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800 MARCH AGAINST BORDER POLICIES
3,000 Have Died Since Operation Gatekeeper Began
2004-11-01

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BY REX WOCKNER

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. — About 800 people marched through the streets of San Diego's southernmost neighborhood in October, protesting 10 years of the Border Patrol's Operation Gatekeeper.

Gatekeeper's dramatically increased fencing and policing have forced undocumented border crossers east into the rugged mountains and deserts of San Diego County where more than 3,000 of them have died since 1994.

They freeze to death in the winter, dehydrate to death in the summer, or are killed in falls.

'Ten years is enough. Enough is enough,' said Belinda Camacona of the Raza Rights Coalition, one of the organizers of the march. 'We're not going to stand by while our brothers and sisters die on the border.'

'We have to bring light to the facts,' said Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee, another organizing group. 'Three thousand men, women and children have died as a result of economic policies between two nations that are economic partners.

'The deadly toll that Mexico and the United States have unleashed on this border is unacceptable by all standards,' Ramirez said. 'We hold both the United States government and the Mexican government responsible for crimes against humanity for the acts of aggression they have committed against migrant populations along this border.'

The U.S., Ramirez said, is 'hypocritical' about undocumented workers while Mexico's crime is one of silence.

'The United States government claims that it does not want anything to do with undocumented migration at the same time it provides the jobs,' he said. 'Without a doubt, the economy of this country is based fundamentally on the labor force of the undocumenteds. The Mexican government has failed to denounce the deaths and the operations that have proved to be ineffective.'

In fact, there are more undocumented Mexican and Central American immigrants in the U.S. today than when Operation Gatekeeper began.

For its part, the U.S. government claims the number would be much higher if it had not placed hundreds of additional agents along the few miles of San Diego's urbanized border and erected a menacing new fence constructed of 14-foot high cement pylons.

The fence cannot be jumped over, bored through or tunneled under.

Gatekeeper also increased the use of 'seismic intrusion devices' buried along the fence (there are more than 11,000 of them) and infrared scopes, which can detect a human in the dark up to three miles away.


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