OUR MEETING WAS CONVENED BY THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE'S Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project, the Comision Mexicana de Promocion y Defensa de Derechos Humanos (Mexican Commission to Promote and Defend Human Rights), Mexico-U.S. Advocates Network, Movimiento Ciudadano por la Democracia (Citizen Movement for Democracy), National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos "Todos los Derechos para Todos" (National Network of Civil Organisms for Human Rights "All Rights for All"),Seminario Permanente de Estudios Chicanos y de Fronteras, Centro de Estudios de Fronteras y Chicanos (Permanent Seminar on Chicano and Border Studies, Center for Chicano and Border Studies), and Sin Fronteras (Without Borders).
The Encounter was divided into three sessions, with the first held on the evening of Thursday, November 11, 2000, 50 that we could introduce ourselves and meet other participants. It turned out very well, despite the cold that gripped us on the patio of the old Mint Building, now the National Museum of Cultures, located just behind the National Palace. One detail was quite remarkable: a local woman who worked in one of the shops on Calle de la Soledad, past the National Palace block, decided to come in and join us when she saw the banner announcing the Encounter. She told us that her brother had migrated and was living in Los Angeles, California. She was interested in everything related to our themes, since her own family now lives the migration phenomenon. The spirit of participation brought by this woman reminded us that all our actions have, ultimately, names and faces belonging to concrete human beings.
The second session took place during the day on November 12 and consisted of work sessions and discussion at three concurrent sections, each of which dealt with one of the main topics indicated in the title of the Encounter: Globalization, Migration, and Militarization. The third meeting occurred on November 13, where each of the sections presented to the plenary body a summary of its discussion. Each also indicated what had been learned or debated. General conclusions were developed and a press conference was held.
The Encounter never intended to develop or legitimate a particular agenda regarding borders. An aim had been to create a forum exclusively for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). For that reason, although several Mexican Foreign Service officers expressed interest, we rejected their participation. Our effort coincided with others undertaken by several institutions of Mexican civil society that sought to craft a citizens' agenda. (l) It was clear to all of us, however, that migrant-aid organizations in Mexico and the United States are not yet in a position to create a detailed agenda for their work, demands, and projects. Such an agenda would also require the participation of organizations in Central America and Canada, key geographical areas for the focus of our meeting, but for various reasons, their organizations could not join us.
The forum created by this Encounter was not the first of its kind. Encounters took place during the debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Indeed, our meeting took place on the 10th anniversary of the first meeting called by organizations in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada in the early days of the trade integration process in the hemisphere. Although a great deal of time has passed and our experiences have accumulated, the organizers believed that much remains to be done before a meeting like ours could produce a detailed agenda for public policies on borders.
This forum proposed something simpler: to share experiences and learn what was being done by other organizations interested in the Mexico-U.S. border. We came to meet and get to know each other, hold initial discussions, and understand our positions on the three phenomena that we are all experiencing-- globalization, migration, and militarization. …