seekers to cross the harsh desert, detaining people in the "icebox" holding cells, deporting people to unfamiliar cities, often in the middle of the night, family detention, and most recently, family separation. It's a strategy that spans multiple administrations.

The number of Border Patrol agents has risen from 4,000 agents in the mid-1990s to over 20,000 today. Yet, as historian Greg Grandin shows, in its nearly 100-year history, the Border Patrol has never faced even minimal public scrutiny. This sets the Border Patrol apart even from other controversial federal agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose misdeeds and abuses of power were investigated in a post-Watergate bipartisan congressional probe called the Church Committee, led by the late Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho).

What would a truth commission for the border look like? One model could be the Church Committee. Another model could be the experience of Greensboro, North Carolina, where a truth commission comprised of prominent community leaders investigated civil-rights era murders and the failure of the justice system, presenting its report in 2006. Or perhaps it could be a hybrid: with congressional subpoena powers and the participation of nationally recognized civil society leaders.

Key is that a border truth commission investigation should be comprehensive and public. It should produce substantive recommendations not to patch up existing border policies, but to question where those policies came from, where they are taking us, and what sort of deeper changes we need. We owe at least that much to Jakelin Caal Maquín, Felipe Alonzo-Gómez and Claudia Patricia Gómez González."


Petition by
Kierstyn  Zolfo
Newtown, Pennsylvania

To: Members of Congress
From: [Your Name]

Eight children have died in US custody after being separated from their migrant or asylum-seeking parents. Thousands of migrants are being maltreated by our Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel. Inhumane policies are being enacted by our nation in the name of “deterrence,” in defiance of international law and human decency. These abuses must stop!

We, the undersigned, demand the creation and passage of Border Truth Commission legislation, so that the full truth of what the Trump Administration is doing will come to light, and reform practices may be immediately implemented.