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.
During a book signing in Florida on Saturday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was confronted by a group of Dreamers over his vote against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA. Earlier this month, House Republicans voted to end the Obama administration program that has helped more than 550,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents to remain and work in the U.S. for a renewable two-year period. Many Republicans have blamed the policy for the recent surge of unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months, despite there being little evidence to support the talking point. “A couple weeks ago you voted for a defunding DACA,” one Dreamer asked Ryan, who was signing copies of his new book, The Way Forward. “It would put me and my sister up for deportation. We just had a question — do you want to deport me and my sister?” Ryan largely ignored the question, pressing the activists to “read the position in the book.” The activists were escorted away from the congressman.
Like many cities in the South, New Orleans has a proud history of civil rights leadership — along with an equally grim history of civil rights violations. That history is repeating itself today. The African American community is again facing economic injustice and abuse from law enforcement. But, this time, the immigrant workers who rebuilt New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina are also the targets of brutal civil rights violations. And those same workers are showing extraordinary bravery in fighting to end them. In November 2013, I was proud to stand alongside immigrant workers and community leaders engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in New Orleans to expose a brutal program of stop and frisk racial profiling-based immigration raids called CARI (Criminal Alien Removal Initiative), which targets Latinos. Squads from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), together with local police, have been conducting race-based immigration raids anywhere Latinos gather: stores, apartment buildings, churches, laundromats. The raids have led to constant terror for the immigrant workers and families who rebuilt the city we live in and love. The blatantly unconstitutional nature of the raids led to a Congressional inquiry and front-page coverage in the New York Times. Yet ICE continues to rely on them to meet its massive deportation quotas.
On a Saturday morning earlier this summer, I joined a group of immigrant rights activists under a canopy of tall trees in Lower Manhattan. We were preparing to form a human chain around a federal immigration courthouse to protest the unbridled deportations tearing immigrant families apart. Our action was held in tandem with coordinated efforts occurring that day around the nation. Hundreds of people began to amass: Latino families with their children, workers still in uniform from the night shift, Korean grandmothers with matching visors, youth activists known as “Dreamers,” and a church group. The organizers were from Palestine, Mexico and Sri Lanka. I saw many familiar faces. Together, members of this group had taken caravans of buses together to march with tens of thousands of supporters in Washington, D.C.; we had faced arrest at civil disobedience actions; we had canvassed New York’s five boroughs; and we had fasted for weeks in the shadow of the Capital. There were many members of the press and few police. We all understood what was at stake: It was June 28, one year and a day since the Senate had passed an immigration reform bill that Congress had since failed to act upon. The window for potential reform was growing narrower by the day.
Police said 112 demonstrators intentionally had themselves arrested outside the White House Thursday in protest against the Obama administration’s response to the sudden surge of illegal immigrants across the border with Mexico. The protest took place as Republican leaders withdrew legislation aimed at the immigration crisis from consideration in the U.S. House. The act of civil disobedience was organized mostly by religious groups, including the Catholic Sisters of Mercy and the United Methodist Church. Several hundred additional supporters looked on as the activists staged a sit-in on the sidewalk outside the White House grounds, prompting National Park Service police to remove and arrest them for obstructing foot traffic in a highly choreographed, but peaceful, demonstration. “We are gathered here to make our voices heard,” the Rev. John McCollough said in a prayer service before the arrests. “We are here to pray for this president, our President Obama, to ask him to lose the bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Si se puede!” The demonstrators demanded the Obama administration cease the deportation of an estimated 1,100 of those illegal immigrants per day — a number expected to rise as the federal government grapples with the hundreds of thousands believed to have slipped through in the last nine months, and a 106 percent increase over the same period last year.
As the Department of Homeland Security tries to deliver busloads of Central American children and families to places of temporary safety, shrieking demonstrators in California, Arizona, and other states are barring the way and demanding these kids be dumped over the border. These outbursts resemble the ugly mentality that, in 1939, prompted our government to send a ship with more than 900 German Jews aboard back to Europe where many were eventually killed by the Nazis. Like them, many of the Central American children will be murdered if they are returned home. That’s what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees concluded after interviewing hundreds of these kids. “The M-18 gang told me if I returned to school, I wouldn’t make it home alive,” said a 17-year-old boy identified as Alfonso. “I was threatened by a gang. In El Salvador, they take young girls, rape them and throw them in plastic bags,” said 15-year-old Maritza. Like Alfonso, she fled to the United States. Our government has apprehended more than 50,000 children so far. Protestors objecting to their arrival call them “invaders,” but these kids are refugees. They travel here on their own out of desperation — to escape murder, rape and conscription into gangs. And the United States bears much responsibility for the violence they’re fleeing.
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.