By Franco Ordoñez in McClatchy DC – Olivia López thought she’d be working with migrant mothers and children in a group-home setting when hired as a social worker at a Texas family detention center. But when she arrived at the concrete facility and the doors were unlocked to let her in, she was startled by the cacophony of cell doors clanging. “I walked in and thought, ‘oh my Lord, this is really a prison,’” she said. In an exclusive interview with McClatchy, López shared an inside perspective of troubling operations at the Karnes County Residential Center, which has been at the center of controversy over the Obama administration’s family detention policy. She described a facility where guards isolated mothers and children in medical units, nurses falsified medical reports, staff members were told to lie to federal officials and a psychologist acted as an informant for federal agents.
By Reuters. Maricopa County, AZ – A Federal judge on Friday ordered U.S. marshals to seize documents from the office of controversial Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio as part of an ongoing racial profiling case. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued the order at an emergency hearing he convened after a court-appointed monitor reported that the sheriff’s office had failed to turn over information being sought in connection with the case. In a brief order, Snow required that 1,459 identifications apparently taken from people by sheriff’s deputies during law enforcement actions and which were about to be destroyed be produced for federal marshals. The judge also ordered that computer hard drives, documents and other materials related to an investigation involving the judge by a confidential informant be given to marshals by the end of the day on Friday.
By Elise Foley for the Huffington Post – Hundreds of immigration advocates, some of them undocumented, waited hours outside a New Orleans courthouse on Friday as a federal appeals panel heard arguments on President Barack Obama’s deportation relief. And now they must wait as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit decides whether the deportation relief programs can go into effect even as a lawsuit from 26 states seeks to block them. The advocates expect to wait some more if the appeals court ruling doesn’t go their way — they think it won’t, given the soundly conservative records of two of the three judges on the panel — or even if it does. However the decision comes down, one side or the other will likely appeal to the Supreme Court. The deportation reprieve that Obama promised by executive action in November, which was set to begin this spring, isn’t coming anytime soon. Still, undocumented immigrants went to New Orleans to show they haven’t lost faith that it will come eventually.
By Various in CIP Americas – This summer, Congress will decide whether to support the $1 billion aid package to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. Prompted by the surge of children and family to the US’s southern border last year, the “Strategy for Engagement in Central America” aims to attack the ‘root causes’ of unauthorized migration. Promoted by Vice-President Biden, the plan has been endorsed by commentators across the political spectrum. Biden’s plan would invest in border security, law enforcement, economic development, and the UN’s new human rights initiatives in the region. These measures will purportedly keep Central Americans at home, busy with new jobs in safer communities under more transparent, responsive governments. At the same time, tighter border enforcement is intended to discourage migration.
By Geoff Gilbert in Waging NonViolence – The young black and brown activists descended on Nashville to stand together in resistance against the policies that criminalize them — policing practices that have the effect of racial and socio-economic profiling, like “broken windows” policies; excessive drug sentences and drug enforcement in low-income communities; the systematic separation of immigrant families made more efficient by the post-9/11 creation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security; and the perverse social incentives created by increasing privatization of prisons and detention centers. “Criminalization of young people of color has different guises, but it’s all the same,” said Malaya Davis, an organizer with the Ohio Student Association, or OSA. “[Our] demand was just for the governors to somehow acknowledge our presence and statements.”
By Jennicet Gutiérrez in Washington Blade – Pride celebrations of the LGBTQ community are taking place throughout the nation. The community takes great pride in celebrating our diversity and the progress we have made throughout the years. However, for the immigrant LGBTQ community progress has not been fully realized because of the continuous discrimination and violence we face in our daily lives. I was fortunate to be invited to the White House to listen to President Obama’s speech recognizing the LGBTQ community and the progress being made. But while he spoke of ‘trans women of color being targeted,’ his administration holds LGBTQ and trans immigrants in detention. I spoke out because our issues and struggles can no longer be ignored.
By RT – Some 5,000 activists in Berlin rallied in front of Reichstag and dug at least one hundred graves to express their solidarity with asylum seekers, who have died trying to reach Europe after fleeing war and persecution in their home countries. The rally was organized by the Center for Political Beauty; a group, which says it wants to “re-transform Europe into a continent of immigration.” The organization used the controversial slogan: “The Dead Are Coming,” while they have also made art works to spread their message. The protest, which took place a day after UN World Refugee Day, gathered at least 5,000 people, according to police estimates. An officer told AFP that a “small number” of people were arrested for minor offences. The activists, many of them dressed in black, carried improvised coffins, which apparently symbolize the caskets of asylum seekers who have died while trying to make their way to Europe.
By Phil Benson in KPHO – More than 200 immigrant detainees launched a hunger strike Saturday at the Eloy Detention Center. At 9:45 a.m., the men sat down in the recreation yard and declared a hunger strike over what they call brutal and inhumane conditions, according to grassroots justice organization Puente Arizona. Protesters stood outside the detention facility all day Saturday, holding signs to show their solidarity with the strikers. The group said it is demanding improved conditions, access to legal resources and court hearings and an independent investigation into two recent deaths after what it calls “guard abuse.” “The deaths of these two men has triggered outrage of people that have nothing but their bodies as a way to demand justice,” supporter Francisca Porchas said.
Protesters from a small Arizona town staged a demonstration at a nearby border checkpoint early on May 27 to express their opposition to its presence as well as the discriminatory and racist practices of Border Patrol. “If I was with a ‘brown’ person, I’m stopped. If I’m by myself, I’m a honkey, and I go right through,” protester Susan Thorpe told News 4 Tucson. “That makes me very sad to see what’s happened to my country.” About 100 people from the town of Arivaca, Arizona made their way to the temporary Border Patrol checkpoint on Arivaca Road, about 50 miles southwest of Tucson, at around 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Starting Monday, the United States’ human rights record will be subject to international scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council. It may just be the perfect catalyst for the Obama administration to make good on past and present wrongs that should never be associated with a liberal democracy predicated on respect for human rights. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is part of a regular examination of the human rights records of all 193 U.N. member countries and will be the second review of its kind for the U.S. since 2010. The review comes at a critical time when the U.S. human rights record has been criticized for falling short of meeting international human rights standards. From racially biased policing and excessive use of force by law enforcement to the expansion of migrant family detention and from the lack of accountability for the CIA torture program to the use of armed drones abroad, the U.S. has a lot to answer for.
Three Central American mothers who participated in hunger strikes at the Karnes prison camp in Texas have filed suit in a federal court against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldaña and staffers with the private prison company running the immigrant-family prison on behalf of dozens of women who went on hunger strike or acted in solidarity with the strikers in two separate protests in April. Delmy Cruz, Polyane Oliveira and Lilian Rosado argue in a complaint filed last week that they were unjustly retaliated against for protesting their incarceration and the reportedly deplorable conditions inside the Karnes County Residential Center, operated by the private prison company GEO Group.
Three immigrant women who say they were punished for joining a hunger strike in a Texas family detention center on Thursday sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and GEO Group, the company that operates the facility. The lawsuit, filed in federal court against ICE Director Sarah Saldaña and personnel at the Karnes County Residential Center, seeks to prohibit ICE and GEO from putting women and their children in isolation as punishment for protesting, and from threatening to separate mothers from their children. “All we’re asking is that under the First Amendment, for ICE officials and GEO officials to stop retaliating against the women and allow them to peacefully protest,” said Ranjana Natarajan, an attorney with the University of Texas Civil Rights Clinic, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the women.
Stewart County Superior Court Judge James Sizemore dismissed all charges against human rights activists Anton Flores, Jason MsGaughey, Kevin Caron, Maureen Fitzsimmons and Rebecca Kanner. The five had been arrested on Saturday, November 22, 2014, during the November Vigil weekend in Georgia, as they crossed the line onto Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) property to call for the closure of Stewart Detention Center. Owned and operated by the Corrections Corportation of America (CCA), Stewart is one of the largest private, for-profit immigrant detention facility in the US, warehousing approximately 1,800 men. Through their peaceful action, the Stewart 5 were prepared to speak about the inhumane conditions that exist there, while at the same time raising public awareness about the racist immigration policies that allow places like Stewart to exist. To speak truth to power and to use the courtroom to put Stewart Detention Center on trial, our friends traveled long distances, from Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan; Washington, DC; Atlanta and LaGrange, Georgia.
About 40 women being held at the privately-run Karnes Family Detention Center in southern Texas launched a hunger strike this week to demand their release and the release of their families, vowing on Tuesday not to eat, work, or use the services at the facility until they are freed. Nearly 80 women being held at the center, many of whom are said to be asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, signed aletter stating that they have all been refused bond despite having established a credible fear of violence if they are sent back to Central America—a key factor in the U.S. government’s process for screening detained immigrants to allow them amnesty.
A march organized by sympathizers of a Europe-based anti-Islam, anti-immigration group called PEGIDA was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of people showed up to protest against PEGIDA itself. The self-described leader of the relatively new PEGIDA Québec chapter, Jean-François Asgard, told Radio-Canada that “Islam needs to reform itself or leave the West.” Jaggi Singh of the No One Is Illegal activist group helped organize Saturday’s counter-protest. Hundreds of people toting signs denouncing racism and Islamophobia arrived 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the PEGIDA march, set to take place in a largely Muslim community in Montreal called Little Maghreb.