The business of border security

Where immigrants contribute to the economy.

By: Víctor Ronquillo *

To the north of the city of Tijuana, far away and for the purpose of making a social phenomenon invisible, is the El Barretal migrant shelter. The displaced, the arrivals with the caravans coming from the south, protagonists of an exodus that places into evidence the crisis of the model of border control established in the world with the militarization of borders, cope with their condition as refugees and hope for the impossible, reaching the north and the chimera of the dollar. They are victims of one more expression of the 21st century wars, extended throughout the world, where what is sought is profit, sponsored by arms manufacturers and security contractors.

Behind the discourse of the right’s post-fascism, which blames migrants for the economic crisis, for the absurdities of a world-system that touches bottom, are the beneficiaries of the arms business and the construction of walls. On June 15, 2015, at the launch of his campaign, Donald Trump revealed his plan to install a wall on the border of Mexico with the United States. The anti-immigrant speech continues being one of the axes that articulate an economic and political project that favors the military industrial complex, one of the principal foundations of the US economy after the Second World War.

María José Rodríguez Reja, a professor and researcher at the Autonomous University of Mexico City, explains what war capitalism means in our time on the pages of the book La norteamericanización de la seguridad en América Latina (Ed. Akal, 2017): “Neoliberal war capitalism acquires in US conception and strategy a profoundly violent and daring dimension in which it expresses the worldview that it imposes on others, and on which it tries to legitimize its actions; departing from this it constructs the concept of the enemy and defines the threats to face from a war strategy that is substantially the same as its interests.”

And immigrants are the enemy. Some time ago, the Border Patrol promoted tours to the Sonora/Arizona desert border with the intention of dissuading those who would attempt to go north not to attempt it. While we were touring one of the many routes traveled by migrants, some of the officials in charge of that tour proudly told me: “we have everything under control.” The principal attraction was the technology deployed on the desert trails. The militarization of the border, in addition to the growing deployment of surveillance troops, includes a technological network that extends through strategic points in the more than three thousand kilometers that divide not only Mexico and the United States, but also the north and the south of this world of inequality and savage capitalism.

The border security business is booming and has had an impressive growth since September 11, 2011. One of the companies that benefit from this business is Lockheed Martin, a powerful reference in the aerospace field; one of its products is the Lockheed Martin 74 K Aerostat, an enormous drone shaped like a zeppelin. On that trip to demonstrate the technological resources available to the Border Patrol, there was a stellar moment so that a group of journalists coming from different regions of America would be impressed with the images captured by this gigantic drone. The border security budget has been increasing within the United States Defense Budget. In the pages of the book Border Patrol Nation: dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security (City Lights Open Media, 2014) the journalist Todd Miller asserts: “Security technology has been expanding for 25 years (…) this is only the beginning, the projection is that this will increase after the arrival of Donald Trump.”

The war business brings enormous profits for arms manufacturers and on many occasions also for the sophisticated instruments for control of the borders. The political influence of these consortia is determinative.

According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Institute, the global market for arms is at 100 billion dollars. US companies with their decisive political influence are the leaders in that business. The consortia producing arms for war and the technology for security and border control concentrate 34 percent of that juicy global market.

Since the 1980s, when the process of militarizing the border with Operation Guardian began, on the Tijuana-San Diego border, war technology is used in border security. The Lockheed Martin 74K Aerostat drones, vigilantes of the border skies, are an adaptation of the drones that NATO used in the Iraq War.

One of today’s many wars is fought on the borders with its militarization and control, a war that for some represents a good business.

*Journalist and writer


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, January 11, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




One Comment on “The business of border security

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