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Man Beaten to Coma by Border Patrol, Wife Stops Deportation

And Congress wants $6.5 billion for border "security."

Photo Credit: Democracy Now!


The following is a transcript originally published in  Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As the immigration reform bill makes its way through the mark-up process in the House and Senate, we turn now to the growing push to add harsher border security measures in order for the bill to pass. This week a key member of the so-called bipartisan Gang of Eight working on the bill, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, said he himself may vote against the bill unless it includes an amendment that calls for full control of the border and 90 percent apprehension of illegal border crossings before immigrants can apply for legal status. The amendment would also require what it calls "situational awareness" of each one-mile segment of the southern border.

For more, we turn to two people working to introduce measures that protect human rights and civil liberties and to the bill, as well. Andrea Guerrero is the co-chair of Southern Border Communities Coalition and executive director of Alliance San Diego. Joining her is Shena Gutierrez, volunteer with Southern [Border Communities] Coalition. She has a very personal experience related to the border: her husband nearly killed in an encounter with Border Patrol agents. While still unconscious in the hospital, he was threatened with deportation. Andrea and Shena live in California but join us from Washington, D.C., where they’ve been meeting with members of Congress.

Let’s go to Andrea Guerrero. If you can talk for a moment about what the so-called Gang of Eight immigration reform bill is and what you are calling for?

ANDREA GUERRERO: Certainly, Amy. The Gang of Eight in the Senate introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a Title I that is all about border enforcement. Overall, we think that the bill is, on balance, a good bill. We think that the Title I that treats—deals with border enforcement is, overall, a good title. And we have been working to improve that title. In the mark-up process, we were able to advance some significant amendments that improve the quality of life in the border region, protect the civil liberties of those living in the border region. We are concerned that the rhetoric around the border continues to dominate the conversation around immigration reform. And many who speak of the border have never been to the border or don’t know anyone from the border. So we are here in Washington, D.C., to carry a message of what the border is like. It’s not a barren wasteland. There are 15 million people living in the border region. We have lives. We have businesses. We have families. And we want to make sure that Border Patrol, which has become the largest law enforcement agency in the country concentrated in the border region, is respecting our civil liberties, our civil rights and those of those who are crossing into the country.

AMY GOODMAN: Shena Gutierrez, can you tell us what happened to your husband?

SHENA GUTIERREZ: Sure. Two years ago, March 30th—he was deported to Mexico March 21st. And, you know, he was desperate. You know, we have two young children. At the time, our son was two and a half; our daughter was only four months old. And our daughter was in the hospital. And he was deported, and he was just trying to figure out how to get back to us. March 30th, he attempted to cross back, and I lost contact with him that day. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday go by. By Saturday, I’m completely going insane, not knowing what happened, where he’s at, if he’s alive, if he’s OK. I mean, it just wasn’t like him to not call me and let me know what was going on.