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By Christine Boswell

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked for an additional $300 million in border security and “five hundred extra ‘troopers’ along the Border,” according to an articlewritten in the Austin American Statesman.  He also equates corruption in South Texas to "…third world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroy Texans' trust and confidence in government"   Abbott goes on to say, "We must do more to protect our border going beyond sporadic surges.  I'll add more boots on the ground, more assets in the air and on the water, and deploy more technology and tools for added surveillance" (Burnt Orange Report). Here is my concern: Abbott’s war-cry rhetoric for more militarization along the border, or what is now referred to as “Low Intensity Conflict (LIC)” status, will exacerbate the dangers immigrant women already face along our Texas border, particularly in South Texas.

     First, let me explain what “Low Intensity Conflict” means and how it affects collective thinking. Developed during the Reagan Administration, and rooted in “counterinsurgency” term after the Cuban Revolution, the doctrine of the “LIC” was created to “Employ force in a global crusade against Third World revolutionary movements and governments.” (Klare and Kornbluh, Low Intensity Warfare: The New Interventionism).  According to sociologist, Timothy Dunn, this meant that the United States could use “subtle forms of militarization” to invade Third World counties, such as Central American countries in order to fight against their guerilla forces and “targeted civilian populations” in an attempt to prevent, what the doctrine states, as some form of Soviet-style, creeping communism or revolutions deemed harmful to the United States. However, this concept of fighting Third World regimes is creeping into the minds of our Texas leaders, especially when it is their own state they are defending against.  Dunn draws similarities between the “wars” fought in other countries, to the supposed “war” along the border.  
     Domestically, it started with the “War on Drugs” which morphed to the “War on Terror,” only to marry and produce a “war” along the U.S. Mexico Border against, what the GOP believes, are ‘insurgent’ immigrants. Some say the practice is already here especially since the INS (renamed “US Citizenship and Immigration Services”) has been classified, first under the Department of Justice from the Department of Labor, in 1940, to the Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.  According to a 2006 article, “What the War on Terror Has Done to Texas,”

In 1986, President Reagan issued a directive designating illegal drug traffic as a threat to U.S. "national security," which permitted the Department of Defense to enter a range of "anti-drug" activity, including on the border. Even before that, in 1981 Congress passed amendments that diluted the strength of the 100-year-old Posse Comitatus Act, which had strictly prohibited deputizing military to carry out domestic law enforcement. The Pentagon's Center for the Study of Low Intensity Conflict helped design the Border Patrol's "Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond," devoted almost entirely to immigration control.
Also, in the 1990’s, the definition of “national security” was extended to include, “domestic political concerns and perceived threats to culture, social stability, environmental degradation, and population growth” (Falcón, INCITE!).

     According to political scientist and researcher, Tony Payan:

In a new study, The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security, Payan suggests that the "real failure" of 9/11 was the lack of intelligence coordination to detect and apprehend potential terrorists entering anywhere. Mexican border security became a special focus, with law enforcement redefined as a matter of national security. The focus carries hostility not only to crossers but those who live in the area, "an escalation that has not paid off" because workers and drugs are coming at the same rate as five years ago. What has changed toward undocumented workers since 9/11, as Payan puts it, is "the perception of intentionality," that "this is not someone coming to take a job, but someone who will harm America."( )

Dr. Jamal Assad, of MPAC, the Houston Chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, also had concerns:

This is a little bit scary here. If this act [is] adopted completely by INS the problem is going to be another military institute. What I mean by that is, if somebody for example violated his or her visa one or two days, instead of deporting him, they are going to handcuff him or her and put them in jail maybe one or two or three years under the so-called secret evidence and he or she may be completely innocent just because of visa violation. Leave the criminal behavior for the FBI, for the military, for the CIA and leave INS alone. (
This means that Congress strengthened future militarization of the border, based on the “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” (post 9/11), which evolved into the mindset that the enemy is the Mexican immigrant.
     So now we get to the issue here: what does this mean for documented and undocumented women from Mexico trying to come to the United States? Especially, now, since they are viewed as criminals simply for coming into the country?  Sylvanna Falcón has researched this topic. In her essay titled, “National Security and the Violation of Women.” A “weapon of war” used against women is rape. The tactic is meant to “dominate women and psychologically debilitate people viewed as the enemy.”  More specifically, the term is “national security rape” or “militarized border rape” (Falcón, INCITE!). Because of their illegal status, perceived or real, they are assaulted due to their lack of being recognized by the state as a person who belongs here. They are viewed as a security risk and a criminal and therefore, the male mentality shifts to forms of subduing, controlling and punishing this “enemy.”
     Acts of sexual violence have been occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border since colonialism imposed itself there in 1848.  This is a human rights violation that has continued since. As if it was not horrific enough undocumented women deal with the inevitable situation of rape so much they use birth control before their journey. Or that they are raped as a price for passage and the evidence of the crime is left behind in the form of “rape trees.” Now they face an even greater danger of being assaulted on “this side” of the border, thanks to Abbott’s idea that South Texas is somehow a war-torn, “third-world country” because of one case of corruption (I guess Governor Christie’s New Jersey should be invaded with nuclear weapons, according to his logic).  It is a real phenomenon. Women are already reporting being victimized, but reports are rare due to the “code of silence” amongst the perpetrators who commit these acts. Because of the code of silence culture, where men seldom report on other men for crimes they commit, rapes continue. Women from Mexico are primary targets on the U.S. side because they have the most to lose: their papers, their job from which they send money home, the fear of being deported and the lack of reporting the crime for fear of the charges not holding up. “The nonexistence of a standardized complaints form and appeals process are systematic and structural shortcomings that allow the INS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) to minimize the situation at the border” (Falcón, INCITE!).  This means women haven’t anyone to turn to when this happens to them.  “Dr. Falcón explains one possible reason this systematic abuse of women has gone unchecked for so long, ‘Our society takes rape seriously, but it doesn’t take this type of rape seriously. In all of our national discourse around securing our borders, rarely, if ever, do you hear about any kind of protection for people who might be crossing. Largely, that’s because the discussion has been framed around protecting us—protecting the U.S.—and once you get into that framework, what happens to the other person is not even on the radar.’” ( They are left, in what I can only surmise as, in shambles, broken, with no help. And now with the lack of much needed women’s abortion healthcare gone along the Texas border, where are these women to go when they turn up pregnant?  Or who is going to pay for essential birth control in order to prevent pregnancy?
     In every instance where war and conquest have taken place, it has been the women who pay the “rape-price” during these conflicts.  With Abbot using dog-whistle verbiage like “boots on the ground” and “surges” relating to the border, mixed in with the key LIC “third world” phrase, imagination is not something that I am running wild with when I say his intentions are clear: to more heavily militarize southern Texas as if it were enemy territory. This militarization of the border is specific to the U.S-Mexico line (as I do not see major militarization effort cluttered along the U.S. border to stop people from Toronto invading New York, using Lake Ontario). The problem with his comments is the hurt it represents and triggers for members of the border community and those familiar with these ongoing struggles. The rhetoric perpetuates the idea that the war isn’t to protect but to harm. Mexican immigrant women are the silent victims in this battle of words and it is imperative that it stop.


Works Cited:
Falcon, S. (2006). National security and the violation of women: Militarized border rape at the U.S. Mexico border. In The color of violence: INCITE! anthology (pp. 119-129). Cambridge, MA: South End Press.
(All other works cited in the essay or with hyperlinks)
Christine Boswell is a native of South Texas and is Double-Majoring in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies and Political Science from Oregon State University

Originally posted to Christine Boswell on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 01:01 PM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans, Houston Area Kossacks, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, This Week in the War on Women, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks and welcome, cboswell. (8+ / 0-)

    A horrific subject that needs to have light shined on it.

    Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

    Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

    by belinda ridgewood on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 04:33:59 PM PST

  •  By keeping Mexico poor and reliant on illegal (8+ / 0-)

    Trade, the US encourages the situation as it is.   This is the part that no one wants to discuss.   If the Mexican economy and government were more stable, the people would be less interested in fleeing their country.

    That's just a fact.   Very few things have done as much damage to Mexico as the US war on drugs, and the US Trade & Manufacturing policy.

    While rules are in place to supposedly prevent bad practices (Foreign Corruption Act, FCPA) but they do little in reality:

    A company like walmart Can Admit to Millions in bribes, pay millions in fees, but it is drops in the bucket compared to longterm profit of these transactions.

    Meanwhile, the original corrupt practices of bribing government officials or paying into illegal franchises (basically the equivalent of the mob) continues to make life for the average citizen in Mexico worse.  

    So, where do you go?  If you're in Mexico, most of Mexico, you flee to the United States.

    Solving the issue with immigration isn't about declaring 'war' on anyone, especially the poor.   The solution has to be part about improving our neighbor to the south, which would be good for our overall national security, and it has to be about changing business practices - everything from payoffs to large amounts of money going into the Mexican drug trade - in order to provide people from Mexico more choice.

    Doing so makes sense.  It's cheaper then declaring war, and in the long term, it creates a valuable trading partner for the US.   Mexico has natural resources.  As long as we behave the way we are, we will continue to sink our neighbor to the south over petty politics and gain very little as a result

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 09:15:48 PM PST

  •  Why was Aljzeera the only place I could find this? (11+ / 0-)

    Texas suspends first doctor under new abortion law
    The new law has led to the closure of nearly one-third of Texas' abortion clinics

    Texas has suspended a Houston doctor's license for performing abortions without getting privileges to admit patients to a nearby hospital, the first such move under a new state abortion law that went into effect last year.

    The Texas Medical Board said on Friday that physician Theodore Herring performed 268 abortions between Nov. 6 and Feb. 7 without the right to admit patients to an authorized hospital within 30 miles of where the procedures took place.

  •  I just watched a documentary on the Texas... (9+ / 0-)

    ...School Book Board, The Revisionaires.

    The Texas war on women is part of the same "biblical" view of the world that leads them to teach creationism as science and re-write American history.

    What we are talking about is an ideological war.  I truly hope that enough Texans step up to the plate but it seems like a very difficult situation.  These totalitarian Christians will not stop ever.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 10:41:01 PM PST

  •  this is really offensive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, radarlady, UberFubarius
      In every instance where war and conquest have taken place, it has been the women who pay the “rape-price” during these conflicts.
    it's offensive because in every instance where war and conquest have taken place women only pay the "rape-price" only after (near) all the men have been out-right killed.

    it also completely ignores the fact that the rape of men is used by militants in africa as a tool of war.

  •  Texas... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, Arianna Editrix

    where sexual inadequacy, belief in a corrupted version of Biblical teaching, fear of 'others', small wee-wee complexes and childlike 'cowboy' fantasies are perfectly valid reasons to become involved in GOP politics and work — furiously — to lower the bar to a more accommodating and reassuring level.

    If you're unequipped to achieve enlightenment, outlaw it!

    Delusional knuckledraggers have a right to be comfortable, too.

  •  The Wind is Blowing Against Easing Entry Into USA. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JJ In Illinois

    Tightening the border is a concern for both parties. You're sailing against the wind on this notion that border states will be less restrictive on security in wake of terrorist threats.

    “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Richard Nixon, 1977.

    by Kvetchnrelease on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:08:40 AM PST

  •  First, let's talk about TEXAS, not ARIZONA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and let's debunk some of the claims in this diary with facts, shall we?

    That "rape trees" article? Full Citation:

    BY MARIELA ROSARIO • MARCH 11, 2009 • 4:00PM

    From beheading to kidnappings, there seems to be no limit to what the Mexican drug cartels are willing to do to assert their dominance—and they deal not only in drugs, but also in humans. The majority of the coyotes who help undocumented immigrants cross the border are affiliated with the cartels.

    Although many politicians would like to believe that the violence will stay to the south of the border, the reality is that it has already begun to affect South Western states. The revelation that Phoenix is now the "kidnapping capital" of the United States only affirms what many residents already believe.

    Now, a new method of marking territory has crossed over into the United States. "Rape trees" are popping up in Southern Arizona and their significance is horrific. These "rape trees" are places where cartel members and coyotes rape female border crossers and hang their clothes, specifically undergarments, to mark their conquest.

    Sen. Jonathan Paton (R-Tucson), recently invited officials to describe the problems being faced in his home state to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Paton said violence along the border has escalated dramatically in the past year, "We want to go after these crimes," he insisted, "It’s an unbelievable situation, and we can’t allow that to go on in this country."

    Read more:
    Follow us: @latina on Twitter | latinamagazine on Facebook

    But note where this took place and when: 2009, around Tucson. Yes, Texas is a big state; but the Western edge is El Paso, several hours' drive east of Tucson.

    A Houston Chronicle article contemporary with the incident has further details:

    Immigrant women are told by many Latin American agencies about the danger. In some Central American communities, they’re advised to take oral contraceptives to prepare for the possibility of rape, to dress like men during the journey. The women are told they could be abused by the coyotes (guides) who take them across the Rio Grande, or by the border bandits who wait along the river, ready to pounce. They’re told that sometimes the threat comes from men in uniform. In at least two cases in the 1990s, U.S. Border Patrol agents were charged with sexually abusing female immigrants along the border.

    “The message that these women hear is that abuse will happen. Not that it might, but that it will,” says Montserrat Caballero, the program director of Su Voz Vale at the Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault. “For a lot of ladies, they’re resigned to this inevitability … and for some of them, sexual abuse isn’t just a one-time incident. It happens several times before they arrive in the U.S.”

    and there is a follow-on at the site as well:

    BY MARIELA ROSARIO • MARCH 17, 2009 • 2:15PM

    Read more:
    Follow us: @latina on Twitter | latinamagazine on Facebook

    BUT that article's link to a contention that the US Border Patrol is guilty of the rapes? Goes only to a search engine.

    I live in Texas too. The GOP is bad enough here. Don't pile on the doings of smugglers and cartel enforcers, or Federal officers and their policies toward rape victims in ICE custody, to make it look worse than it is.

    This article from The Texas Observer makes my point:
    Access Denied
    Countless women are sexually assaulted as they attempt to immigrate into the United States. What happens to their reproductive rights when they wind up in U.S. custody?
    by Kevin Sieff Published on Friday, February 20, 2009, at 12:00 CST

    Note that Sieff's article predates both the others the diarist cites. So how is it that this could be considered NEW, or the exclusive property of the Texas GOP?

    The war on women, sadly, is much wider and deeper than we think -- but the Texas GOP is not leading it alone. If you think I'm defending them, I'm not. But we can't fight them without being truthful and accurate in our arguments.

    Otherwise we are no different than they.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:46:09 AM PST

    •  You debunked nothing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Things Come Undone

      First, to your point about rape trees, they do occur all over the border. My point was to describe what they were. My article did not specify a state because I felt that, although, I was using the article for Arizona, it was, again for a definition, rather than a specific site. However, if you insist on a link in order to "debunk" what you think isn't happening in texas: (2013)

      In terms of your second point, about the birth control, if you had read my article than the link is worthy as I was speaking of militarized rape.

      As far as being a Texan, I cannot verify or deny this claim of yours. I will say that I come out of South Texas and the border and it IS real. I would think you would understand this if you lived there.

      The fact that you would question the article and its validity, particularly where experts are cited is something only you can answer for yourself.

      However, what I did get from your "argument" is nothing more than shameless, jealous promotion of your website, and using me as some sort of platform for doing so.  We call this "Horizontal hostility" in feminism.

      Yo soy latina tambien y conozco la frontera muy bien. If you have a valid question, then lets debate, appropriately, without judgmental accusations.

      •  Reclamación interesante usted hace, señorita (0+ / 0-)

        First, it's not my website.

        Second, you cite it in your diary.

        As if it was not horrific enough undocumented women deal with the inevitable situation of rape so much they use birth control before their journey. Or that they are raped as a price for passage and the evidence of the crime is left behind in the form of “rape trees.” Now they face an even greater danger of being assaulted on “this side” of the border, thanks to Abbott’s idea that South Texas is somehow a war-torn, “third-world country” because of one case of corruption (I guess Governor Christie’s New Jersey should be invaded with nuclear weapons, according to his logic).  It is a real phenomenon.
        Third, the articles there are from 2009; how is it that you consider this new ? I ask again. Both are derivative of a Texas Observer piece, or maybe written as a reaction to it. I cannot say for sure, as I only read the articles today -- the website has broken links, so if it were mine why would I boast of that rather than fix them?

         The Observer piece describes what happens to women in ICE custody with at least one anecdote about a conversation with one deportee after her return to Honduras.

        Si deseamos persuadir, debemos ser verídicos. Si deseamos conducir, debemos ser exactos. Si deseamos ganar, debemos ser honestos.

        Bad as the Texas Republican Party is, it does not claim coyotes or border bandits among its publicly-acknowledged members.

        Soy Tejana. Sé este país de trabajar y vivir aquí.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 09:42:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •   Rape by government officials of any (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Arianna Editrix

          kind against non citizens worried about being deported is reported even less than regular rape is. Plus government officials police border agents etc have friends in the system and that makes prosecuting rapes against them much harder.
              I do agree I would like more recent articles but Greg's statements  about illegals are recent so any trend that follows from those statements has likely not happened yet.
               I suspect though they will and the writer has every right to point out a potential problem before it happens.
               Just like the Left did before we invaded Iraq. I still remember being mocked after Bush's Mission Accomplished statement by the Press but in the end we turned out to be right. I fear Christine Boswell might be right about this.

        •  entonces tu sabes... (0+ / 0-)

          This was the point of my article: militarization of the border and "national security rape." A discussion of the past is necessary (as with all subjects where dog-whistle words are used to trigger something.)  When he referred to South Texas as a "third world country" is triggered something. For me, it was the LIC doctrine. It is still in existence today. It then led to "national security rape." As a Texan, you know, very little is written about these crimes (again, militarization of the border and "national security rape").  As a matter of fact, google it.  There is little. But as  the situation of militarization intensifies, so will this issue. There have been cases already.   That was also my point.  Why? For reasons I stated in the diary.  

          I don't know at what point in the article you saw where I "claimed coyotes and border bandits" as a publicly acknowledged member of the 'GOP.' You inferred that on your own. The way the article intended it was "on top of those worries" now we have this problem. But in no way did I tie coyotes and bandits with the GOP.

          I thank you for the debate. I must move on now. Comments are always welcome. Good, bad, whatever. I want to respond to some as this is the way I interact.

          •  moving right along, then: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Arianna Editrix

            Greg Abbott, Todd Staples and that whole cabal need to be voted out of office muy pronto y permanente -- for the good of the whole USA, not just Texas.

            But what is happening here -- and I quoted the same article about "rape trees" you did only more fully to show what I found when I followed your links -- is that we still can do something to prevent Texas' border from becoming another Arizona border.

            So I will join you in asking "The People of Texas and All Americans in the World" to support Davis and Van De Putte, and a Democrat for Texas attorney general (NOT Kinky!)

            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 08:42:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I debated hitting the HR on this comment (0+ / 0-)

        Because of this statement:

        However, what I did get from your "argument" is nothing more than shameless, jealous promotion of your website, and using me as some sort of platform for doing so.  We call this "Horizontal hostility" in feminism.
        You are a VERY new user here.   You registered a few days ago,  write one diary, post a couple of comments, adopt a rude an abrasive attitude and make accusations of a long standing and upstanding member of this forum.

        Sorry, but any already limited amount of credibility you had in this diary went down the toilet with this comment.

        "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

        by blackhand on Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 01:29:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect the (0+ / 0-)

    Greg Abbott is trying to scare any Hispanic from voting on election day and will have poll monitors questioning anyone who looks brown. Also local police will likely stop any brown people on the way to the polls come election day.
          I do agree Greg's racist attitude does encourage a culture of rape but its not just immigrant woman who should worry.
          I mean how can you tell if a Woman is illegal many speak english because its not their first time crossing the border. Clothes I've seen immigrants dress up for church and legal Hispanics dress down to work.
         Under the guise of going after illegals Greg wants to crack down on all Hispanics.
          Given the current economy sucks the number of illegals coming to America has dropped huge so why is Greg making the border an issue except to rally racist voters.

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