Women on the Border’s original mission 20 years ago was to raise awareness about the sexual and racial discrimination that was affecting mostly working women in the maquiladoras at the Mexico-U.S. border. Human rights activists were reporting that extreme forms of exploitation and violence against women were becoming a standard feature accompanying the intense outsourcing to Mexico by U.S. corporations under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Aspects of NAFTA favored the interests of corporate investors and failed to protect workers. Historic racist attitudes about Mexican workers too often could be linked to the problems complained of by working women — exposure to toxicity, sexual harassment, wage theft and retaliation against workers who fought for reform. The lack of balance between workers and companies in NAFTA allowed the mostly white-owned companies to get away with daily abuse of the Mexican maquiladora workers. Women on the Border sought to support and empower workers facing systematic abuse from government and business elites who profited from them.
In 2017 Women on the Border expanded its mission as our board watched in horror the government’s use of inhumane and unjust immigration policies to target the undocumented, tear apart families, detain and jail asylum seeker migrants and to rip children away from their parents at the border. We were appalled at the national and global escalation of racism and targeted governmental attacks against people of color that has emerged since 2017. It is wholly unacceptable but also sadly nothing new.
We support the Black Lives Matter movement because our mission as a social justice educational organization urges us to voice opposition to the enduring effects of white supremacy in racially biased over-policing of black citizens and their communities. We affirm that the current institutional forms of violence against black citizens and people of color (harassment, cop killings of unarmed suspects, mass incarceration) can find their roots in the legacies of white supremacy and privilege found in the history of the United States and in the first days of European exploration and exploitation of vulnerable populations (native peoples, enslavement of African peoples) in the Western Hemisphere.
Women on the Border stands with the Black Lives Matter activists and educators to develop non-violent forms of policing and criminal justice that are de-linked from institutional and systemic racism against Black and Brown communities. Agencies that are bereft of training on how unconscious racism or implicit bias affect police training and practices should be dismantled, defunded or reformed, including local police departments and ICE. We support efforts to educate the public on the ways in which institutional racism explains why the lives of people in Black and Brown communities too often don’t matter and why there are more chronic diseases, more financial insecurity and more deaths from killer viruses like Covid-19.
The murder of George Floyd and of hundreds of others from brutal over-policing by police, and the protests triggered by these tragic events offers the United States of America an opportunity to right over 400 years of wrongs.
Women on the Border stands with the many voices calling for change now.
REIMAGINE THE BORDER