2018 Izzy Award Ceremony Telecast on Free Speech TV

“The tenth annual Izzy Award was presented April 24, 2018 to four investigative journalists who published path-breaking and in-depth reporting in 2017 that exposed political corruption, environmental hazards and militarism: investigative reporter LEE FANG of The Intercept; Investigative Fund reporting fellow and Intercept journalist SHARON LERNER; Truthout staff reporter DAHR JAMAIL; and TODD MILLER, author of “Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security.”

In accepting their awards at the ceremony in Ithaca College’s Emerson Suites, the honorees spoke about their work, thanking the various independent media organizations that made their work possible. In announcing the award recipients, the Izzy judges commented: “Their breakthrough coverage is made possible by non-corporate outlets such as The Intercept,Truthout andTomDispatch.com, resources such as The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund, and publishers like City Lights Books.”

My interview with Public Radio International “Living on Earth” on climate change, displacement, and borders.

“Author and journalist Todd Miller, who has written a new book called, “Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration and Homeland Security” says climate change is a key factor forcing families to flee from Central America and Mexico — and deadly droughts, hurricanes, floods and mudslides are projected to intensify further in the region as global warming increases, which will hit small farmers especially hard.”

Listen to the interview here.

Militarizing can’t conquer forces driving immigrants

At first, I thought I had inadvertently entered an active war zone. I was on a lonely two-lane road in southern New Mexico heading for El Paso, Texas. Off to the side of the road, hardly concealed behind some desert shrubs, I suddenly noticed what seemed to be a tank. When I stopped to take a picture, a soldier wearing a camouflage helmet emerged from the top of the Stryker, a 19-ton, eight-wheeled combat vehicle that was regularly used in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. With high-tech binoculars, he began to monitor the mountainous desert that stretched toward Mexico, 20 miles away, as if the enemy might appear at any moment.

Read the rest of this commentary as published in the San Francisco Chronicle. It is an adaptation of a previous piece published at TomDispatch.

 

 

The Border Fetish: The U.S. Frontier as a Zone of Profit and Sacrifice

At first, I thought I had inadvertently entered an active war zone. I was on a lonely two-lane road in southern New Mexico heading for El Paso, Texas. Off to the side of the road, hardly concealed behind some desert shrubs, I suddenly noticed what seemed to be a tank. For a second, I thought I might be seeing an apparition. When I stopped to take a picture, a soldier wearing a camouflage helmet emerged from the top of the Stryker, a 19-ton, eight-wheeled combat vehicle that was regularly used in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He looked my way and I offered a pathetic wave. To my relief, he waved back, then settled behind what seemed to be a large surveillance display mounted atop the vehicle. With high-tech binoculars, he began to monitor the mountainous desert that stretched toward Mexico, 20 miles away, as if the enemy might appear at any moment.

That was in 2012 and, though I had already been reporting on the militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border for years, I had never seen anything like it. Barack Obama was still president and it would be another six years before Donald Trump announced with much fanfare that he was essentially going to declare war at the border and send in the National Guard. (“We really haven’t done that before,” Trump told the media on April 3rd, “or certainly not very much before.”)

Read the rest of this piece first published at TomDispatch here.

My Appearance on Democracy Now!: Trump Escalates Already-Deadly U.S. Border Policies, Ordering National Guard to Mexican Border

“A new wave of troops could soon be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, even as border crossings by undocumented immigrants are at their lowest levels since 1971. The move comes as a caravan of Central American migrants and asylum seekers in Mexico has prompted a series of threats from President Trump. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports the Trump administration is requesting that the U.S. military build walls for at least one military base along the U.S.-Mexico border. We go to Tucson, Arizona, for an update from Todd Miller, a border security journalist and author of “Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security.””

Watch/listen right here.

C-SPAN Book TV Panel Appearance

Panel Discussion on Immigration and Race Relations Authors Todd Miller, Sheryll Cashin, and Sasha Polakow-Suransky talked about their respective books dealing with topics that include immigration and race relations: Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security, Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, and Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy.

This event was part of the 2018 Tucson Festival of Books.

The State of What Union?

At the precise moment in his State of the Union address when President Donald Trump was reassuring the U.S. public yet again that he would build a border wall, I arrived at the San Juan Bosco shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico with a group of students from Prescott College. We were about to a face a completely different interpretation of the very same “union.” In the shelter’s chapel, people who had been recently deported, banished from, or repelled by the United States sat on folding metal chairs. After the students introduced themselves a woman sitting towards the front asked, “Why are you here? What benefit does it bring us?”

A long uncomfortable pause followed, partly because I interpreted the question from Spanish to English, and partly because the students had no immediate answer.

“Have you come,” the woman asked interrupting the silence, “to tear down that Berlin Wall?”

Read the rest here as published at NACLA.

 

The rise of walls in a warming world

When I first talked to the three Honduran men in the train yard in the southern Mexican town of Tenosique, I had no idea that they were climate refugees. We were 20 miles from the border with Guatemala at a rail yard where Central American refugees often congregated before the long, dangerous haul to the United States. The Hondurans told me that they had been stuck here for six long days avoiding Mexican immigration agents. Like many other countries across the globe, Mexico, with assistance from Washington, has been fortifying its southern border.

When I asked why they were heading for the United States, one responded simply, “No hubo lluvia.” (“There was no rain.”) In their community, without rain, there had been no crops, no harvest, no food for their families, an increasingly common phenomenon in Central America. In 2015, for instance, 400,000 people living in what has become Honduras’ “dry corridor” planted seeds and waited for rain that never came. As in a number of other places on this planet in this century, what came instead was an extreme drought that stole their livelihoods.

Central America was, in fact, ground zero for climate change in the Americas, University of Arizona climate scientist Chris Castro told me. According to the best forecasting models, a “much greater occurrence of the very dry seasons” lies in the future for the region. The coming climate upheavals, which also include superstorms and sea level rise, are predicted to leave unprecedented numbers of people with no other choice but to move.

And as it stands right now, there isn’t a legal framework for dealing with climate refugees, neither in international law nor the laws of specific countries.

Instead, that moment in Tenosique was a grim glimpse into the future: young, unarmed farmers with failing harvests facing the only welcome this planet presently has to offer such victims of climate change — expensive and expanding border regimes of surveillance, razor-wire walls, agents with guns and incarceration centers.

Read the rest here, as it appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Climate Change, Mass Migration and the Border Militarization to Come

“Record heat waves, droughts, floods, super storms, wildfires ravaging California, and now freezing temperatures consuming the East Coast. The world is waking up to the destructive realities of a changing climate. But while the Trump administration publicly espouses climate science denial, it continues to ramp up the border militarization efforts that began in the 1990s and continued through both Bushes and the Obama administration.

In his 2014 book, “Border Patrol Nation”, author Todd Miller looked at the federal government’s fastest growing paramilitary force and the real-world effects it has on the communities it nominally protects, but more often treats as a territory under military occupation. Miller’s 2017 follow-up, “Storming The Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security”, advances on this theme, illustrating ways that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is actively ramping up for climate change. In typical perverse fashion, in fact, it’s become the new normal in Washington – the exact opposite of a humanitarian response.

Occupy.com reached out to Todd Miller to discuss his latest work.”

Click here for full interview by Jacob Resneck.