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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Monday, December 24, 2018

Yikes! Backing into the police....

To say navigating around Tijuana is difficult is like saying tossing 6000 pounds over your head is difficult. Between reading the Spanish and then figuring out which right they want you to take, and then because much of the action is so close to the border, literally like feet, I find myself almost stuck in the streets heading back over the border only.

Today, after trying to figure out which left I was supposed to veer towards (which turned out to be the other left, a right!) I ended up stuck in traffic on the bridge to San Diego. A young man hurries over to me, asking me if I really want to be crossing into the u.s.ofa.

How he knew I was stricken to be in this line, I'll never know. He tells me he'll walk me back down the 4 lanes of traffic. When I tell him no thank you, I can back up myself, he tells me the police are going to give me a ticket if he doesn't accompany me.

He calls over another man, who comes running up to breathlessly talk to me to interpret for his friend. I tell him again I can back up by myself. As they are now both insisting, I ask if they're wanting money for assisting me. $20 u.s.ofa. dollars, sola!

I tell them no thanks and proceed to back up. Thankfully there is hardly any traffic and I can back up easily. When I get within maybe 20 feet from the place where I can dash over to the other left, there's a police car sitting at the intersection. He starts his car and pulls in behind me, forcing me to stop.

He approaches the truck after talking into something on his shoulder and tells me how dangerous my
maneuvering backwards down the road is... I agree and then speak to him only in english - I tell him the men up ahead told me I had to back up.  He asks for my license, studies it, and then tells me to hand over my papers.

I tell him I keep getting lost and pull out my cell phone, show him maps, drop the Marriott name and ask him as innocently as I can where should I go? He wants to know if I have anything illegal in the truck. Thank goodness I've totally unloaded so the back only has my clothes and veggie oil tanks. He peers in and is satisfied. When I accompany him around the side of my truck, I tell him this is my home. His eyebrows shoot up and he tells me I do not need to open the door.

Back at the driver's side door, he tells me he is going to write me a ticket and I will have to go to the police station. I stare dismayed at him and ask how much will that be? He answers me in Spanish a mil something. I ask in dollars and he says $50. "What?" I shriek. "That's sooooo much money." I'm externally upset (altho internally relieved - I can cover that!)

He seems to soften so once again I whip out my phone, hold it out to him and ask for the address, which he either doesn't know or won't say but tells me it is far and I have to follow him. Okay, I've been there before.

I put 'police station' into my maps and several options pop up. I ask him to point out which one I have to go to. He tells me nevermind, he doesn't want me to go to the police station, he's not going to write me a ticket.

Now this is tricky. Do I offer him money as he's letting me off or will that be bribing an officer? I figure I can only pretend to misunderstand if he challenges me. I pull out the two 5's and three one's that I have in u.s. money, telling him I don't have $50 but this is all the cash I have now. I think he's going to take it but instead he walks me to my driver's side door, tells me to be careful when backing up the rest of the way, and to take the fork in the road.

I think he's going to escort me but instead he gets into his vehicle and takes off.

Okay, I back across 4 lanes and then head forward on yet another exit that luckily doesn't send me over the border.

What I learned today #4 … or stuff you need to know when volunteering to assist refugees

One of the first things you need to know is that migration across the ‘border’ (although the true framing is that the border migrated across the people and their land) has been happening since we 'drew' these ‘borders’ during the ‘forming’ of the u.s.ofa. in the 1800’s.

So you also need to know this ‘forming’ of borders came about through war, violence, even legislation and laws, as well as the threat and use of military and police violence.

And another very important thing to know is that groups and organizations as Enclave Caracol and Al Otra Lado and the intensely difficult work of body recovery of Aguilas del Desierto have been happening for many many years if not decades.

So what is different now about this migration movement? One of the biggest differences is the massive scale at which refugees are arriving. But the other even bigger difference is that the u.s.ofa. and Mexico are collaborating together to shut down the border for asylum seekers. And trust me, they are coming up with crueler and crueler ways to hurt these most vulnerable human beings.

These two governments are engaging in a totally ILLEGAL, let alone inhumane process.

The u.s.of a. has instructed the Mexican government to direct a few refugee men (like 4 or 5) to create a list of names and hand out numbers in order to make refugees wait – most of the time far away – until their number is called to even begin the walk over the border.

Can you imagine being one of those refugee men making his fellow country people come to him for a number to not just get across the border but to face an immigration official (not even a judge) who will decide if they can even pursue asylum.

It is clearly both an absolution of responsibility on the part of both governments, and a divide and conquer tactic that foments distrust and ‘corruption’ that can be blamed on refugees themselves. For example, a mother approaches you, desperate to get to a safe place so you demand sex in exchange for the next number; a man with money tucked into his worn shoe approaches you with $100, more than you’ve had in your hand for the past year, so you sell him a number.

The vulnerable exploiting the vulnerable, everyone perilously close to starvation if not death.

The making of a list itself is in and of itself illegal. People seeking asylum are legally supposed to walk over the border. Period. No list, no number.

The getting your name on a list and being assigned and holding onto your number is the ONLY way a refugee can cross the border now. Several awesome legal groups are suing over this list and number shit.

Once you’re lucky enough to get a number and be put on a list, you have to figure out how to find out when your number is going to be called and then how to get from El Baratel or wherever you’ve landed to the border crossing.

If your number is called and you’re not there, too bad for you. You go to the bottom of the list.

So 18,000 to 19,000 numbers have been given out since the beginning of December when the list was instituted. At an average of 40 numbers called a day, plus with more refugees landing here daily, you can imagine how long people will have to try to survive in refugee camps. Every day, the u.s. tells the Mexican government who then tells the four refugees in charge of handing out numbers, how many numbers will be called that day.

Maybe it will be the truth; maybe it will be a lie.

I understand that often the number called is 0, and the most called might be as much as 80. Again, think about how the hell you will be able to find out if your number is called? Plus an excuse of the u.s.ofa. government limiting refugees to such a low number is their claim that they can’t handle it. They process 200 THOUSAND people daily across the border – and they can’t do a few thousand more? Puleeze

The other thing that those in positions of power are doing is viciously spreading rumors: telling people the border crossing will be closed tomorrow when they really intend to open; or that they are only taking 2 numbers when they end up calling 10 or 100 and then you’ve missed your chance. Keeping people confused and jumping through high hoops they have little or no chance of clearing.

Prior to the number list, the average wait in a refugee camp was five weeks; now it’s at least a twelve week wait. Three months  - after walking for months.

So now suppose you’ve been at the entrance to the border crossing when your number has been called. What next?

You cross the border into the heavily armed arms of the Border Police where you will have to face an administrator – probably a white male who doesn’t speak Spanish – and tell them in enough compelling detail about the worst violence you’ve ever fallen prey to and then wait and see if this man judges you damaged enough to allow you to proceed to the Credible Fear Interview (CFI).

Suppose you ‘pass’ your admittance to the CFI, then you will be stripped of all layers but one of clothing and thrown into a concrete holding cell that is called the Ice Box for at least several days, often for weeks, until you are able to go to your interview. You will most likely not be allowed to remain with your husband (especially if you’re not 'legally' married, thus the great number of marriages being hastily performed at the border or along the route) or children or mother.

Or if you stumble into a kinder Border Patrol, you might get released quicker with an ankle bracelet that you are forced to rent at $490/month – not dissimilar to people caught in the prison industrial complex on this side.

So let’s get this clear: you’ve experienced horrific violence, so physically, mentally, emotionally damaging you actually believe you are going to be killed, or you are going to or have watched your child, your father, someone you love being killed first.

You’ve fled your home, your family, your country; walked, bused, run, scooted sometimes thousands of miles thru the worse hostile terrain, without food, without water, with or without children; with or without parents. You’re exhausted and probably sick, scared and probably suffering.

You reach the border crossing into the u.s.ofa. and attempt to cross as a human being seeking asylum, and are turned back, blocked from crossing, forced to remain in a foreign country where your life is still in danger, where you have to stand, sit, sleep on the ground somewhere close to the border crossing, compete with thousands like you; then your number finally comes up, you step across the border onto u.s.ofa. soil and into the heavily armed arms of police. 

Then you’re put into a concrete freezing building and not even allowed to wear a coat or a sweater over your t-shirt or dress?

Why is that?