Today, frustration with the Obama administration’s continued deportations at the rate of 1,000 people a day, plus the humanitarian crisis at the border, has prompted many people of faith to organize more formally, in the spirit of a “new sanctuary movement,” to support new arrivals from Central America as well as undocumented migrants who have long lived in the United States. Noel Anderson, a grassroots coordinator for Church World Service, a faith organization that advocates for immigrant rights, convened the first national conference call in early September that brought together fifty people working in different coalitions to discuss national sanctuary strategy for the first time since the 1980s.
Maru Mora-Villalpando lives in fear of deportation. As a community organizer for #Not1More Deportation and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, her fears are not unfounded. Her nephew was deported in 2008; her cousin was deported in 2010 and she has seen countless other families separated. “I expect that to happen to me as well,” she said. Mora-Villalpando says her 17-year-old daughter constantly worries that she will be deported, particularly because of her activism, which forces her to travel frequently. “We have to be in constant touch. This is how I protect her and lessen her stress that her mother can be taken at any moment,” she told Truthout. Research shows this kind of fear can be profoundly detrimental for children. The study “The Children Left Behind: The Impact of Parental Deportation on Mental Health” notes the crucial role of parent-child relationships in social skills, emotion regulation and self-concept development.
As recently as June, more than 10,000 children fleeing unchecked gang violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala made it here over the course of a month. Then, a major security crackdown in Mexico slowed the pace of their arrivals down to about 3,000 in August — the lowest rate since January and about the same as the pace of arrivals last year. It’s what passes for “normal” in this sad situation. Chief among them: How much did U.S. military intervention, deportation policy, and Drug War blunders contribute to making El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras unstable and dangerous places, especially for tweens and teens? A lot, actually. This growing realization prompted calls for the kids to be treated as legal refugees.
The militarized “solutions” taught at the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) are also being applied to communities within the US. We need to end the racist system of state violence and militarization at home and abroad. Our Struggles Stand Together: Converge on Ferguson, Fort Benning and the Stewart Detention Center Mass mobilizations in which thousands take to the streets have always been an important part of social change movements. We need to strengthen our organizing and build lasting coalitions with others who are resisting across the Americas. Support our friends in Ferguson and St. Louis! Mobilize your community to converge on Fort Benning, Georgia fromNovember 21-23, 2014, where we will connect the dots between militarization in Latin America and the US. Join the Caravan to the Vigil to Shut Down the Stewart Detention Center, where communities in resistence will come togetheron Saturday, November 22. Stewart is the largest corporate detention center in the US….
The jury concluded that the US and Mexican governments are jointly responsible for a generalized pattern of grave human rights violations committed against migrants in transit on Mexican territory, on their way to the United States, between 2010 and 2014. The jury also concluded that the massacre was the predictable and thus preventable result of actions and omissions by Mexican authorities responsible for systematic, egregious and recurrent human rights violations against migrants in transit. These violations include the Mexican government’s failure to protect migrants in transit from death or injury due to serious abuses committed by drug traffickers and human traffickers in complicity with Mexican authorities.
“Our message is blunt: migrants are dying who need not,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing, “It is time to do more than count the number of victims. It is time to engage the world to stop this violence against desperate migrants.” The research behind “Fatal Journeys,” which runs to over 200 pages, began with the October 2013 tragedy when over 400 migrants died in two shipwrecks near the Italian island of Lampedusa. The report, compiled under IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, indicates Europe is the world’s most dangerous destination for “irregular” migration, costing the lives of over 3,000 migrants this year.
Thousands of Palestinians have left the Gaza Strip for Europe using tunnels, traffickers and boats, testimonies obtained by Haaretz show. Gazans have been fleeing the Strip since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, but their escape was hardly covered in the media since they have been leaving clandestinely, with the help of paid smugglers. The sinking of two ships carrying Palestinians from Gaza — one off the coast of Malta last week, and the other off the coast of Egypt — and the drowning of hundreds of passengers have focused attention on the trend. The Palestinian Embassy in Greece reported yesterday that the ship that sank off the coast of Malta was carrying more than 450 passengers, most of them Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and that it was rammed intentionally by another ship run by rival smugglers.
In its continued efforts around its Latinos United for Immigration Reform campaign, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 39 of the nation’s preeminent Latino organizations, strongly encourages the President to listen to the perspectives of the Latino and undocumented community as he considers policy options on immigration matters. With 97 percent of the deportation population being Latino, the impact of separations due to the Administration’s deportation policy is hitting Latino families particularly hard. Underscoring NHLA’s commitment to an inclusive approach, the coalition decided at its quarterly board meeting last month to formally endorse the national boycott of meetings with the President on immigration matters if they do not include representatives of undocumented immigrants. Accordingly, NHLA will make every effort to include undocumented representatives in any meeting it has with President Obama on immigration matters. If the White House will not meet with undocumented immigrants, then NHLA members will decline to meet with the President. “NHLA stands with the hundreds of thousands of families that need President Obama to take swift action on deportation relief. Any delay of affirmative relief, as some have urged on the President, should not be contemplated before consulting directly with members of the Latino and undocumented communities as they would be the ones most seriously and irrevocably harmed,” said Hector Sanchez, NHLA Chair and Executive Director, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
On July 1st, a group of ‘illegal immigrants’ were flown from Texas’ overcrowded immigrant detention centers to California and transported in three buses for processing in the city of Murrieta. The immigrants, mostly women and children, were greeted by city residents waving American flags, chanting “go back home,” and blocking the road – forcing Border Patrol agents to change course and transport the group to a facility in San Diego. The protests continued on July 4th when more buses were scheduled to arrive at Murrieta. Responding to Tuesday’s blockade, pro-immigration residents in Murrieta, along with supporters from the surrounding counties, held a counter protest to greet the incoming with sympathy and to pressure Murrieta authorities to not allow for another obstruction. While the buses never arrived, the tension of the situation turned violent when five pro-immigration protesters were aggressively arrested by Murrieta police. This past week, the district attorney chose to press charges against the five. One of the charges they now face is as bizarre as it is serious: “Lynching,” as defined by the California penal code. Introduced in 1933 to prevent mobs from kidnapping suspects in custody and executing them, the archaic law only defines lynching as the “taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer.” But the account of events given by Murrieta police–the same account that the media reported–and the charges the five now face are unsupported by the facts visible in video footage of the incident. In context, the incident parallels the sometimes deadly brutality exhibited by police in cities such as Ferguson, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco.
Today’s news is a clear statement from Washington that once again, politics trumps the lives of people. Six years ago, President Obama was elected on a pledge to pass immigration reform in the first 100 days of his term. Instead, his administration has squandered the opportunity to move a bill under a majority Democratic Congress. They have chosen to continue the previous administration’s “endgame” enforcement policies to build and expand a deportation machinery that has torn families apart, criminalized working class people whose labor we benefit from, and only served to benefit private prisons and private military contractors on the border. Yet again the President asks the people for more time. Our families don’t have that time – not when ICE’s arbitrary quotas demand that 32,000 people be detained a day and 1,100 end up being deported daily. The major lesson for our movement now is to overcome the cruel partisan gamesmanship that dominates our culture
Federal officials are planning a new for-profit family detention lockup for immigrant children and their parents in South Texas. The 2,400-bed “South Texas Family Detention Center”—as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is referring to it—is slated for a 50-acre site just outside the town of Dilley, 70 miles southwest of San Antonio. The detention center is part of the Obama administration’s response to the surge in children and families from Central America crossing the Texas-Mexico border. In a statement to the Observer, ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said the facility was intended “to accommodate the influx of individuals arriving illegally on the Southwest border.” The property is part of Sendero Ranch, a “workforce housing community,” better known in the oil patch as a “man camp” for oilfield workers. Sendero Ranch is owned by Koontz McCombs, a commercial real estate firm connected to San Antonio mogul Red McCombs. Loren Gulley, vice president for Koontz McCombs, said the company is still negotiating the deal but Corrections Corporation of America—the world’s largest for-private prison company—is expected to run the detention center, and Koontz McCombs would lease the existing “man camp” to ICE. A detailed site map provided to Frio County shows a large fenced campus, including both residential housing as well as a gym, chapel and “community pavilions.” The “man camp” has enough space to temporarily house 680 detainees while new structures are being built, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said.
Call it irony or call it a nightmare, but the “crisis” of Central American children crossing the U.S.-Mexican border, which lasted for months amid fervent and angry debate, is now fading from the news. The media stories have been legion, the words expended many. And yet, as the “crisis” leaves town, as the sound and fury die down and attention shifts elsewhere (even though the children continue to arrive), the real factors that would have made sense of what’s been happening remain essentially untouched and largely unmentioned. It couldn’t be stranger — or sadder. Since late June 2014, the “surge” of those thousands of desperate children entering this country has been in the news. Sensational stories were followed by fervent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations with emotions running high. And it’s not a debate that stayed near the southern border either. In my home state, Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick tearfully offered to detain some of the children — and that was somehow turned into a humanitarian gesture that liberals applauded and anti-immigrant activists decried. Meanwhile the mayor of Lynn, a city north of Boston, echoed nativists on the border, announcing that her town didn’t want any more immigrants. The months of this sort of emotion, partisanship, and one-upmanship have, however, diverted attention from the real issues. As so often is the case, there is so much more to the story than what we’ve been hearing in the news.
National immigrants’ rights groups are suing the U.S. government over claims of lack of due process for “scores” of Central American women and children at the Artesia immigrant detention facility in New Mexico. The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, National Immigration Law Center, and National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild announced their lawsuit in response to what they say is a failure of immigration laws. The national immigrants’ rights groups claimed the federal government has denied fair deportation processes for mothers and children, notably in Artesia. American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project Director Cecillia Wang said the purpose of the lawsuit is to “challenge” the U.S. government’s procedures on policing immigrants, saying they are trying to deport them “as soon as possible.” Wang said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s message to immigrants was “We will send you back” to their native countries, despite the ongoing difficulties happening at home. Wang said their immigrant clients have “repeatedly” been told by border patrol that they will be deported. An immigratio
Police arrested dozens of people at a protest in the front of the White House Thursday for engaging in an act of large-scale civil disobedience. The demonstration, which was dubbed Fight for Families, denounced the deportations of undocumented immigrants that separate children, who are often born in the United States, from their undocumented parents. A protest organizer pegged the number of people arrested at somewhere between 200 and 300; however, U.S. Park Police said in a statement that 145 protesters were arrested. The demonstrators were taken into custody for sitting down on the sidewalk in front of the White House and refusing move when ordered to do so by police. Calling the protest an act of ‟civil disobedience,” the arrests were intentional on the part of the demonstrators. “The folks who sitting there today were willing to get arrested and spend the day in jail to say that the immigration system splitting up families is wrong,” said Chita Tanjabi, a vice president at the National Organization for Women, who participated in the protest, but was not arrested.
A Palestinian woman, Rasmea Odeh, was arrested at her home this morning, Oct. 22, by agents of the Department of Homeland Security. She is charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship, she didn’t mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago by an Israeli military court that detains Palestinians without charge – a court that has over 200 children in prison today and does not recognize the rights of Palestinians to due process. Judge Paul D. Borman removed himself from the case of Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh. Earlier this month, the judge stridently denied a defense motion calling on him to step down. The motion claimed that his life-long support for the state of Israel—whose arrest, torture, and conviction of Odeh for alleged Jerusalem bombings in 1969 is at issue in this case—would not allow for a fair trial. Odeh has pleaded not guilty to the charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, and vehemently refutes the Israeli convictions, which were based on a forced confession after extended periods of vicious physical and sexual torture.