The Empire’s War on the Border – Full Documentary // Empire_File018/19

“Join Abby Martin as she investigates why there are thousands of bodies on the US Mexico border–and uncovers a hidden war–in this full-length documentary, originally aired as a two-part series.

Discover what is not only a shockingly high body count, but a humanitarian crisis manufactured by the U.S. government. Sinister tactics by a bloated Border Patrol, a for-profit prison pipeline, and a court system that looks more like a slave auction, all surround the senseless death of thousands.

From NAFTA’s impact to hidden camera footage of “Operation Streamline”, learn about this U.S. policy of death, and the humanitarian disaster caused by the U.S. deportation machine.”


This was originally published in the Tucson Weekly.

“Letters to the Future, a national project involving more than 40 alternative weeklies across the United States, set out to find authors, artists, scientists and others willing to get creative and draft letters to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks—and what came after.”

Where I Place My Greatest Hope

To my 35 year-old child,

When you read this it will be 2050. Right now you are seven months in the womb. When I see you now—your heart thumping in colorless ultrasounds—I am mesmerized by your beauty, your innocence, your potential. I know that by the time you read this you will have seen a lot, you will have seen too much.

In 2015, my child, we hear a lot of climate predictions for what the world will be like in 2050; these forecasts are frightening. For example, the common projection for climate refugees—people on the move due to hellacious typhoons or hurricanes, rapid sea level rise, or disastrous droughts—is 200 million. But who would’ve known, as long ago as 2015, that Arizonans would be among the uprooted?

Nobody was expecting the semi-collapse of Phoenix, though the city was, along with Tucson, already in trouble. Both cities were rationing water and battling ever-more tenacious wildfires. When a fierce dust storm knocked out Phoenix’s electricity grid in June of 2040, and the air conditioning didn’t come back on, ever, for many it was the last straw. It wasn’t the first migration out of the city, but it was the largest.

What people weren’t expecting, however, were the Homeland Security checkpoints around U.S. cities and between state borders, or the new laws that only permitted people with certain documents to travel. And, of course, the subsequent arrests, incarcerations, and deportations if those laws were not heeded.

But I write you, my child, before all this happened. I write to you from Paris, in November of 2015. I write to you one week from what many are saying is the most important climate summit in history. I write you in the hopes that I am wrong, because we all know there is a much better world possible and it’s still in our grasp.

It’s critical, I think, for you to understand where I am right now. Two weeks before the climate summit began, coordinated violent attacks across Paris dramatically altered the tone of the negotiations. The French government “cancelled” the marches, which were to be attended by varied international organizations that would put formidable grass roots pressure on participating nations. The government said they couldn’t provide sufficient protection to the organizers, though the best protection for them—and for you, my child as we now see—would have been to embrace that more urgent conversation that demanded a better world.

The impacts of the Paris attacks spanned the globe. In the United States, for example, most politicians barked about military operations and let this critical moment for the climate fall to the wayside. The fires of xenophobia were fanned all the way to the upper-echelons of government, conflagrating all across the media landscape. Witnessing this rapid mobilization of the counterterrorism hawks just seemed to prove that, if that were the impetus, we could move just as forcefully to protect the climate. But, no. A slightly-reformed yet catastrophic “business as usual” strategy carried on; we guaranteed your frightening reality.

For the astute contemporary historians in 2050, they will see that the calls for more border militarization in 2015 had already been happening for some time. The U.S. military and Border Patrol were already preparing for what official documents called “mass migration” due to climate destabilization. That’s why there are all the checkpoints now, on the I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix, entering Phoenix, entering California. I know you don’t like them; we didn’t like them either. As I sit in Paris right now in 2015, your future, I am deeply saddened to say, looks bleak.

But I have a feeling that I am wrong. Maybe I have overestimated the trends of the power structure, and underestimated the strength of the people. Maybe it’s you, my beloved, that gives me hope. Maybe I see in your potential actions, in your imagination, in your creativity, and in your capability the seeds for a much happier world. It is clear that your vibrant generation will be forced to act. It will have to reach across these fortified borders, and refuse to submit to them. It will take this sort of unity. This is where I place my greatest hope.


It was a typical scene for many on the Tohono O’odham Nation: a Border Patrol agent pulled behind us in a green-striped vehicle after we had stopped to check directions. We were a group of five people in two cars. We had no idea what they wanted. Documentary filmmaker Adam Markle was going to interview tribal member Joshua Garcia at the San Miguel border gate, only a mile away. It was October 12, Columbus Day, a fitting date to be on the land of the Tohono O’odham.

The agents were about to give us a taste of what the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona described in extensive detail in a new report. It says that Border Patrol practices along this 2,000-mile border have become “de facto stop and frisk.” It also asserts that this border Native American reservation, which hugs the U.S.-Mexico boundary and is only a fraction of its original land, has become a prototype of a “modern day police state.”

Read the rest here on, where it was originally published.


The GuardBot – a rolling, rubber sphere with surveillance cameras attached like small, domed ears – was first meant to explore Mars. Now, it’s showing off its ability to locate undocumented people on the blue carpet at events such as the Border Security Expo, the United States’ premier border policing conference.

At the primary debate this month, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declared that he would build a wall on the Mexico-US border. However, Homeland Security has already built 700 miles of walls and barriers along the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border over the past couple of decades. Now, the nation’s boundary-builders have gone beyond walls even to the space-age high tech, like the GuardBot. Indeed, the company’s junior engineer Philippe Vibien told Cronkite News that he envisioned 20 or 30 of these rolling balls working in a swarm around the desert borderlands.

In this tech-climate, where US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest federal US law enforcement agency and the burgeoning security industry get in bed with each other, their automated border patrol offspring are surely around the corner. These companies are feeding an increasingly privatized market in an “unprecedented boom period.”

Read the rest at Truthout.