Border Angels is an organization that advocates for migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border seeking better lives. Volunteers have placed water in the desert where migrants might collapse from dehydration, they hold tours of the Holtville Cemetery where more than 600 nameless migrants are buried, and they organize awareness events.
Enrique Morones founded the non-profit organization in 1986. Since then, he has been featured in the San Diego Reader and lately has even met with President Obama.
Outspoken about racial-discrimination crimes against migrants as well as the high percentage of unnecessary deaths due to extreme heat and cold weather conditions in the desert, last week Enrique held his 10th annual Marcha Migrante.
Marcha Migrante X
This year, the weeklong march started at Las Playas, the Mexican side of Friendship Park at Boundary Monument #258 where participants painted the wall so as to make it invisible.
From there, the marchers spent an entire week addressing migrant issues.
Sara Gurling, President of the Board, explained that Marcha Migrante is Border Angels’ annual conscious building movement.
Every year they have a volunteer base that gets together to decide what they are going to do for the march. In the past, Border Angels has gone across the country and they’ve held binational marches. Generally, they want the event to reflect the national narrative, so this year volunteers decided that the march should focus on family separation.
For a full week, their march focused on visiting many migrant shelters. They also visited NGO’s in Tijuana that have born the brunt of mass deportations under the Obama Administration.
Sara said, “We also have a greater mission this year, which is we are embarking upon a letter writing campaign. We’re trying to make sure that the Vatican hears that when the Pope comes here to this region that he comes here to the fence. So we’re having children binationally from organizations that work with kids on both sides of the border do a letter writing campaign to the Vatican.”
On Tuesday participants served breakfast to 1,200 migrants at a shelter. Wednesday they focused on the letter writing campaign in conjunction with DREAMers MOMS USA: deported mothers who hope to one day reunite with their children on the American side. Thursday marchers repainted the part of the wall with an upside down flag that names individuals who served in the U.S. armed services. They then focused on deported veterans. Friday marchers visited the unknown migrant graves in Holtville, California.
Representatives of Standing On The Side Of Love, a public advocacy campaign sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association that focuses on LGBTQ equality and immigrant justice, also participated.
Las Playas Sculpture
During the first day of painting the wall, an architect unveiled a project to create a fountain monument specifically dedicated to the migrant. It will be located in Las Playas across the street from the border wall. The monument is meant to represent the emotions of all the migrants who visit the area. It shows their hopes through two female faces that look to the North. Water comes down from their eyes, representing tears.
The march took place at a volatile time for migrant advocates. President Obama’s executive order protecting nearly five million illegal immigrants from deportation as well as the pending Secure Our Borders First Act (H.R. 399) have both caused a national stir.
While the march did not directly speak about policies–focusing instead on how policies affect real life people–back in November 2014 Enrique Morones was invited by the Administration to the announcement of the executive action, which took place in Las Vegas. During that time, they handed Enrique an invitation to the White House. He then went to a debriefing on the executive order and thereafter Enrique attended the White House Christmas Dinner where he was able to talk with the President.
At Marcha Migrante, Enrique said, “We are taking a lot of action. As a matter of fact, in March we are going to Washington D.C. again…We’re going to meet with the leading Congressman on immigration, Luis Gutierrez. We’re going to be going with Juan Vargas, the local Congressman, also very active. We’re actually having a Senator from Mexico join us…”
The fight to make sure that every life matters will continue. Enrique explained, “Nobody knows what action will be the action that will change the policies. That’s why so many organizations are doing so many things and I think it’s very positive.”
Meanwhile, Wall Building Continues
Only about one mile away from the Marcha Migrante, construction along the U.S.-Mexico border continued. Ever since the Clinton Administration launched Operation Gatekeeper in 1994 and erected military landing mat along La Frontera, a small piece of land between Tijuana and San Diego was deemed too steep for construction crews to build fortifications. As a consequence, the area always remained borderless. It existed near boundary monument #257.
A few weeks ago, a small construction crew with a CAT vehicle began to fence up the steep open area. It’s unclear whether this is a contracting company or perhaps the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, who originally erected the 1994 walls. They seem to have flattened the area and now are erecting more military landing mat that is higher and contains bollard fencing.
You might remember that due to a few pieces of legislation back in 2005, 2006 and 2007, Homeland Security has the right to waive any environmental or historic preservation acts that impede the effective building of walls. As a consequence, it is likely that this crew also bulldozed through Native American artifacts since the Kumeyaay lived atop these mesas prior to the Spaniards coming to this region.
Public relations officials at Border Patrol refused to answer email enquiries in a timely manner.
See the new construction taking place from Monday, February 2, 2015 — a reminder that wall construction and surveillance camera maintenance is on-going and unreported.
To volunteer, donate or attend the next Marcha Migrante, check out their website.
Stay tune for February 23rd’s interview with Deported Veteran Hector Barajas.