Statement From TORNILLO: THE OCCUPATION on the Action at the National Border Patrol Museum

Feb 22, 2019
9:57 AM

The following media release was shared with Latino Rebels on Thursday by Tornillo: The Occupation:

The action at the Border Patrol Museum was a collaboration between local El Paso residents and activists from around the country. Recognizing the interlocking nature of all our struggles, we staged an intervention to uplift and remember both the experiences of migrant families and the many lives that have been lost. Since its inception in 1924 the United States Border Patrol has expanded a colonial system that inflicts violence and death along the U.S.-Mexico border.

We believe that the Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be held accountable for their human rights violations. We believe all migrants deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We assert the only crisis on the border is the experiences of  vulnerable migrant and undocumented populations bearing the weight of U.S. immigration and foreign policy and Indigenous peoples who have been terrorized and harassed by Customs and Border Patrol on Tribal lands. We stand behind all migrant indigenous families exercising their ancestral claim to migration in the Americas.

We took action because the museum and spaces like it exhibit a one-sided perspective of what is happening on the border. Nowhere in the museum would you find the problematic reality of the Border Patrol and its history of oppressive treatment towards indigenous peoples of this land, asylum seekers, and migrants. Our presence in the space was to center the voices that were missing from this memorial and the human rights violations inflicted upon them: Jakelin Caal Maquín, Felipe Gómez Alonzo, Claudia Patricia Gómez González, and the more than 100 others who have died as consequences of Border Patrol violence. They died because the action of Border Patrol. They deserve to be remembered in Border Patrol spaces.

We are in a crisis of the consciousness of this country. A path towards reconciliation cannot begin unless institutions responsible for telling this country’s story take that responsibility seriously and tell its whole truth. We must, as we have historically, fight for the sanctity of black and brown lives. It is irresponsible for any institution to claim to be apolitical while erasing the entire history of a people and using politically charged words, like “illegal alien” in their exhibits.

We recognize that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. Therefore, we will continue to resist state-sanctioned violence that places the lives and memories of law enforcement above those who have died as a result of systems of oppression, whether it be at the U.S. Borders, in Palestine, or in the streets of Ferguson, El Paso, Albuquerque/Tiwa Territory, or Tucson.

No one is free until we all are free.