When President Obama said last month he would ask Congress for $500 million and deploy the National Guard to increase security on the border with Mexico, several advocacy groups in the region that had campaigned for a different approach were forced to confront a disappointing reality: Washington still wasn’t listening to them, reports the Washington Post. Despite their high hopes for the Obama administration, it was clear they had made little headway with their message that the government’s ever-increasing emphasis on border enforcement is futile. They decided they needed to rethink their strategies, and fast.
For the first time, civil rights campaigners, community workers and advocacy groups from across the 2,000-mile southwestern border gathered for two days to figure out where they had gone wrong and brainstorm a new battle plan. Last weekend, in a community center in San Diego, the soul-searching began. Members of groups from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California were among 45 delegates at the session. At the top of the agenda was how to counter Obama’s message that further security measures are needed, including 1,000 more border agents and as many as 1,200 National Guard troops. The delegates acknowledged that their goal, comprehensive immigration reform, is unlikely to be taken up by Congress this year. “It was a summit, of sorts,” said Andrea Guerrero of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego. “We had a strategy session for all of us to come together and think about how we can push back on the ideas” coming from Washington.