As part of the national #Not1more Deportation campaign, immigrant communities in more than seventy cities will participate in a national day of action under the banner of “Two Million Too Many” with marches, rallies, vigils, and forums to push the White House to take immediate action to expand deferred action, end its quota programs like S-Comm, and suspend deportations. The protests are prompted by the record deportations under the Obama administration which are reaching the milestone of two million removals since he took office. Beginning on the April 5th “Two Million Too Many” national day of events against deportations, families and undocumented immigrants will begin an indefinite presence at the White House until President Obama stops deportations and reunites them with their loved ones currently held in detention.
After a massive hunger strike inside the Tacoma Detention Center reached its 11th day, detainees found their effort spreading to other facilities inspired by their demands. Last night at midnight, immigrants held at the Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, TX initiated their own fast in protest of their treatment at the facility run by the same company, the GEO Group, and as part of the nation-wide call for an end to deportations. Immigrant rights activist Maru Mora Villalpando sees momentum building for reforms but expressed concern over the reaction of ICE and the GEO Group: “The hunger strikers are civil rights leaders taking a brave stand against inhumane treatment. At the Northwest Detention Center, GEO Group and ICE have retaliated by putting leaders in solitary confinement and threatening to force-feed others. With the strike spreading to Texas, it’s time for ICE and GEO Group to recognize the detainees’ demands instead of engaging in retaliation.”
“As many as a dozen men detained at the for-profit Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., are entering their second week of a hunger strike to protest record deportations and the abysmal conditions inside the center[…]The hunger strike began on Friday, when hundreds of the detainees at the Tacoma facility refused meals and issued a set of demands that included fair pay, better food and an end to deportation. On Monday, the detainees released an updated list of demands that included an end to deportations, particularly of parents; bonds to fight cases from home; and the quicker resolution of cases. Detainees said they were inspired to launch the strike after activists from the #Not1More campaign blocked deportation buses leaving the facility on February 24. Actions against ICE detention centers have swept the country over the last six months as an increasing number of migrant justice groups have shifted to using direct action to demand an end to the record high deportations.”
Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher wrote that the officers’ “level of force applied must reflect the totality of the circumstances surrounding each situation.” Fisher advised officers to stop shooting at moving vehicles and rock throwers, that is, unless officers believe that the “subject of such force poses and imminent danger of death or serious injury.” According to Fisher, Border Patrol officers have killed 10 people since 2010 after rock-throwing incidents after 1,713 incidents of rock-throwing. The memo “leaves much to be desired,” ACLU policy counsel Chris Rickerd told the AP. “It is largely a restatement of existing policy, which is a shame because clearly existing policy isn’t working,” Rickerd said.
“The detainees, who have been refusing to eat since Friday, are demanding better food, safer working conditions and for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order ending deportations, according to Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of Latino Advocacy. The hunger strikers, Villalpando said, are part of a growing, nationwide campaign against the U.S. immigration policy. Villalpando put the number of hunger strikers at 1,200, more than twice what ICE reported to Al Jazeera. The strike is expected to last through Tuesday, Villalpando said. The center, which is run by the private correctional services company GEO Group, currently houses 1,300 people being investigated for possible deportation.”
The detainees, who have been refusing to eat since Friday, are demanding better food, saferworking conditions and for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order ending deportations, according to Maru Mora Villalpando, founder of Latino Advocacy. The hunger strikers, Villalpando said, are part of a growing, nationwide campaign against the U.S. immigration policy. Villalpando put the number of hunger strikers at 1,200, more than twice what ICE reported to Al Jazeera. The strike is expected to last through Tuesday, Villalpando said. The center, which is run by the private correctional services company GEO Group, currently houses 1,300 people being investigated for possible deportation. ICE told Al Jazeera that hunger strikers are under continuous observation by detention center staff and medical personnel: “ICE fully respects the rights of all people to express their opinion without interference.”
My own immigration plan was conceived in 1965. My mother won the diversity visa lottery under the Immigration Act. Her desperation to leave a failing marriage and the stifling patriarchy of India overrode any sentimental obligation to play the ideal Indian woman. I would remain in India with my father, however. Relatives gasped, “What woman leaves a child behind to carve out a new life in a foreign country?” In her absence, I would have plenty of time to ponder that question. The agreement between my parents was that I would be raised in India until I was old enough to make my own decision.
Alfaro was born in Houston, Tex., in 1979. She left the U.S. just shy of her 5th birthday and largely grew up in El Salvador with her father. Her mother, a naturalized U.S. citizen, remained in Texas. Alfaro, who grew up speaking Spanish, has few memories of her early childhood in the U.S. but she always knew she was a citizen. Around the time she turned 16, with U.S. birth certificate in hand, she applied and was approved for a U.S. passport. She saved up some cash and purchased a round-trip ticket to New York in 1998. Alfaro’s partner had family there, and she wanted take a short vacation there. But that two-week trip was cut short by immigration authorities at New York City’s JFK Airport.
“On a routine visit to Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday, President Obama was again confronted by a passionate immigration reform activist calling for an end to deportations. John Molina, a 46-year-old Colombian immigrant, interrupted a speech Obama was giving about his recent minimum wage increase. Much like 24-year-old Ju Hong—who called out the president in November during a speech in San Francisco—Molina stood on a chair and yelled, “Mr. Obama, stop the deportations!” Originally, Molina went to the event to join a demonstration outside of the university, and hadn’t planned on going in. But once he arrived he decided it was his only chance to tell the president how he really felt. Unlike with Hong, however, the president did not respond, nor did he intervene when Molina was asked to leave. ”
The action includes Pilar Molina whose husband is on hunger strike at a detention center in Norristown, Pennsylvania and Hermina Gallegos from Phoenix, Arizona where families and detainees are refusing to eat until their loved ones are released from extended detention. Their individual cases highlight the urgent need for the President to take immediate action and stop record deportations.. While it is undisputed is that the President has the legal authority to expand the deferred action for childhood arrivals program and suspend deportations, he has chosen not to do so thus far. Recent polls show the majority of Americans believe that the government’s main focus should include the undocumented, not deport them. Earlier this year, Nearly 5,000 people of faith have signed a petition to the President urging him to take action that reads in part, “In all our faith traditions we are taught to love our neighbor…
In response to the 45,000 people being detained by United States Immigration Officials, the Arizona-based human rights group Puenteaz has organized a hunger strike led by family members and friends of those in detention. The hunger strike started on February 17th, and will continue until March 3rd. In Phoenix Arizona, protesters are camped out in front of the ICE office there. Solidarity actions are happening nationally as well, with 32 protesters being arrested as part of a non-violent civil disobedience action in front of the White House in Washington DC, to mark the first day of the hunger strike. This peaceful protest has already drawn the ire of intolerant community members. A frozen burrito with the message, “learn english wetback go back to mexico” scrawled on it in sharpie marker was thrown into the camp by an anonymous passerby on day two of the hunger strike.
The community and the community organizing had a big role. One of the main arguments in court was that there is not proof of racial profiling, so community members organized people to call SPLC’s hotline with their stories and build a case against the state. It was really a lot of the community pushing to get SPLC to get cases to then present to a court. What happened right now was a victory through the judicial process. But the SPLC has always looked to the community, and the community has always seeded cases to them. Art making became really central to how I approached community building. In Tuscaloosa, we started banner making as a form of identification and education. People who worked at thrift stores would bring sheets. I’d bring cardboard from dumpsters. Kids would paint while the parents would do the letters. We used a lot of handprints — butterfly and flower handprints — so that the whole families could get involved. We would make them at my house or at the Catholic church. Then we’d drive around with signs on our cars to announce that there would be a rally in Montgomery. The bus would come, and we’d all pile in.
According to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the vast majority of immigrants deported from Travis County were not convicted of serious crimes, many having committed not criminal offense or minor offenses such as driving without a license or expired registration stickers. “The criminalization of our immigrant community must stop. When our local police force focuses on detaining and deporting non-criminal hardworking members of our community, they are not only separating families, they are also diverting time and financial resources from addressing real dangerous crime,” says Alejandro Caceres, Executive Director of the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition. “The criminalization of our immigrant community must stop.
In his speech the president said, “Let’s make this a year of action.” Our movement lives by those words, and in 2014 we will honor them through increasing pressure on both the Obama administration and a Congress which has failed every opportunity to act, despite overwhelming consensus on the urgent need for a new legal working system that provides equality and dignity through citizenship and protections for all workers. The President’s stated desire for reform continues to contradict his own capacity to make relief a reality. It is within his power to provide relief by expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other options to help the 11 million, and he can stop the deportation machine by ending ICE policies that lead to criminalizing people who would be the very beneficiaries of the reform he says he wants Congress to pass.
Obama talked about the deepening inequality. But that is a testament of his own presidency. A presidency that has betrayed the hopes of tens of millions of people who voted for him out of a genuine desire for fundamental change away from corporate politics and war mongering. Poverty is at record-high numbers – 95% of the gains in productivity during the so-called recovery have gone to the top 1%. The president’s focus on income inequality was an admission of the failure of his policies. An admission forced by rallies, demonstrations, and strikes by fast food and low wage workers demanding a minimum wage of $15. It has been forced by the outrage over the widening gulf between the super-rich and those of us working to create this wealth in society. While the criminals on Wall Street are bailed out, courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are hunted down and the unconstitutional acts he exposed are allowed to continue.