• Slide-1
    Educating Haitian youth about reforestation and sustainable farming.
  • Slide-2
    We serve those in need by working to build a world that loves more justly.
  • Slide-3
    Providing homes for families to combat the housing crisis in Nicaragua.

Solidarity and Friendship

A gathering of people who work and pray with laughter and who reach for the stars that seem too distant to be touched, or too dim to be worth the effort. We try to be friends with people in need and to celebrate life with people who believe that the struggle to be like Jesus in building a world more justly loving is worth the gift of our lives.

What We Do

Quest for Peace

Quest for Peace

Building homes for Nicaragua's poor.
Haiti Reborn

Haiti Reborn

Reforesting and revitalizing for the future.
InAlienable

InAlienable

Pursuing an inclusive vision of citizenship.
Catholics Speak Out

Catholics Speak Out

Working for a more inclusive Church.
Activist in Residence

Activist in Residence

Check out our new Activist in Residence Program.

Latest Blog Posts

Daily Dispatch 6/19/2019

Juneteenth and the ongoing struggle for justice

Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!

InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

June 18, 2019



154 years ago today, a union general announced to a group of enslaved people on Galveston Island, Texas that they were free. The Civil War had ended two months earlier; the Emancipation Proclamation issued two years earlier. But June 19, 1865 has been celebrated as Emancipation Day since.

Lauren Jones reflects on this history in the Quixote Center blog today. In “Juneteenth, Why we still Fight for Freedom,” she points to the interconnected struggles for justice:

This is why in the midst of our celebrating, Juneteenth should remind us that we still have a long way to go when it comes to “justice for all,” and we should continue to be vigilant in our fight for justice. The hope is to see a country where all of its citizens are truly free and those seeking refuge are offered the opportunity to experience this freedom as well.

Also drawing the connection between the celebration of emancipation and the call for justice today is Van Newkirk II, writing in The Atlantic.

In 2019, Juneteenth will be celebrated as emancipation was in the old days: with calls for reparations. As the country marks 154 years since news of the end of slavery belatedly came to Texas, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the subject of reparations for black Americans. It is a watershed moment in the larger debate over American policy and memory with regard to an enduring sin.

The hearing is a discussion of the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. The hearing will examine, the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice. Legislation to create this commission was first introduced by John Conyers in 1989, and in every Congressional session since, but it has not seen much movement. Ta-Nahesi Coates, who will testify today, is perhaps most associated with re-energizing the discussion on reparations. His piece in The Atlantic’s June 2014 issue, The Case for Reparations, became their most widely shared article. For an alternative take on the debate on reparations, from a left perspective, see Cedric Johnson’s “Reparations isn’t a Political Demand”, in Jacobin.

Trump threatens expanded enforcement and deportations

President Trump is threatening mass enforcement actions to round up and deport “millions” of unauthorized immigrants in the United States in the coming week. Immigration and Customs Enforcement seemed unaware of any plan: “ICE said on Tuesday that it will continue to conduct “routine targeted enforcement operations” and referred questions about Trump’s tweets to the White House.”

Whether more Trump bluster, or not, the threat is having its intended consequence: Suck up all of the media air on immigration and generate fear among communities throughout the United States.

To be clear, the United States is now incarcerating over 53,000 people on any given day in adult immigrant detention facilities, approaching 14,000 in child detention facilities, and 2,000 in family detention. The administration is already over budget on detention, and thus has no ability to actually detain hundreds of thousands of people and offer any kind of due process concerning claims about immigration status on that scale. That said, there may well be several high profile enforcement actions in the coming weeks.

Trump’s war on immigration is about to step up. Are we ready?

Presidential candidates talk to the New York Times about immigration

The New York Times published a series of interviews with Democrats vying for the nomination for president. The video interviews cover a range of topics, here you can see their views on the question, “Do you think illegal immigration is a major problem for the United States?” Few of the candidates answered the question directly.

We’re wondering why the New York Times didn’t ask, “Is incarcerating tens of thousands of people each day for seeking a new life in the United States a major problem for the United States?”  Or, “Are mass arrests and threatened deportations of millions of people already living here a major problem for the United States?” Maybe in the next round of questions.

Juneteenth and Why We Keep Fighting for Freedom
Courtesy of Shutterstock

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers in Galveston Bay, Texas informed enslaved Blacks that they were free – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Known as “Juneteenth,” African Americans celebrate this day as the end of chattel slavery. Although emancipation was a major step in the freedom of Blacks in America, little did they know the challenges awaiting them during Reconstruction and the “Jim Crow” era. African Americans had no education, no resources, no voting rights and suffered under unjust systems such as the “Black Codes” and the sharecropping system, which ensured that workers would never profit from their land. Vigilante terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan sprung up to enforce the codes, and lynching skyrocketed. If African Americans violated the law, they were sentenced to forced labor and rented out to private companies by the state. Doesn’t sound much different from today’s prison industrial complex, does it?  

Juneteenth is a reminder that although African Americans are technically free, they still suffer under similar unjust systems, the most damaging, I believe, to be the prison industrial complex. Here are some facts from the NAACP’s “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet”:

  • In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34 percent, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
  • African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.
  • The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women.
  • Nationwide, African American children represent 32 percent of children who are arrested, 42 percent of children who are detained, and 52 percent of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court.
  • Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32 percent of the U.S. population, they comprised 56 percent of all incarcerated people in 2015.
  • If African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40 percent.

There is nothing new under sun, and we see the U.S. government enacting the same tactics it has used against freed African Americans against immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States. Migrant detention and family separation are very reminiscent of the atrocities African Americans faced after emancipation. Immigrants have emerged as another “criminal class,” and the president’s racist rhetoric fuels this notion. We all remember Trump’s “shithole countries” comments.  

This is why in the midst of our celebrating, Juneteenth should remind us that we still have a long way to go when it comes to “justice for all,” and we should continue to be vigilant in our fight for justice. The hope is to see a country where all of its citizens are truly free and those seeking refuge are offered the opportunity to experience this freedom as well.

For more information:

PBS: What is Juneteenth?
Smithsonian: National Museum of African American History and Culture
American Immigration Council: The Criminalization of Immigration in the United States

Daily Dispatch 6/18/2019

The Mexico Deal: What really matters

Read more about InAlienable.
Support Quixote Center’s InAlienable program!

InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

June 18, 2019

Listening to Trump explain one of his achievements reminds me a lot of listening to my son read the lyrics to the Beatles’ “I am the Walrus.” Something about the meter and the fact that what is being said makes no sense. And so, no surprise, that the “deal” with Mexico was not so much a deal, in reality, but more of an agreement to talk about a future agreement, at a later date, maybe in 45 days. Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come. I’m crying.  Goo, goo, goo, g’joob. See how that works…

From the text of the letter representatives from the U.S. and Mexico actually signed:

The United States and Mexico will immediately begin discussions to establish definitive terms for a binding bilateral agreement to further address burden sharing and the assignment of responsibility for processing refugee status claims of migrants.

The art of the deal indeed…

However, even if the much touted “deal” is not much of a deal, Trump still got concessions from Mexico through threatening tariffs that will prove disastrous for migrants. This is the media magic of Trump. Somehow the things that really matter get lost in the analysis of Trump’s veracity and the indignity that ensues when he takes credit for an achievement not nearly as “huge” as he claims.  

So, what matters:

Mexico really did commit to send more guardsmen to its border with Guatemala – 6,000 in total. That Mexico was already engaged in its own crack down on migration at the border – one that expanded greatly in 2014 in response to refugees from Central America – has been lost in this discussion. Which is to say, the massive deployment envisioned will be a human rights nightmare if current practices are any measure.

Speaking of human rights, the Mexican government arrested and detained two human rights activists, Cristóbal Sánchez and Irineo Mujica, in the midst of the bilateral discussion who had been vocal in criticizing the treatment of Central American migrants. Both were released after a campaign from the Alliance for Global Justice and others to press for their release. The arrests were clearly seen as an effort to intimidate activists speaking out in defense of migrants – and a step taken under pressure from the Trump administration.

The head of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, Tonatiuh Guillén resigned on Friday, to be replaced by the head of Mexico’s national prison system. Much as Trump has been cleaning house at the Department of Homeland Security to bring in hard-liners, Mexico seems to be doing the same.

Of the items discussed in the joint declaration last week, and the supporting document released by the government of Mexico (to make clear there was no “secret deal” as Trump claimed), the most controversial part is Mexico being designated as a “safe third country.” Such a designation would require that refugees crossing into Mexico would have to first apply for asylum there, even if their intent was to come to the United States. This would require action by Mexico’s legislature, and it is not clear this will be accepted.

For now, Trump is still enforcing the “remain in Mexico” practice of requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their asylum cases can be heard by immigration authorities on the U.S. side of the border. The process is moving very slowly, leaving thousands of people waiting for a chance to file their claim formally in the United States. Following the announced agreement, Trump extended the practice to cover the entire U.S./Mexico border. This led to 10,000 Central American refugees being returned to Mexico by U.S. authorities to await asylum hearings. Part of the joint declaration, the only real commitment the United States made, is a promise to speed up the asylum process.

So, yes Trump exaggerated the extent of his deal with Mexico. But let’s be clear, he got what he wanted, at least thus far. Mexico is upscaling its crackdown on immigration under pressure from the United States. This will be a disaster for refugees seeking passage through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States. That human rights disaster should be much bigger news than Trump inflating his accomplishment.

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