Dec 2, 2021 • 32M

The Most Beautiful Place in the World: An Audio Interview with Isabel Garcia about What the Border Could Be

Southern Arizona’s legendary human rights champion rates the Biden administration’s first year at the border and suggests the time has come for a “quiet revolution.”

Todd Miller
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The Border Chronicle podcast is hosted by Melissa del Bosque and Todd Miller. Based in Tucson, Arizona, longtime journalists Melissa and Todd speak with fascinating fronterizos, community leaders, activists, artists and more at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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The Most Beautiful Place in the World: An Audio Interview with Isabel Garcia about What the Border Could Be

Southern Arizona’s legendary human rights champion rates the Biden administration’s first year at the border and suggests the time has come for a “quiet revolution.”

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With 2021 coming to a close, and one year of the Joe Biden administration under our belt, I thought there would be no better person to assess what has happened (and offer a way forward) than Isabel Garcia, the cofounder of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, based in Tucson, Arizona, a grassroots organization that has fought the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border—and promoted human and civil rights—since 1993. Isabel herself has been on the front lines of border struggles and immigrant rights since 1976, in the streets, at the border, in the courts (now retired, she was a legal defender for decades), and in the offices of policy makers.

In the interview, Isabel discusses the continuation of border militarization under Biden (including the Covid-era Title 42), the court case of a Tohono O’odham woman who blockaded the border-wall-constructing bulldozers with her body, the bipartisan nature of border fortification and the Democrats’ historic role, and activists’ decades-long attempts to stop it.

“Since 1976 we have been fighting for immigration rights,” she says. “I was a young woman. And we have fought within the Democratic Party. And we have fought the Democratic Party over and over and over again on the militarization of this border. Every single bill that comes along … it doesn’t matter what decade, it has been presented as a compromise, compromising what? Obviously compromising the border.”

Isabel says that if people understood the history of labor, immigration, and the border, the conversations today informing policy discussions would be much different. She suggests three major policy issues to tackle: U.S. foreign policy behind displacement, legalizing all noncitizens, and demilitarizing the border.

What stands out most is Isabel’s vision that in the borderlands—if we got rid of all the guns, gates, and guards—we could create one of the “most beautiful places in the world.” To do that, she suggests, there needs to be a “quiet revolution.”

We hope that Isabel’s words will inspire you to join our discussion for subscribers on Thursday, December 9, starting at 11 a.m. MT (10 PT/12 CT/1 ET). Isabel’s interview fits right in with a series of pieces we have done over the last few weeks that consider alternatives such as open and no borders, as well as demilitarization—which will be the general topic of the discussion. I will start it by posing a question that will arrive, I believe, directly into your inbox. From there I will moderate an approximately two hour discussion. You can jump in at any time! We know that in our readership there is a deep bed of knowledge, and we are excited to have this and many more good-faith conversations with you.

In this discussion, we will also be joined by the author of White Borders Reece Jones, former Border Patrol agent turned rights advocate and border activist Jenn Budd, and journalist John Washington who is currently at work on a book about open borders. Since this is the first one, it will be free, but future discussions will be for paying subscribers only.

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