Category Archives: Immigration/Migration

New video on borders & migration: “We Are One”

In July 2009, I met a group of French filmmakers from Marseilles at a border wall event at the Centro Cultural de la Raza.  The filmmakers–Romain de l’Ecotais, Maxime Rostan and Guillaume Vidal–had been traveling for weeks through Latin America & Mexico, documenting border walls and migrations in the Americas.  In San Diego, they traversed the border with Enrique Morones of Border Angels, and visited the cemetery for migrants in Holtville and later took a tour down to Friendship Park.

Today they sent me a link to their video, titled We Are One, a King Size Trip Production, with music by Watcha Clan.


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Border residents oppose calls for deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border

San Diego organizations join a borderwide network



Contact:
Ricardo Favela
Strategic Communications Coordinator

San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium
(760) 468-4519
communicate@immigrantsandiego.org.

Louie Gilot
Policy Director, Border Network for Human Rights
2115 N. Piedras, El Paso, TX 79930
(915) 274-0541
lgilot@bnhr.org.

May 26, 2010 — Organizations representing border communities from San Diego to Brownsville have written a letter to the Obama Administration and federal legislators strongly opposing the decision to send the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. The organizations believe the deployment is ill-conceived and motivated by electoral politics rather than focused on the needs of border communities.

“While DC politicians like to paint the border as a war zone, the reality is that it is one of the safest areas of the country. Crime is down. Even immigration flows are down. The only emergency here is a political one,” said Pedro Rios, with the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego, one of the signatories to the letter.

However, the militarization of the border is not without consequences for the communities who live there. Economies are choked by inefficient border crossings, civil rights are pushed aside, and quality of life is seriously diminished. Worse, community safety is being sacrificed by those who believe that soldiers trained for war belong near family neighborhoods or should be involved in enforcing civilian laws. We cannot forget that in 1997, U.S. Marines sent to secure the border, shot and killed a teenage U.S. citizen who was peacefully herding goats.

“We are frustrated and disappointed by the Obama Administration because this strategy is a recipe for disaster. This militarization will further alienate border communities and jeopardize the success of border security goals and the fight against real criminal threats,” said Fernando Garcia, Executive Director for the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas, who also signed the letter.

It is time to rethink our border policy. Increasing the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border does not enhance our national security, but in fact undermines it by misallocating resources. Humane border policies should emphasize quality law enforcement resources on real threats in the region, while protecting the rights and well-being of border residents.

Read the full letter which follows the media advisory.

The organizations who signed the letter are: American Friends Service Committee (CA); San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (CA); San Diego Foundation for Change (CA); Border Action Network (AZ); First Christian Church of Tucson (AZ); ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights (NM); Border Network for Human Rights (TX); Immigrant Justice Alliance (TX); Freedom Ambassadors (TX); U.S.-Mexico Border and Immigration Task Force; Casa de Proyecto Libertad (TX); and Project Puente (TX).

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To: President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

To: Members of the U.S. Congress
Washington, DC

Border residents oppose calls for deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border

Border communities who had hoped for a rational and accountable border policy from the Obama Administration are deeply disappointed at the news of the authorization to deploy National Guard troops to the border. We are also deeply disappointed by calls from Congress to deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to the border.

Proposals to deploy the National Guard are ill-conceived and motivated by electoral politics rather than border realities. In the course of history, presidents have rarely called up the National Guard. Deployment of these forces has almost always been limited to emergency situations and for good reason. The creation of a national police force is anathema to our fundamental values and to the protection of individual liberties.

As men and women living in the border region, which includes metropolitan areas as well as small towns, we have tried time and again to share our concerns about the militarization of the region with members of the Administration and members of Congress. But it seems we are not being heard and the policies of this Administration, far from being the change that we were promised, mirror the policies of the prior Administration and may even be worse with respect to border enforcement.

To be clear, there is no emergency at the border that would warrant the deployment of the National Guard. Immigration flows are down and border cities are among the safest in the country. Violent crime is rare and when it does happen, as in the case of the Arizona rancher who was recently killed, the perpetrator is more likely to be a citizen than an immigrant. The only “emergency” is the political emergency of upcoming elections.

As residents of the border region, we refuse to allow our communities and our quality of life to be sacrificed in a political game played far away from this region by people with little appreciation for the vibrancy of the region and who are motivated by politics rather than actual border needs. We consider the deployment of the National Guard an affront to border communities and oppose the militarization of our region based on the following:

• The militarization of our border has already reached an extreme level and brought with it negative consequences for those who live there. Our economies are choked by inefficient border crossings, our civil rights are pushed aside, and our quality of life is seriously diminished. Worse, our safety is being sacrificed by those who believe that soldiers trained for war belong near family neighborhoods or should be involved in supporting domestic law enforcement. Let’s not forget that in 1997, U.S. Marines sent to help secure the border, mistakenly shot and killed a teenage U.S. citizen who was peacefully herding goats.

• Militarization is a misguided and unnecessary response that is not based in reality or in the opinions of President Obama’s own border experts. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said repeatedly that her Border Patrol agents have operational control of the border. Crime statistics in border cities and counties show that crime is both low and decreasing. Yet, we are being told once again that we must secure the border, just three years after we built a border wall, added thousands of new Border Patrol agents and deployed virtual enforcement technology.

• Militarization costs us all. Continuing to throw money, resources and military responses at the border is not fiscally responsible, efficient, or humane. The ever mounting costs of militarizing the border are costs borne by taxpayers who can ill afford ineffective and ill-conceived political responses.

• Recourse to the military as a policy option for civilian law enforcement is a disturbing precedent. Forces trained for combat, should not be used for enforcing civil laws. As a matter of fundamental U.S. political values, the military should be withdrawn from all normal law enforcement activities, even in supporting roles.
It is time to rethink our border policy. Increasing the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border does not enhance our national security, but in fact undermines it by misallocating resources. Humane border policies should emphasize quality law enforcement, and the effective focus of resources on real threats in the region, while ensuring that border communities are consulted on their specific needs, and that the rights and well-being of border residents are protected and upheld. Toward this end, we need the following:

• Consultation with local border communities on a regular basis about border enforcement; decisions about the border should not be made in a vacuum in D.C.

• More accountability and oversight of immigration enforcement officers, who have become the largest law enforcement presence in the border region.

• A standardized complaint process that aggregates complaints the length of the border should be implemented to better understand potential abuse of power and civil and human rights violations. Enforcement agencies should publicize this data and then use appropriate performance measures to correct gaps in current or ongoing training.

• Increased funding for ports of entry to facilitate the flow of legitimate goods and people authorized to work, visit or contribute to the nation’s economy.

• Compliance with environmental protection laws without exceptions for the border; we deserve the same protections as the rest of the country.

• Compliance with national and international civil and human rights protections, and creation of humane detention and short-term custody standards at the border.

• A zero-migrant-death standard that is incorporated into enforcement policies and practices and addresses the mounting death toll—over 5,000—of migrants who lose their lives as a result of inhumane enforcement strategies.

• Comprehensive immigration reform that moves beyond enforcement and focuses on fixing the interconnected parts of our broken immigration system.

• Economic development for Mexico, our second largest trading partner and primary source of immigration; a stronger Mexican economy would benefit both countries economically and ease migration pressures.

The federal government is as responsible for protecting the lives and well being of border residents as it is of protecting residents of the interior of the United States. Unfortunately, border residents have borne the burden of national security under the current hard-line strategy, but can do so no more. We oppose the deployment of the National Guard to the border as a misguided political response, and we urge our national leaders to pursue real solutions to border enforcement that take into account the needs of the border region.

Signed:
American Friends Service Committee (CA)
San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (CA)
San Diego Foundation for Change (CA)
Border Action Network (AZ)
First Christian Church of Tucson (AZ)
ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights (NM)
Border Network for Human Rights (TX)
Immigrant Justice Alliance (TX)
Freedom Ambassadors (TX)
Casa de Proyecto Libertad (TX)
Project Puente (TX)

200 Orgs Call for Suspension of Immigration Enforcement for Census 2010


March 9, 2010

Over 200 organizations appeal to President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to Suspend Immigration Enforcement Activities for Census 2010

Encouraging hard-to-count populations to participate in the Census means reducing the climate of fear and distrust in immigrant communities

Oakland, CA | As Census 2010 gears up to count all residents in the United States, immigrants are at risk of being undercounted due to the climate of fear and distrust stemming from immigration raids and other enforcement actions. With Census forms due to arrive in all households in the coming week, more than 200 concerned organizations nationwide have joined with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to ask President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano to halt enforcement activities for the Census. Not only are many immigrants not familiar with the Census, but many households will be reluctant to return their Census forms or talk with outreach workers for fear of detection if they or someone in their home is undocumented.

The letter asks the Administration to “follow precedent” to suspend enforcement activities, including the “287g” program that facilitates local police involvement in immigration enforcement. In 1990 and 2000, steps were taken to suspend numerous enforcement actions. However, with the peak activities for the Census just around the corner, the Administration has not yet announced any significant action.

While the purpose of the census is to count everyone residing in the United States, immigrants, along with a number of other population groups, have been historically undercounted. However, with the distribution of some $400 billion in federal funds at stake to support infrastructure and services based on population, an inaccurate count of immigrants will have an impact on all areas of the country.

The letter cites more than a dozen immigration enforcement programs. ” As you know, enforcement activities have reached an unprecedented breadth and depth, resulting in higher numbers of detentions and deportations than even the past Administration, and utilizing strategies that are less visible than raids but well known and feared in immigrant communities throughout the country.”

According to NNIRR Executive Director Catherine Tactaquin, “While many community-based organizations are working to support the Census effort, we are genuinely concerned that the climate of fear will seriously impact the census form return rate of immigrant households — and if people do not return the form, they will be reluctant to open the door to a follow-up visit from a Census worker.” She continued, “We believe it is the right of every person to be counted in the Census, but we really need the leadership of the Administration right now to make a difference in the success of the Census among our diverse immigrant populations.”

Despite the benefits being counted brings to communities, immigrants are among several communities known to be significantly undercounted by the Census; in New York City, heavily-immigrant areas have had less than a 40 percent census response rate, compared to the citywide average response of 65 percent.

The letter also notes that, “Numerous officials have themselves expressed grave concerns about the challenges faced in convincing immigrants to participate due to persistent enforcement activity by the same government now seeking their information. Immigrants have raised doubts about the confidentiality of the Census. While officials have repeatedly stated that the information obtained will not be shared with other departments, immigrants well recall similar assurances about the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service; today, the data obtained from these agencies has provided the fuel for many of this Administration’s enforcement operations. ”

For a copy of the full letter to President Obama and DHS, please go to: Letter to Obama

For more detailed information and resources please go to NNIRR’s We ALL Count-Census 2010 Campaign

Contact.:

Arnoldo Garcia (510) 928-0685 agarcia@nnirr.org

Catherine Tactaquin (510) 459-4457 ctactaquin@nnirr.org

>Mahmoud Darwish laid to rest with highest state honors today in Ramallah

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By Jill Holslin

Identity Card

Put it on record.
I am an Arab.
And the number of my card is fifty thousand.
I have eight children
And the ninth is due after summer.
What’s there to be angry about?

Put it on record.
I am an Arab.
Working with comrades of toil in a quarry.
I have eight children
For them I wrest the loaf of bread,
The clothes and exercise books
From the rocks
And beg for no alms at your door.
Lower not myself at your doorstep.
What’s there to be angry about?

Put it on record.
I am an Arab.
I am a name without a title,
Patient in a country where everything
Lives in a whirlpool of anger.
My roots
Took hold before the birth of time
Before the burgeoning of the ages,
Before cypress and olive trees,
Before the proliferation of weeds.

My father is from the family of the plough
Not from highborn nobles
And my grandfather was a peasant
Without line or geneaology.
My house is a watchman’s hut
Made of sticks and reeds.
Does my status satisfy you?
I am a name without a surname.

Put it on record.
I am an Arab.
Color of my hair: jet black.
Color of my eyes: brown.
My distinguishing features:
On my head the ‘iqal cords over a keffiyeh
Scratching him who touches it.
My address:
I’m from a village, remote, forgotten,
Its streets without name
And all its men in the fields and quarry.
What’s there to be angry about?

Put it on record.
I am an Arab.
You stole my forefather’s vineyards
And land I used to till,
I am all my children,
And you left us and all my grandchildren
Nothing but these rocks.
Will your government be taking them too
As is being said?

So!
Put it on record at the top of page one:
I don’t hate people,
I trespass on no one’s property.
And yet, if I were to become hungry
I shall eat the flesh of my usurper.
Beware, beware of my hunger
And of my anger!

(translated from the Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies)

Mahmoud Darwish, who passed away yesterday, August 12, at the age of 67 in a Houston hospital from complications after open-heart surgery, articulated the mixture of longing and anger felt by the now millions of Palestinians displaced from their homeland and left stateless during and in the generations after the Nakbah, establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. As noted by his friend Jumana Al Tamimi, “Mahmoud Darwish provided a cultural identity for generations of Palestinians deprived of freedom.”

Yet, Darwish’s words speak more universally to the estimated 150 million migrant workers worldwide whose daily lives are marked by the struggle to negotiate and produce new cultural meaning, identities and legal statuses within new transnational capitalist networks being formed by globalization.

Mahmoud Darwish spoke eloquently of the human condition, and his is a voice that will surely be missed as we continue to navigate the rough terrain of late capitalism.

>The Pinky Show: How to Solve Illegal Immigration

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