Seeking Border Justice


This website section is intended to serve as a tool to advocate against further militarization of the country's borders. It is a part of NNIRR's initiative, Just Borders.

NNIRR has initiated Just Borders to advocate for the human rights, safety and dignity of all migrants and refugees by:

  • Exposing human rights abuses & the rise in migrant deaths
  • Calling for an end to racial profiling and violations of rights and due process
  • Pushing for demilitarization of the border
  • Ensuring community voices are present in policy affecting the region
  • Advocating for international migrants' rights and rights for all at borders

As a national organization for migrant rights, NNIRR lifts up the experiences, struggles and organizing efforts of local members with a particular emphasis on communities at the US-Mexico border, a region often invisibilized in the greater immigrant rights movement and in national advocacy reform efforts for migrant rights.

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2020 -- The Border & the impacts of COVID-19 --

Safety and health access are human rights and governments must take responsibility for protecting ALL in this moment of crisis.

NNIRR has responded to this crisis by bringing together dozens of civil society partners on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to press mayors and governors to provide safeguards for migrants and asylum seekers who are especially at risk of a major outbreak of COVID-19. We have co-authored a binational letter with over 100 sign-ons demanding local border governments safely decongest encampments, release families from immigration detention and remove border patrol checkpoints on roads leading to hospitals.


Organizations can read the letter and partner with us by signing-on

Puede revisar la carta aquí y agregar el apoyo de su organización llenando este formulario. 

The deadline is open and the list is growing for this important call for human rights protections.


The United States government’s decision to close the border for non-essential transit with the aim of reducing the spread of COVID-19, added tremendous pressure for people in migration, community organizations, and the migrant rights agenda. Border closures have severely restricted the right to seek and receive asylum, and the principle of “non-refoulement.” On the Mexico-United States border we have experienced increased expulsions and repatriations of migrants that has led to the exponential growth of the humanitarian crisis on the Mexican side of the border. Shelters were already at capacity prior to COVID-19, and as a result, migrants have had to resort to outdoor encampments, facing deadly overcrowded conditions. On the U.S. side of the border, human rights and humanitarian groups have also raised the alarm by similar overcrowded and dangerous conditions inside detention centers where men, women, and children, most of them detained for immigration violations, are sent to a vast network of 200 jails and detention centers under dangerous, and abusive conditions that have been the source of COVID outbreaks. 

From the onset of the pandemic, NNIRR mobilized and built a coalition asking governments to release migrants, children, and high-risk populations to their families and sponsors, but broader coalition-building, grassroots organizing and mobilizing are needed to impact the perverse policy pursuits of this Administration. Grassroots organizations and migrant-led organizations need more funding and capacity to organize effectively to impact immigration policy priorities and defend crucial institutions such as “the right to asylum” and make permanent temporary policy protections such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and DACA. Additionally, regardless of which administration wins the elections, border communities will continue to be negatively impacted by the immigration-securitization nexus, and community organizations and leaders will have to continue addressing the compounded conditions of poverty, unemployment, lack of medical infrastructure, crisis of mobility, food security and border patrol impunity. These humanitarian crises have put pressure on NNIRR and grassroots organizations to be first responders, identifying food, medical support, safe haven and housing options as well as advocates for short-term and longer-term policy. NNIRR is also providing tactical support to grassroots leaders in El Paso organizing for the release of migrants from detention centers. Our priority is to expand our organizing capacity, virtually and on the ground, to bring together communities of practice to exchange models, weave solidarity, articulate responses to COVID-19, and create common agendas for protecting the human rights of migrants, particularly during these urgent times.


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UPDATE: February 2019  -- Trump's Border Wall -- 

After Congress refused to allocate The funds Trump requested for new border wall construction, he declared a National Emergency on the southern border. A number of lawsuits are expected and a resolution of disapproval is being considered in the House. Click here to read the declaration.

NNIRR organized a national sign on letter to Congressional leaders opposing increased funding for immigration enforcement and the wall. Read the letter here.

UPDATE: December 2018

At year's end, the Trump Administration is holding up approval of the national budget with its demand for funding of the "border wall". The federal government will remain on official "shutdown" while Trump continues funding to fulfill his campaign promise for a wall.

In the meantime, immigration policy under the Trump Administration has expanded a "virtual wall" of deterrence, shown here in this interactive feature from the Associated Press: Trump's Virtual Wall

UPDATE: November 2018

Over 200 organizations call on Congress to reject a funding deal that will produce more militarization and wall building on the U.S. -Mexico border. Read the letter here.

UPDATE: April 2018 -- No National Guard at the Border --

NNIRR sent a brief letter, co-signed by some 200 individuals, to the White House and to the governors of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, opposing the President's call to deploy National Guard troops on the border. Some 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard members are expected to be deployed to provide support to border patrol agents, who will be freed up to do direct immigration enforcement. California governor Jerry Brown opposed sending troops for immigration enforcement aims.

Read the April 2018 NNIRR letter opposing the National Guard on the border.

Read the article, Sending Troops to the Border Will Cause More Migrant Deaths, by Debbie Weingarten.

Just one year ago, 80 organizations and congregations urged members of Congress to oppose any efforts to build a wall or other barrier across the U.S.-Mexico border in a letter you can read here

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The borders of the United States have been witnessing unprecedented militarization in recent years, building on about two decades of punitive border policies. This trend is inextricably tied to the rights of immigrants and refugees, who have been increasingly criminalized and abused as border security has intensified.

 via Wikimedia Commons 


NNIRR's Board took a road trip to the South Texas Border to meet with local human rights groups and speak with migrants in detention. Read the Board's reflections on their trip here.

Rather than deterring migration into the U.S., intensification of border security has transformed American borderlands into warzones of permanent vigilance, deaths and human rights violations. During times when immigration reform is being nationally discussed, negotiated, and postponed, the idea of increasing border security seems to go unquestioned and unchallenged. Meanwhile, immigrants and refugees pay the price.

Although such occurrences are happening in all ports of entry into the United States (ACLU has reported that in fact all U.S. borders have become post-constitutional zones), we will focus on the curently most politicized and contested one: the U.S.-Mexico border. The following sections break down key aspects of the border:


Mainstream media and politicians coat discussions about immigration with the idea of a "border crisis." This conflated image immediately makes the militarization of border logical and reasonable, the border becoming a 'problem' that must be 'fixed.' But it also overlooks the history and reality of the frontier. Although brief, this section can give you a quick background to better understand the "border crisis:"


To be sure, border militarization is not new. It dates back to the early 20th century, if not earlier, and has been creeping upwards since the latest U.S.-Mexico borders were established. However, the recent tremendous spike in this trend is historically unprecedented 


This section examines the “Immigration Industrial Complex” and how corporate interests interconnect with border enforcement policies. Increasing “alliances” between private and public agents has further generated border militarization and the violation of human rights in the name of profit. Here we discuss for-profit detention centers, defense contractors, the construction of a border tech realm and corporate lobbying.


As militarization reaches new heights at the U.S.-Mexico border, migrant deaths have surged. Check out this section to learn more about this controversial site in which the basic human right to life is violated. 


The Border Enforcement Accountability section reviews the role of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the border. To learn more about CBP's tactics and use of excessive force both at the border and within detention proceedings, click on the link above. 


Given the current political situation, however, we have also dedicated a much-needed criticial space to the recent child refugee crisis in the United States, which is directly connected to the militarization of the border. Here you will find useful background information, data, resources and updated coverage of this extremely politicized refugee crisis. 


This section provides very helpful resources and guides to understanding why the recogniton of human rights at borders is so fundamental. NNIRR has been involved in international collaboration for decades in order to adress the rights of migrants at borders. Check out the section by clicking the title above. 

See UN Report on Recommended Principles for Human Rights at International Borders.


We have also compiled a list of groups currently working around the topic of border militarizaton. Although they each have a specific focus and strategy, all of work to transform the border and attain justice. 


ACLU has produced a question and answer style guide to your rights in the border zone.


NNIRR News: 

  • NNIRR facebook live evento en español con Bloque Latinoamericano sobre el impacto de COVID-19 en Latino America y la migración y las fonteras: La migración en América COVID-19"

Coming Soon:

  • Advocacy Opportunities and Tools