On Friday afternoon, the Presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will be meeting with President Obama and Vice-President Biden to discuss the situation facing refugee children who have fled Central America and come to the United States. Join us as we call on President Obama to uphold and defend the legal rights of children, ensure that families can be reunited and protected here in the U.S., and to take responsibility for U.S. economic and military policies in Mexico and Central America that helped create this crisis in the first place. Join The Quixote Center, GHRC, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Sisters of Mercy – Institute Justice Team, School of the Americas Watch and the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns for: A Rally to Protect Central American Children, Friday, July 25, 3:00 pm, White House (16th and Pennsylvania Ave, NW)
What neither corporate media nor US Latino politicians will point out is that none of the current wave of refugees are coming from Nicaragua, although it has a similar history to Guatemala, Hondruas and El Salvador, and its just as poor. Why? According to NicaNet.Org, a project of the Nicaragua Solidary Committee. . . “The problem of the children migrants is blowback from US policy in the 1980s when our government trained and funded Salvadoran and Guatemalan military and police to prevent popular revolutions and more recently when the US supported the coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. Those countries were left with brutal, corrupt armies and police forces whereas Nicaragua, with its successful 1979 revolution, got rid of Somoza’s brutal National Guard and formed a new army and a new police made up of upstanding citizens.
Priests, shopkeepers, doctors, lawyers, activists and even artists are among those who make up a network that is starting to spring up in the United States to help migrant kids – but they must keep the network underground to avoid attacks by anti-immigrant groups. A pro-immigrant underground network has emerged, operating in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Ventura counties, where 47 percent of the population is Hispanic. The system of humanitarian aid has started to extend across the country, and the children and their families have received transportation, plane tickets, medical care, legal representation, places to stay, and even free haircuts. Luz Maria Gallegos, a short, dark-skinned woman, is starting to lose her voice and her arm is cramping up. For the last two hours, she has been holding up a sign and yelling, “Against racism, igualdad para todos [equality for everyone].” She drove from San Bernardino to Murrieta, Calif., to support the protest in favor of releasing the migrant kids.
The United States deported a group of Honduran children as young as 1-1/2 years old on Monday in the first flight since President Barack Obama pledged to speed up the process of sending back illegal immigrant minors from Central America. Fleeing violence and poverty, record numbers of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have crossed into the United States over the past year, testing U.S. border facilities and sparking intense debate about how to solve the problem. Monday’s charter flight from New Mexico to San Pedro Sula, the city with the highest murder rate in the world, returned 17 Honduran women, as well as 12 girls and nine boys, aged between 18 months and 15 years, the Honduran government said. Looking happy, the deported children exited the airport on an overcast and sweltering afternoon. One by one, they filed into a bus, playing with balloons they had been given. Nubia, a 6-year-old girl among the deportees, said she left Honduras a month ago for a journey that ended when she and her mother were caught on the Mexico-Texas border two weeks later. “Horrible, cold and tiring,” was how Nubia remembered the trip that was meant to unite the pair with her three uncles already living in the United States. Instead, her mother Dalia paid $7,000 in vain to a coyote, or guide, to smuggle them both across the border.
Governors from across the country are in Music City to tackle key issues including education, health care and jobs. Saturday, protestors gathered outside the Omni Hotel demanding to be a part of the conversation. Legislative Plaza served as a meeting point for the hopes and dreams of dozens who gather under a collective front called the Freedom Side. With signs and tape over their mouths they walked in silent protest through downtown to the Omni, straight for the National Governor’s Association meeting. “We just want to talk to the Governors about four issues,” protestor Jayanni Webster said, “The criminalization of black and brown youth, living wage jobs, equal education and democratic rights.” Protesters were greeted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who created a barrier to prevent them from entering private property. After learning no one would come out to speak to them, five protestors tried to walk inside and were arrested and charged with trespassing.
The sad truth is that this “crisis at the border” is yet another example of “blowback.” Confusing the issue for casual American news consumers is that the current border crisis doesn’t involve the usual Mexicans traveling north in search of work. Instead, we’re talking about people from Central American nations devastated by a century of American colonialism and imperialism, much of that intervention surprisingly recent. The fact that Honduras is the biggest source of the exodus jumped out at me. That’s because, in 2009, the United States government — under President Obama — tacitlysupported a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras. “Washington has a very close relationship with the Honduran military, which goes back decades,” The Guardian noted at the time. “During the 1980s, the US used bases in Honduras to train and arm the Contras, Nicaraguan paramilitaries who became known for their atrocities in their war against the Sandinista government in neighbouring Nicaragua.”
Civil disobedience and pro-immigrant rights advocates calling for a moratorium on deportations. With two million deportations since Obama took office, every day that means 1,100 people are torn apart from their families. The pressure is on President Obama to use his executive powers to allow an expanded deferred action from deportation. U.S. officials are now facing interior and increased undocumented crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border who, by the way, are not fleeing but surrendering to U.S. Border Patrol officials. These relief efforts will not necessarily apply to recent arrivals.
The vast majority of Salvadorans, like other Central Americans, don’t want to migrate to the U.S. They love their families and communities and would much prefer to stay and work or go to school in their own countries. Creating stricter immigration rules and deporting more children will not stop this wave of forced migrants; only giving them the chance to survive and prosper at home will. The U.S. Government could do a lot to make life better in El Salvador and Honduras. But right now they are doing just the opposite. . . only a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy will help change conditions in Central America and ease the humanitarian crisis at our border. The U.S. government must stop pushing free trade and privatization and start funding social programs. But most of all it must stand up for human rights. And these include the right not to migrate but to stay, study, work, speak out and live happily in your own home country.
The U.S. government’s primary objective in Honduras, as with the rest of Latin America, has never been to establish a safe and prosperous society for its citizens. The Honduran government has simply been a proxy for U.S. business interests, first the United Fruit Company, and now the U.S. military-industrial complex. And because Washington’s game plan has been so successful in Honduras, we have our glimpse at what could be in store for Central America and beyond. Order and peace is desired by policymakers insofar as it creates an environment for the U.S. government and the governments it controls can impose neoliberal policies on the region and extract wealth. It’s no surprise then that Honduras, the original banana republic, and the poster child for U.S. meddling run amok, should today be the country of origin for the greatest number of child migrants. The United States’ vampirish policy toward Honduras has drained that country.
Recently, images of migrant prison warehouses on the US-Mexico border have been leaked to the media. These images are grotesque, illustrating the inhumane conditions of incarceration inside warehouses nicknamed “coolers” or “ice boxes”. This is where people who are captured while trying to cross the border are taken by Customs and Border Protection (CPB), one of the branches of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), before being transferred to other detention facilities around the country. The reactions to these images are of justifiable outrage — people are crammed into cold warehouses that are not fit to house human beings, with no mattresses to sleep on and with no legal rights, no access to health care or to basic needs such as toilet paper.
Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal. A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco. The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves. Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.
What sort of criminal is the target of most federal prosecutions? Mobsters? Bank robbers? No: illegal immigrants. And where do they go? To private prisons, for whom America’s immigration system is a giant profit center. A new report from the ACLU takes a deep look at Criminal Alien Requirement [CAR] prisons—privately run federal prisons designed to house people convicted of breaking immigrations laws. You might be shocked to learn how big of a business this has become. From the report: Nationwide, more than half of all federal criminal prosecutions initiated in fiscal year 2013 were for unlawfully crossing the border into the United States—an act that has traditionally been treated as a civil offense resulting in deportation, rather than as a criminal act resulting in incarceration in a federal prison. This is dramatically changing who enters the federal prison system. The tipping point came in 2009, when more people entered federal prison for immigration offenses than for violent, weapons, and property offenses combined—and the number has continued to rise each year since. Thanks to very deliberate choices on the part of our legal system, more immigration violations now end with prison, rather than with deportation.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform is inherently anti-immigrant. It is presented as a “path to citizenship” and as a temporary solution to halting the incarceration/deportation of some migrants, but it is actually an attack in disguise. The reform package known as Senate Bill S.744 is a blatant plot to further immobilize, mold, and reduce the lives of migrants. Comprehensive Immigration Reform, otherwise known as “CIR”, is not about restoring the dignity and human rights of migrants. It is, however, an opportunity to reinforce white supremacy, the rule of law; racist/imperial borders; free trade and exploitable labor from the global south, and will further invisibilize the existence of Indigenous/First Nations peoples living in and around the so-called US/Mexico border, which at the time of its creation, bisected the homelands of four Indigenous tribes. The title of Senate Bill S.744 is, “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act”. The title makes it easy to infer the priority of the bill–border security. The policing/surveillance of the 1,933-mile colonial boundary called the US/Mexico border has grown exponentially in the last decade. Communities along this border have experienced the unrelenting infestation of increasingly abusive Border Patrol agents, aerial drones, in-land weaponized checkpoints during daily routines in their own neighborhoods, and increased freight traffic. In addition, despite the increased border security, people still die in the deserts of the border region, those migrating north from Mexico and Central America to flee economic and/or political injustice. This bill will continue to limit the freedom of movement for Indigenous peoples as the bill contains provisions for increased militarization of their homelands, and will thus continue shifting border crossers through the perilous deserts of Lipan Apache, Kickapoo, Tohono O’odham, and Yaqui homelands.
From CreativeResistance.org: Grammy winning & nominated musicians, visual artists, performers, and local community members will host the 5th Undocunation, a traveling arts and music festival that both uplifts migrant stories and speaks out against unjust immigration laws that separate families and discriminate against LGBTQ communities and people of color. The Undocunation event is rooted in the conviction that art, music and creativity can transform the debate around immigration. UndocuNation seeks to uplift creative activism and provide communities with the tools to address threats to civil liberties at the intersection of our nation’s most pressing social justice issues. Art and culture, together with community organizing, is a powerful vehicle to advance the rights of marginalized people and diminish the impact of discriminatory activity at the local level. History shows that when culture changes, politics follows.
On October 5, Mayor Rahm Emanuel paraded with major NGO’s like Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to promote Comprehensive Immigration Reform. On October 12, ICIRR and several other major NGO’s are mobilizing a March for Immigration Reform with Dignity and Respect. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But these two actions are part of a much broader campaign of manipulation, falsely promising that Immigration Reform legislation will “keep families together”, “legalize 11 Million people” “make our immigration system more just” and “stop deportations”. It is a scam. Living in Chicago has taught us a few hard lessons about “Reform”. We have learned that “Housing Reform” means closing public housing, displacing thousands of poor people in the interests of greedy developers. “Education Reform” means closing the schools in poor, immigrant and Black communities in order to open up the market for privatized schools. “Health Care Reform” means closing mental health clinics serving poor people to make way for gentrification projects, funneling those left without care into the prison system. And “Immigrant Detention Reform” means opening up more detention centers and detaining more people including children, in newly built “family-friendly” prisons. “Reform” is what the domestic war looks like, a war waged against immigrants, the poor, the unemployed, women and others who can be made socially vulnerable and disposable. “Reform” is the nice-sounding way to package racism in a “post-racial” America. Rahm Emanuel is the perfect spokesperson for Reform.