Inspirational and Influential Women of the World: Dolly Pomerleau Part II

Dolly Pomerleau was one of the pioneers who founded the Quixote Center in 1975. She and Bill Callahan launched this justice work with a strong commitment to social justice in both civil society and within the Catholic Church. In both arenas, that justice included changing structures to establish the equality of women and men. Dolly was utterly committed to that and all the other projects and ideals to which the Center committed itself over the years. 

She was a Co-Director of the Center from the start… shaping the vision and helping launch many different projects. From the beginning, she advocated feminist ideals and full gender equality, making sure these values were a part of every aspect of life at the Center. 

And in 1975, she was one of the pioneering women who founded the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), the organization that has been a leader in the quest for women’s equality in the Roman Catholic Church for more than 40 years. The Quixote Center has long worked in coalition with WOC.  

Over the years, Dolly worked on a variety of projects at the Quixote Center, including Catholics Speak Out, which emphasized the crying need for gender equality and an expanded role for lay decision-making in the Church.

Photo from The Catholic Connection, October 1976.

She is a strong advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and was one of several women who chained themselves to the front door of the Republican National Committee when that party took the ERA out of its platform. The group was there for a full day in the hot sun, attracting a wide range of onlookers, including Republican women inside the building, many of whom were at their windows, pointedly expressing support for the action with hand signals, flag waving, and the like. 

Dolly is also committed to rectifying injustices of any kind where her actions might make a difference. She protested US attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in the 1980’s, helping to establish the Quest for Peace project, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for Nicaragua over the years. This meant filling many cargo containers of aid that were shipped to that country regularly and sent to the Center’s partner organization, the Institute of John XXIII in Managua. The Institute then distributed the aid to the neediest parts of Nicaragua.  

Several times, Dolly visited that country and travelled with Ketxu Amezua of the Institute to see the many and impressive projects that were underway as a result of help from the Quixote Center. Her fluency in Spanish was an enormous help in all this work. 

In the United States, Dolly was never shy about protesting US policy in Nicaragua, and one time was arrested in the rotunda of the US Capitol as part of a group that was kneeling to pray for an end to US actions against the Nicaraguan government. 

She also advocated for justice in Haiti when Aristide was the duly elected President, and she helped establish a new project at the Center called Haiti Reborn. 

Her values were broad. When some new staff people at the Quixote Center – Jane Henderson and Shari Silberstein – suggested a project aimed at ending the death penalty, Dolly (and the staff) endorsed it heartily. This project eventually spun off from the Center to become Equal Justice USA. 

And oh yes… Dolly is a native of the state of Maine – northern Maine near the Canadian border. Thus she is tri-lingual: English, French, and Spanish.   

Dolly has been a strong and fearless advocate for justice in both church and civil society. She may be retiring from the Quixote Center, but her words and her spirit will never retire! She will always be there! 

Maureen Fiedler

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Inspirational and Influential Women of the World: Dolly Pomerleau

Part VII of the Inspirational and Influential Women of the World Blog Series

“The only thing that has limited us in the past was our own fears.” – Dolly Pomerleau

We are ending the Inspirational and Influential Women of the World Blog Series with several installments honoring our fearless leader and co-founder, Dolly Pomerleau. I had the immense pleasure of working with and learning from Dolly this past year. I will forever admire her spunk, endless passion and conviction, as well as her ability to surround herself with people who want to make the world a better place.

In order to convey the inspiration and influence of Dolly Pomerleau, we must start with the story of the Quixote Center. In the mid 70’s, co-founder Bill Callahan worked at the Center of Concern, another justice-centered organization that took hold after Vatican II. Together, Dolly and Bill realized that none of the new and shiny nonprofits in promoting justice and social change in this vein were autonomous from the Church, which greatly limited their ability to work on the various problems within the Church and on issues that it opposed. It was then, in 1975, that these two radically progressive Catholics began hatching an idea to create their own social justice organization – the Quixote Center.

When discussing how the name ‘Quixote Center’ came to be, she recalls, “our goal was to work on issues of justice regardless of what people thought of us. Don Quixote did what he believed in and suffered the consequences. Quixote is someone with a lot of imagination, a little zaniness, sometimes not having good judgment in terms of societal standards, and willing to be called crazy. One of the hallmarks is laughter and a strong sense of community.”

In 1976, the Quixote Center officially opened with the goal of ruffling some feathers within the Catholic church, promoting equality, and fighting for the overlooked of society. Unsurprisingly, the Center sought out one of the most taboo issues they could find: women’s ordination. While working on women’s ordination Dolly became one of the founders of the Women’s Ordination Conference and a leader within the movement.

The Center continued to expand. As things began to erupt in Central America during the late 1970s, the Center turned its focus to the injustice and violence in the region. Dolly recalls, “We didn’t know what it would involve, but we knew it was a revolutionary time.” In 1980, the Center held a vigil for Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran Archbishop who was assassinated, and thus their work in Central America began. Dolly and Maureen Fiedler journeyed to Nicaragua, intrigued by Pope John Paul II’s disastrous visit, only to see the devastation and returned to the States thinking, “What can we do?”

In the hopes of educating the American public, Dolly and Maureen decided to publish a tabloid entitled Nicaragua: A Look at Reality, answering the basic questions about the Sandinista’s revolution and U.S. intervention. Within a year, the Center’s involvement grew and they began regularly shipping millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to the country, thanks in part to the fundraising work of Dolly.

Dolly transformed monotonous fundraising into community-building. She stated, “Turn people into constituents by giving them something to do – organize them politically, have them call legislators, organize cargo containers, etc. People were materially and physically invested in the Center’s programs.” Dolly invited people into the fold, creating not just supporters but friends – a Quixote family called by the Quixote spirit to enact radical social change and promote peace.

The Center has collected a wide array of issues and continues to pick up new ones up along the way. When speaking with Dolly she told me, “The Center hasn’t tended to rush to the popular issues,” instead taking on the passion of the employees, ranging from the elimination of the death penalty to inclusive citizenship.

As I sit and talk to Dolly she has a smile on her face. She reminiscences, “The most creative and productive time was in the ‘80s, and the work of Quest for Peace. There was national organizing, lobbying against Congress, aid sent to Nicaragua – just an incredible era. They were the best years of the Center for me.” Dolly’s hope for the Center is that it will continue to grow in size and allow the current programs to thrive.

After 42 years, Dolly is retiring (for real this time) next week. Without her we would not have the Quixote Center, and for that we are ever grateful.

 

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Haiti News Update: Prime Minister Resigns and Update on Cholera Campaign

On Saturday, Haiti’s Prime Minister, Jack Guy Lafontant, resigned to avoid a formal vote of no-confidence. His resignation followed a week of conflict over proposed increases in fuel prices that had led to widespread protests. The price increases, cancelled following a day of protest in which three people were killed, would have been the direct result of the government removing subsidies for gasoline, diesel and kerosine. This step had been demanded by the International Monetary Fund before additional funds would be released to the government of Haiti.

Initial protests had called for the President Moises to step down. However, early last week the Private Sector Economic Forum, a coalition of major business interests, issued a call for the prime minister to step down instead. Taking on the tone of friends of the people of Haiti (to which one might be forgiven an eye roll or two), or is it simply friends of those who own property (it is not clear) their statement reads (reproduced from Haiti Libre summary here):

“The Economic Forum wishes to express its sincere sympathies to the victims of these acts of barbarism, detrimental to the social climate, the national image and our ability to attract private investment generating sustainable employment and economic prosperity.”

The Forum wishes to underline its conviction that “these acts largely reflect the high degree of frustration, even disarray” of the majority of our fellow citizens, faced the deterioration of their living conditions for many years. While deploring the fact, he considers, however, “that such frustration, however justified, can not excuse such an increase of violence, destruction and violation of the fundamental rights of the entire population.”

In addition, the Economic Forum “is astonished at the inaction characterized of the forces of order face this new and unacceptable overflow of delinquency, contrary to their mission of maintaining order and protecting lives and property.” He estimates that “this situation results above all from a lack of leadership by the highest authorities of the Haitian State, including the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and his Government. This is evidenced, among other things, by the apparent lack of planning of security measures that would logically precede the adoption of the drastic price adjustment measure for petroleum products decreed by the Government on 6 July 2018.

While taking note of the recent decision to withdraw this measure taken by the Executive Authority, “the Economic Forum is of the opinion that the President of the Republic should draw the logical conclusions of this deplorable situation and ask the Prime Minister to submit without delay his resignation and that of his Government, in order to offer a way out to the current political impasse.”

The Economic Forum was not the only entity seeking to boost its moral standing by, well, standing on the backs of the people who protested. As we noted in an earlier article, the underlying frustrations that spilled out into the streets run deeper than fuel prices – some at least aimed at the International Monetary Fund. At the United Nations, Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, noted that the IMF demands were guaranteed to lead to conflict:

The fund has consistently underestimated the importance of calibrating their recommendations to the specific political context, not taking into account the extent to which recommendations are politically viable and socially sustainable.

Strong words, and very true (we have also been writing about the crisis in Nicaragua, which is very different in scope, but was also sparked by the government’s effort to implement fiscal reforms demanded by the IMF). We applaud Alston’s insights. But we also hope Mr. Alston will also walk down the hall to speak to some of his other colleagues.

The United Nations is itself struggling (or at least being made to struggle) to come to terms with its own responsibility for the costs and consequences of the cholera epidemic introduced by UN peacekeepers in 2010. The Quixote Center signed onto a letter this week demanding the UN abide by the commitments it has made. From the press release:

Cholera was introduced to Haiti in 2010 through reckless waste management on a UN peacekeeping base. In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and immense public pressure, the UN finally acknowledged its role in the outbreak in 2016 and launched a $400-million-dollar plan – the “New Approach to Cholera in Haiti” – that aims to eradicate the epidemic and provide a victim assistance package. The UN pledged that its assistance package would represent “a concrete and sincere expression of the Organization’s regret” and presented two potential approaches to justice for victims: individual payments to affected households, and community projects, which would be decided upon through a process of victim consultation. Eighteen months on, under Secretary-General Guterres, the UN has increasingly retreated from these promises.

We are joining with the Institute of Justice and Democracy in Haiti, who has led this campaign in partnership with the Bureau of International Attorneys in Port au Prince, to raise awareness about the impact of the cholera epidemic and the UN’s obligation to make restitution.

 

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Tell Congress to Support Dialogue in Nicaragua, not Impose More Sanctions

House Resolution 981 calls on the U.S. government to more aggressively employ the Magnitsky Act as a means to sanction individual members of the Nicaraguan government, while also condemning violence in Nicaragua. The stated goal is to support democracy, but the text of the resolution is not based on a balanced accounting of what has transpired in the country over the last three months. If serious about supporting democracy in Nicaragua, Congress should support the process of dialogue and join with other international organizations in calling for “all political actors” to halt the violence and work toward a negotiated solution.

Contact your member of Congress and tell them to vote against H. Res 981, support the dialogue, and allow the people of Nicaragua to determine their future without the further intervention of the United States.

You can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224- 3121, or send an email directly to your representative using the Alliance for Global Justice’s email platform here.

Background

The House International Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere voted the Resolution out of Committee on July 12. It will be taken up by the full committee in the coming days before going to the House floor for a vote.

The Magnitsky Act is a mechanism that allows the Trump administration to level sanctions against individuals in other countries that it determines have violated human rights or have been involved in corruption. The Magnitsky Act was first employed in Nicaragua to apply sanctions against Roberto Rivas, head of the Supreme Electoral Council last year (he has since resigned). Last week further sanctions were announced against Francisco Diaz, deputy chief of the national police, Antonio Moreno Briones, secretary of the Managua mayor’s office, and Francisco Lopez, vice president of Albanisa (a joint venture between Nicaragua and Venezuela). The individuals sanctioned seem to have been targeted for the perception that they are close to Ortega – not because of specific incidents they are directly responsible for during the last three months of turmoil.

For the past three months, Nicaragua has been in the throes of a political crisis unlike anything witnessed since the 1980s. While the spark for protests in April was an announced reform of the social security system, violence over the next several days led to the deaths of nearly 50 people. Though investigations of the violence make clear that police were not acting unilaterally – as opposition groups burned buildings throughout the country and fired upon police (one of the first deaths was a police officer killed by a shotgun blast), the media has continued to present all of the deaths as the result of state forces firing on peaceful demonstrations. The government annulled the reforms and launched a process of national dialogue, mediated by the Episcopal Conference of Bishops.

As the weeks have gone by, the dialogue has moved forward in fits and starts, with opposition groups blockading major roads and eventually building smaller blockades within cities throughout the country to impede travel and disrupt commerce. The blockades have become the sight of further violence. In international media, accounts all of the violence has been blamed on the police and parapolice forces. However, it is clear that opposition forces have utilized extreme force as well. At least 20 police officers have been killed and hundreds wounded. A Sandinista student representative from the Polytechnic University who was taking part in the dialogue was beaten, shot, and left for dead in a ditch in Managua. Independent analysis of reported deaths over the past three months indicates that many are not related to the demonstrations at all, that opposition forces are responsible for dozens of killings, and that many people have died for simply being near skirmishes between the opposition and pro-government groups. 

Against this backdrop, the dialogue has made some progress. Agreements have been reached to allow investigators from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, UN High Commission for Human Rights, and the European Union to work alongside domestic investigators to document the violence. An agreement was reached to organize the dialogue around three tables of discussion – human rights, security, and democratization. While there are clearly major differences between groups at these tables about how to proceed, working through the process for as long as possible to reach an agreement is the only way out of the crisis. The United States should not be adding to the polarization at this time by taking a hardline position on the outcome.

——

Read more of our coverage on Nicaragua here.

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Haiti's Protests: It's More than Gas Prices

Update: Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned today (Saturday, July 14). Details here.

 

On Thursday, the government in Haiti announced a roll back of fuel subsidies that would result in increases of 31% to 50% of the cost of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene.  Gas prices are already extremely high in Haiti, but with the increases, a liter of gas was projected to cost $5 (for perspective, that is almost $19 a gallon!).

The announcement led to protests throughout the country, in which 3 people were killed on Friday, business were looted and buildings set on fire. On Saturday President Moïse cancelled the rollback of subsidies, and yet protests continued, with people calling for Moïse to step down.

It is too early to know where this is heading. But a few points are important to provide context for what is happening.

The first, is that the announcement came as the government is under increasing pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce the fuel subsidies program as part of a broader set of market reforms the IMF is requiring of Haiti if the country is to be able to access additional funding. Haiti has been under the scrutiny of international financial institutions for decades, with access to funding continually tied to structural reforms aimed at reducing government expenditures. Though Haiti had qualified for debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative some years back, the reductions were highly conditioned, and benchmarks impossible to meet, given political instability, four hurricanes and the 2010 earthquake. The resulting hollowing out of state capacity to deliver social services makes it difficult for the government to meet the demands of the people, and leaves the country dependent on non-governmental and church organizations for the provision of health and education services. Actual debt cancellation is still required – as most of the Haiti’s multilateral debts have been accrued under un-elected governments.

A second point is that the Haiti’s participation in PetroCaribe has not provided the hoped for benefits, with political leadership using the funds for investments into business ventures that had no impact on poverty reduction. PetroCaribe is a program launched by Venezuela. Under the provisions of the program, a country may pay back a portion of the bill for oil sales at a very low rate of interest over an extended period of time. In Haiti’s case, 40% of the revenue from the sale of oil could be held and used for social services, with the payback of the balance over a 25-year period at 1% interest.

Earlier this year, an audit of the program as administered under former presidents Preval and Martelly  showed a number of problems. Questions arose, particularly, around Martelly’s prime minister, Laurent Lamothe’s facilitation of projects geared toward tourism. An example:

In another case, the Dominican corporation Ingeniería ESTRELLA was given a contract of nearly US$20 million by the Martelly/Lamothe government to build an airport on Ile-à-Vache, which it was trying to develop as a resort for rich tourists. Le Nouvelliste visited the island recently and found that, although the company had pocketed more than $5.2 million in revenue, work on the project ended more than two years ago and left behind an unpaved landing strip half the size contracted for. No planes have been able to land on it.

The release of the audit back in January of this year led to much anger at the government – including the current government of President Moïse, who is from the same party as President Martelly, and has done little to confront these past abuses. Given past anger, Moïse clearly did not have the political capital and legitimacy with the people required to make the controversial announcement about steep increases in fuel costs.

Finally, the question of legitimacy is not a small one. In 2011, the United States intervened in elections in Haiti, demanding that Martelly be included in a runoff for which he did not qualify, according to Haiti’s electoral council (Martelly had come in third in first-round voting that year). The government eventually gave in under enormous pressure, and Martelly won the elections with a very low voter turnout. The United States seemed to embrace Martelly – the first president to win an election outside of the Lavalas movement or Preval’s Lespwa, a political coalition that included many former Lavalas members. Such a victory, long sought by U.S. policy makers, was not greeted warmly by the people of Haiti. This cloud hangs over President Moïse who has struggled to build a coalition within the context of PetroCaribe corruption scandal, controversies over re-establishing the army, and ongoing economic hardship. It doesn’t help Moïse’s case that there are reports that the U.S. State Department indicated he may be on the way out.

As one might expect, people are not simply burning tires and buildings over gas prices. The demonstrations have deeper roots, and thus it is not surprising that they have continued even after the cancellation of the increases.

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Here are those missing documents from the DOJ’s July 3rd Press Release

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III celebrated Independence Day by issuing a press release touting his decision to rescind 24 guidance documents related to juvenile justice, immigration, school safety, and racial discrimination. 

When reporters and lawyers went to work searching for these documents on agency websites, several had already been removed.

As a service for those interested, we have embedded those missing documents below in order of their appearance on the DOJ’s July 3rd press release, with their original item numbers as listed. A list of all of the other rescinded documents, with for-now-still-working links, is available here

  1. March 17, 2011, OJJDP Memorandum re Status Offenders and the JJDPA.
  1. June 17, 2014, Revised Guidance on Jail Removal and Separation Core Requirements
  1. Disaggregating MIP Data from DSO and/or Jail Removal Violations: OJJDP Guidance for States, 2011
  1. OJJDP Guidance Manual: Audit of Compliance Monitoring Systems

    8. BJA State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Guidelines, 2016

We’ll do our best to update as necessary.

Inquiries: (301) 699-0042 or jessica@quixote.org

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Is Rap More Dangerous Than Rape?

Last month, a priest in Kenya, Father Paul Ogalo started his year-long suspension, his offense: rapping during Mass. In an attempt to connect with the youth in his area, Father Ogalo began using the art of rap music to “attract a young people to his church and using it to spread the message against drug abuse.” Although Father Ogalo has been using rap to bring community members “closer to God” for some time now, it was only recently, when a video of him rapping in his robe went viral, that it caught the attention of his boss, Bishop Philip Anyolo, causing him to lose his position in the church. When interviewed about the situation Bishop Anyolo stated this: “We have just barred him from preaching using rap music to allow him time to change his ways.”  

The speed with which Father Ogalo was punished is remarkable in comparison to that of the priests and bishops who have committed or been accused of sexually abusing members of their congregation, whose punishment has been administered very slowly. So slowly in fact that it’s almost non-existent. In the latest sexual abuse scandal, an Australian archbishop was sentenced to home detention for covering up sexual abuse incidents committed by a fellow priest forty years ago; by covering for the priest, the archbishop said he “was protecting the church and its image.”  But even with his disgraceful actions and the conviction, the Vatican continues to allow the archbishop to keep his position; although he is no longer the head of the archdiocese, he still has the title of archbishop. Why hasn’t the Vatican reacted to this issue in a more just manner?

All religious institutions have standards and models of integrity and the Catholic church is no different. But when comparing the two stories one must ask: is rap music really more dangerous than rape? What kind of model is the Catholic church promoting if they punish clergyman for rapping but not for being involved in sexually abusing individuals? These questions definitely need answers. 

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Immigration: In the wake of Trump's executive order, we still have a lot of work to do!

Last Wednesday Trump signed an executive order to end the policy of separating children from families at the border. The order still mandates that children be put in detention with family members, and does not apply to the over 2,300 children who have already been separated in recent weeks – in total, over 10,000 children are currently in detention. Some of these children may never see their parents again. The temporary stay on this brutal policy is surely a response to the enormous backlash the policy has generated and speaks to the power of mobilization. However, in typical Trump fashion, the stay is also a disingenuous ploy to put pressure on Congress to adopt anti-immigration legislation that gives him what he wants: a wall, even tougher enforcement measures, and limits on legal immigration. If Congress fails to act, it is likely that the nightmare will begin again in a few weeks.

As story after story reveals the true horror that is our immigration enforcement system, we are confronted by the reality that this system has deep roots and has been built over decades by both Democrats and Republicans. The result of this embeddedness is a wide variety of corporate interests who profit from the detention and the monitoring of migrants. The parallels with the expansion of the prison system are enormous. From the companies that build and/or manage private facilities, to the companies that provide “services” in these facilities and get paid to monitor people on parole, the United States has created an enormous private carceral infrastructure worth tens of billions of dollars a year. This system, already in place, was tragically handed off last year to a demagogue, who daily trades in racist and xenophobic rhetoric, magnifying the injustice inherent in making criminalization profitable.

The magnification also makes it impossible to any longer deny the fundamentally inhumane system we have built. And so, we must dismantle it. The mobilization of rage at this system, manifested in the protests against family separation, must continue. The system remains outrageous and the interests that profit from it are wealthy and have extensive reach in Congress. This is a long fight. Where to begin (or continue)?

TAKE ACTION!

A first priority is to insist that government support efforts to reunite children with their parents. The Texas Civil Rights Project is currently representing 300 families – and has only been able to find 2 children!!  “Either the government wasn’t thinking at all about how they were going to put these families back together, or they decided they just didn’t care,” said Natalia Cornelio, with the organization. [Update: Tuesday night, the ACLU won a national injunction against family separation that requires the government to reunite all children who have been separated with their parents within 30 days; for children under 5 within 14 days! A huge victory – but sure to be appealed, so we must keep the pressure on!!!].

Take a moment to call and insist that the government do everything it can to support the reunification of families:

  • White House (202) 456-1414
  • Department of Justice (202) 353-1555, (Attorney General Jeff Sessions)
  • Department of Homeland Security (202) 282-8495, (Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen)

There are a number of organizations working on the frontlines of the crisis. If you are in a position to help support their work, every little bit helps.

If you are in the Maryland, D.C., Virginia area, consider volunteering with Sanctuary DMV. Several of our staff in Maryland volunteer with the organization.

Consider one of the many Families Belong Together marches being organized around the country this Saturday, June 30.

Keep posted, and keep engaged. We are in this for the long haul!

 

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Guidance for Jeff Sessions and other news

Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a Policy Memorandum offering guidance for border officers in dealing with asylum cases, in accordance with Jeff Sessions’ ruling that domestic violence and gang violence will no longer constitute credible fears for asylum applications. The memo can be read here, the ruling here, and some news coverage here.

A couple of weeks ago, Sessions recounted some of the ugly crimes committed by MS-13 members while defending the family separation not-exactly-policy-but-definitely-not-law. Trump invokes them nearly every day to stoke the fires of his base and create straw-men for politicians and journalists. The problem with this tactic is that it shines a spotlight on the administration’s (a) lack of logical consistency and/or (b) blatant race-based hypocrisy. Trump and Sessions want to revel in the heinousness of the crimes in order to demonize the very people seeking asylum to escape those crimes.

Is the gang violence bad? Yes? Then asylum is a legitimate claim. Is asylum from gang violence legitimate? No? Then the violence must not be that bad. In case he is a more visual learner, I have created this helpful flowchart that Sessions might want to consult in order to understand that he cannot have it both ways.

By denying asylum to those fleeing gang violence, Sessions is telling us that Central American parents should just accept the fact that their children will either likely be recruited to commit such crimes or be killed in a manner he deems unacceptable – at least for (non-Central) Americans.

Frankly, the only framework in which Sessions’ argument is coherent is one that sees Central Americans as a virus to be subjected to quarantine until it dies out and children from these countries as less deserving of the protections we seek for kids in the United States; in other words, a racist framework. (Laura Bush wrote an op-ed comparing family separation and detention to FDR’s Japanese American internment camps during WWII.)

In other news:

  • CLINIC and ASAP released a study on In Absentia removal of asylum seekers.

  • Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, stated that the facilities for kids who have been taken from their parents by the government are “one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.”

  • Paula White, Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” said:

“I think so many people have taken Biblical Scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee.’ Yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”

Setting aside the significant historical and theological problems with her statement, we are still left to ask: Is she suggesting that babies can be criminals? And is this part of her “spiritual advice” to Trump?

  • And finally, ICYMI, Sessions doesn’t mind joking about family separation:

 

 

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Silencing Victims, Condoning Abuse: Trump, ICE, and 287(g)

Prince Gbohoutou, Marta, and Alejandra.  These are the names of a few publicized individuals whose presence was not silenced by ICE, thanks to community support. They shouted loud enough for the world to hear and send their “thoughts and prayers.” But their concerns are not 5-minute TV segments that we can switch when we want to watch something different. These are real stories of abuse, abandonment, and mistreatment at the hands of U.S. government agencies that believe that escaping a world of hardship is a crime that should be met by physical abuse, harassment, and imprisonment. We each have someone in our life who comments on our actions without living through our pain. This current administration is degrading asylum seekers without understanding the environment they are coming from. An environment they themselves couldn’t/wouldn’t even survive. In fact, they probably would not be able to survive the most impoverished neighborhoods in America. Ask yourself this: have those who are verbal abusing immigrants at mandatory weekly check-ins at the 24 ICE offices around the nation or affiliated ISAP offices ever been persecuted? Have they ever had to fear for their lives? Or do they relish in the fact that they make up rules to apply to “the other,” mainly people of color, in order to create fear and chaos to keep their power?

At the end of the day, the Trump Administration is feeding off of ignorance and those who comply with these cruel human rights violations are just as guilty. For visualization purposes, let’s draw a parallel between employees compliant in this behavior and the #MeToo movement. In this movement, stories came out about how employees of the abuser created an environment (through the help of assistants, etc.) that allowed for their bosses to sexually assault women and men. The Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are the abusers and ICE and local jails that are part of the 287(g) program are the employees that are helping to solidify an environment of abuse.

Treating this issue as a TV segment feeds our fear and ignorance, but we can change that. To address fear as well as ignorance, band together with sanctuary organizations in your community such as ACLU-People Power, Central Virginia Sanctuary Network, Sanctuary DMV, and the like to build a strong community of support; to end fear, fight to end the presence of 287(g) in your communities.

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Contact Us

  • Quixote Center
    7307 Baltimore Ave.
    Ste 214
    College Park, MD 20740
  • Office: 301-699-0042
    Email: info@quixote.org

Direction to office:

For driving: From Baltimore Ave (Route 1) towards University of Maryland, turn right onto Hartwick Rd. Turn immediate right in the office complex.

Look for building 7307. We are located on the 2nd floor.

For public transportation: We are located near the College Park metro station (green line)