Sunday, March 21, 2010


The new system for a “virtual fence” all along the borders we have with Canada {4000 miles} and Mexico {2000 miles} has just been put on hold. The Government Accounting Office announced last week that it still doesn’t work. This is the second time the prototype on the Mexican border, built and rebuilt by Boeing at billions of dollars, has been judged inadequate.1

We have started constructing the towers for the same type of system along our Northern borders right here in St. Clair County [11 towers planned along the 37 miles of the St. Clair River, to cost $20-30 million]. What didn’t work in the south {see below} was sent to the north to be further tweaked north & south, and to keep the defense contract running for Boeing. The Times Herald announced this on April 2, 2009 with the headline, “Border patrol to get cameras.” The WSJ was more specific the day before, “U.S. Plans ‘Virtual Fence’ to assess Canada Border.”2 {And how to extend a “fence” up the middle of Lake Huron?}

Both papers should have included “April Fools,” in parenthesis. On March 17, 2010 Homeland Security announced funding for the Secure Border Initiative [presumably both north & south] frozen. The GAO says what didn’t work 3 years ago, continues ineffective despite redesigns. With the luck of the Irish, perhaps this wasteful project will never be resurrected.
AP/Arizona Daily Star, David Sanders
A 98-foot 'virtual fence' tower laden with radar, sensors and sophisticated cameras west of Arivaca, Ariz.

TUCSON, Arizona — The government will replace its highly touted "virtual fence" on the Arizona-Mexico border with new towers, radars, cameras and computer software, scrapping the brand-new $20 million system because it doesn't work sufficiently, officials said. The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff officially accepted the completed fence from The Boeing Co. AP story 4-23-08

Tower at St. Clair, MI, installed at north end of their riverfront Palmer Park--Photo by Joe Crowley

The most disheartening aspect of this whole thing is the mentality that it expresses--that we can somehow wall ourselves off from the rest of the world. It is the opposite perspective of that which has made this country great, “Give me your tired, poor, those yearning to be free!” Immigration and not Homeland Securitization is who we are as a people. We come from every country on the planet, and although the journey was often difficult, few of our ancestors scrabbled through fences to enter the USA. They were given varied levels of welcome. Immigrants were needed. They still are. Great are the contributions they make to our society.

Though most of the Mexican American migrant farm workers that move through the Midwest have been more native than any of the majority white population [their people lived in Texas before it existed], their experience has been the same discrimination as that faced by many immigrants.

Much of the activism I’ve been able to muster through my life has been a gift of the migrants of Carrizo Springs, and Crystal City, Texas, towns south of San Antonio, who would come each year to work the fields of St. Clair and Sanilac counties. Working with them for four summers during my college years, blistered my hands and opened my eyes. Initially a church outreach worker, I was invited in to live in their camps, working alongside them and their children in the fields. Blessed by the hospitality, there began in me the real experience of being brothers and sisters all, and a commission to help make the world a more just and peaceful place.

Photo by Larry Towell*

From a letter to the church by the Catholic bishops of Nebraska in 2006 we are given timeless advice:
The Word of God reminds us that we are all strangers and guests in the world. We are all
pilgrims on the way to our lasting home with God. Recall the command which God gives us in the Book of Leviticus:
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger
who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as
yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God (Lv 19:33-34).

They then recommend:
First of all, the Church urges reform of our immigration laws which leave so many in the
shadows of unauthorized immigration and have resulted in the loss of life for many who were
honestly searching for a life with a future and a secure home. The shadows of unauthorized
immigration sadly provide ample place for the exploitation of brothers and sisters in their great need of our help.

It is time and past time for comprehensive just and merciful immigration reform. El pueblo esta marchando una otra vez este fin de semana. The people are marching again this weekend. Let’s support them in whatever way we can. More follows--for study, prayer, action.

Jesus was an immigrant.

March 18, 2010
Dear Michael,
Last week, Pax Christi USA joined the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in calling on the Obama administration to suspend immigration enforcement during the 2010 Census. This weekend, on Sunday, March 21, we'll be joining Pax Christi members and thousands of others from around the nation in the "March for America: Change Takes Courage," hoping to push our leadership toward just and compassionate immigration reform in 2010.
Immigration continues to spark intense debate in the U.S. Since the failure of Congress to enact any immigration reform in 2007, it has become even more urgent to promote and push immigration reform to our representatives in government. We stand at a new moment for immigration - we can advocate for and support a new immigration reform bill while also countering negative stereotypes and categorizations of those who have immigrated to our country.
We invite you to pray for our immigrant brothers and sisters, both those living in our own country and around the world; to reflect on the need for just reform in our immigration system; and to take action to promote and agitate for long-needed reform.

In peace,
Beth Kenyon
Program Associate, Pax Christi USA

RAYER: A Prayer for the Immigrant
(Written and offered by the students of the Latin American Student Association at Azusa Pacific University)

God of Cultures, we pray for the millions of immigrants who are living around the world in countries that may be hostile to "strangers." Teach us to look beyond the borders of the nation and city in which we live.

God of the Poor, we pray that immigrant families and especially children who have restricted access to shelter, food, health care, and education would cease to be marginalized by the systems in which they live and instead be treated with dignity. We pray that they would be provided with covering shelter, nourishing food, sustaining health, and a nurturing education.

For more of this information and what you can do, please contact Beth Kenyon and ask her to send you the complete March 18th
Pax Christi USA - Rapid Response - Immigration reform now!

Link to support effort for Rep. Luis Gutierrez’ bill on immigration reform:

*Child with cucumber baskets. Mennonite German immigrants to Canada to Ontario became family farmer migrants, working the fields of both Canada and Mexico.



Illumination by Kathy Brahney

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