The militarization of the border

Todd Miller, a journalist who has reported on the Mexico-US border for 15 years, wrote a stunning piece for the NY Times last year called “War on the Border.”  Here is an excerpt from that piece:

“In 2012, the Migration Policy Institute reported that immigration and border enforcement spending totaled almost $18 billion. That is 24 percent more than the $14.4 billion combined budgets in the last fiscal year of the F.B.I., the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Add the billions anticipated in the Senate bill, and you have what the trade publication Homeland Security Today calls a “treasure trove” for contractors in the border security industry.

Projected as an approximately $19 billion industry in 2013, defense contractors seem, in the words of one representative from a small surveillance technology company hoping to jump into the border security market, to be “bringing the battlefield to the border.”

In 1999, the anthropologist Josiah Heyman wrote that the Southwest was becoming a “militarized border society, where more and more people either work for the watchers, or are watched by the state.”

There is nowhere else in the country with such extensive and concentrated surveillance technology; nor is there any part of the United States in which people are as clearly divided between the police and the policed.”

I learned from that article that Mr. Miller was expanding on this theme with a new book called Border Patrol Nation. I pre-ordered mine about 9 months ago and it just showed up yesterday.  Here is the official description:

“Traveling the country—and beyond—to speak with the people most involved with and impacted by the Border Patrol, Todd Miller combines these first-hand encounters with careful research to expose a vast and booming industry for high-end technology, weapons, surveillance, and prisons. While politicians and corporations reap substantial profits, the experiences of millions of men, women, and children point to staggering humanitarian consequences. Border Patrol Nation shows us in stark relief how the entire country has become a militarized border zone, with consequences that affect us all.”

The book jumped the queue and is now at the top of my “to-read” pile.

 

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