San Antonio is geo-politically located at a crossroads between the Global North and the Global South as well as the US South and Southwest, at a place to bridge diverse, marginalized and historically isolated communities and struggles. Since the construction of the border, US policy has focused on utilizing labor, land and weakly enforced environmental and worker protections to promote primarily the commercial agenda of the government and corporations. Policy in both DC and DF (Districto Federal, Mexico City) has historically marginalized the voices of the border populations. SWU works to expand the education, unity and advocacy capacity of the border region, particularly low-income workers, migrants and women, to elevate the voice of the people not merely the commerce of the border region.
Of recent, the foreign policy of the US focused on the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although NAFTA included labor and environmental standards, there has been little enforcement of existing provisions, and poverty and violence have increased on both sides of the border. The North American Development Bank was assigned to develop infrastructure, clean water and decent living conditions on both sides but have yet to see their resources into these projects. Since NAFTA, border militarization has accelerated and created the most militarized border between ‘friendly’ countries in the world. These triple fences and high-tech surveillance have increased the division between families and the distrust between nations. Proposed guest workers programs also threaten to exacerbate unjust policies and instead the question of migration should be handled in a cooperative fashion the meets the needs of workers on both sides of the border. The US needs responsible engagement in a border policy that develops trustworthiness and acts as a team-player with our neighbor to the south.
- A just border that permits the free movement of people and not just goods and capital
- A border based on equality, trust, solidarity, and friendship
- A border that eliminates racist practices and violent persecution of people who cross the border seeking a just livelihood
- Removal of the failed border enforcement policies like Operation Gatekeeper, Hold the Line, Rio Grande, and Safeguard and moratorium on any new walls.
Connected to the border reality, a primary focus is migrant rights. The Migrantes Unidos Sin Fronteras (United Migrants Without Borders) local of SWU grew out of the 2006 experience fighting the Congress and the Minutemen’s attack on migrants. The local has led several actions at the Texas Senators offices, ICE (Homeland Security), and organized the Day of Action on May 1st with a general stoppage and march. SWU brought local voices to several different national streams working this issue and attempted to bring unity between various factions through attending conferences, conducting tours and organizing marches.
We want a country that respects the rights of All workers:
- NO to criminalizing 12 million undocumented immigrants, or those who aid or protect them
- NO to raids and immigrant round ups
- NO to border fences and walls
- NO to the “guest worker” program
- NO to the militarization of the US- Mexico border
- YES to the reunification of families, and sensitivity to immigrant emergencies
- YES to legalization of immigrants
- YES to full rights for immigrants
- YES to legislation that ensures workplace protections and civil rights for all
SWU educates, empowers and activates community advocates on both sides of the border to promote a spirit of cooperation and respect by the US government and border governance institutions. The intent is to inform and engage frontline communities and workers facing the impacts of the current border reality and create a convergence to advocate for positive change. SWU works to amplify the voice of constituencies along the border looking for a more effective policy that is conducted in an open, inclusive and principled manner.
This cross border alliance fosters convergence among the local communities and offers an alternative constructive vision of this region that respects cultural and family ties that exist rather than merely ‘stopping at the border.’ This connection reinforces the region’s economic, environmental, cultural and historic ties.
If you are interested in participating in a border reality tour, please contact Ruben
- Opposed NAFTA from the beginning. Educated community residents about its impacts
- Hosted I & II Conference of Movements against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), with over 30 grassroots organizations from the US & Mexico.
- Anchor organization in annual Border Action Mobilizations & compiled video documentation
- Organized the Border Social Forum with over 1000 people in Ciudad Juarez
- Attended World Social Forum and the Social Forum of the Americas and organized panels on US-Mexico border issues
- An organizer and trainer at Popular Education Conference in Juarez, Mexico
- Mobilized thousands to the People’s Alternative Summit of the Border Governor’s Conference
- Developed popular-education trainings and skill-building sessions
- Engaged over 70,000 in San Antonio to march for migrant rights
- Educated elected officials about just border and migrant policy