Gros Morne Stories: Amy Jobin, Quest volunteer 1999

As part of our celebration of the 20th anniversary of the launch of the reforestation project in Gros Morne, Haiti in partnership with the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center, we are sharing reflections from people who have been a part of the program over the years. This week we are sharing a reflection from Amy Jobin who volunteered with the Religious of Jesus and Mary’s (RJM) Quest program in 1999 as the reforestation project was getting started.

I remember going to Tèt Mòn for the first time shortly after I arrived in Gros-Morne back in August of 1999 for a year of volunteering with Quest. I remember Sr. Pat first telling me about Tèt Mòn and how the RJMs and the Montfortain priests had made the [transfer] of the land possible [from the Diocese of Gonaives] so that it could be reforested.  I don’t recall exactly how many acres or hectares Sr. Pat told me had been purchased but it sounded like a lot – and that a lot of trees would need to be planted to cover this much ground.

I also remember the first time we went out to see Tèt Mòn, the name we called this mountain that was going to be reforested. It wasn’t much to look at, like many of the mountains in Haiti; it was brown, dry, eroded looking….. but whole sections had tiny new trees planted on it that ranged from about six inches to a foot or foot and a half tall.  When places like this become too deforested, rain stops falling, creating conditions that make places like Gros-Morne even more prone to drought which can lead to a host of other challenges in places where water and especially potable water for drinking is already on short supply. To combat the water problem, big blue plastic barrels had been placed all over Tèt Mòn that were periodically filled with water from [the river] and when we would go out to see the forest in the evenings, we would check the small trees, giving a sip of water to as many trees as we could before it became too dark. At the time, this struck me as a “nice project” that needed to be done so that there might be some tree cover on the mountain again and maybe more rain in that area. I had no idea when Sr. Pat introduced me to Tèt Mòn in the early beginnings of this project what it would one day come to be.

Fast forward to May, 2015. It has been over a decade since I have visited Haiti and when I arrive in Gros Morne, Sr. Pat says to me, “I want you to come and see Tèt Mòn while you’re here.” I had a much greater appreciation for trees and reforestation by this time in my life and I remember being excited to go and see this forest that had been in the re-making for over 15 years now. When I got there, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The once nearly barren land with small trees on it now had to be entered through a special path that was made so that anyone visiting could walk through the forest! I remember our first few steps inside, it had changed so much that we were no longer standing on a piece of land that was being reforested, but we were inside the coverage of an actual forest. The trees were anywhere from five to fifteen feet tall at least. And wonder of wonders, there were birds, insects – in particular, caterpillars weaving pupas and several different colored moths or butterflies, one a beautiful color of delicate yellow, everywhere we turned. Not only had the trees grown, but this now forest had an eco-system all its own, supporting a host of plants and animals not to mention the humans who were benefiting from its carbon-absorbing properties, not to mention its beauty.

I am still struck each time I remember and re-imagine my experience of the forest with Sr. Pat 15 years after it had been planted, struck by about how much it changed and transformed and came back to life, how even the animals and insects knew it was time to come back.  Is it a miracle, well, yes, in its own way, but it is also a testimony to a well planned reforestation project and care for our earth, who needs us to be awake to her condition so much at this time in our history.

During one of my early visits to Tèt Mòn, I was with Sr. Pat and one of our good Haitian friends, Jean (pronounced John) Desnor. Jean was instrumental in helping plan and coordinate this project, knowing which trees needed to be planted, how much water they would need, the growing cycles of certain trees, and many more agricultural complexities that needed to be carefully thought out as this project began. I hardly remember taking the photo, but I still have one of Jean and Sr. Pat up on Tèt Mòn back in the very early days and Jean has his hand on his heart and Sr. Pat is looking reflectively at the land. I didn’t understand what this project meant to either of them when it began, but the photo says it all; they knew it was possible for a forest to be re-grown here someday. Sr. Dorothy Stang, SNDdeN, who was martyred in the Amazon in 2005 for her work empowering indigenous peoples to fight for land rights and for protecting the land itself, said “The death of forest is the end of our life.” She knew as she watched acre upon of acre of clear cutting in the Amazon that “the trees are the lungs of our planet” and that if we keep cutting them down without replacing and reforesting, we would be (and still are) on a fast path to self-destruction. Let us remember her words and let us continue to plant, support and celebrate forests like Tèt Mòn that remind us of the regenerative powers of our Mother Earth and that it’s our right and our responsibility to assist her. Thank you, Sr. Pat, Sr. Jackie, Jean, Pè Chacha, the Grepen farmers and agricultural workers and so many others who helped bring Tèt Mòn to life again, helping Mother Earth sustain, one tree at a time.

 – Amy Jobin, campus minister, Quest volunteer 1999

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Daily Dispatch 4/18/2019


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April 18, 2019


Where life is precious, life is precious

New York Times Magazine published a profile of Ruth Wilson Gilmore yesterday. Gilmore is long-time activist in the prison abolition movement, working for years to educate and organize folk to challenge new prison construction, while also working toward the kind of society where violence is not endemic. Gilmore was instrumental in the launching of the Prison Moratorium Project in California, and later helped to found Critical Resistance.

The article is also full of insights about the need to be more careful in how we frame issues surrounding incarceration.

Gilmore has come to understand that there are certain narratives people cling to that are not only false but that allow for policy positions aimed at minor or misdirected — rather than fundamental and meaningful — reforms. Gilmore takes apart these narratives: that a significant number of people are in prison for nonviolent drug convictions; that prison is a modified continuation of slavery, and, by extension, that most everyone in prison is black; and, as she explained in Chicago, that corporate profit motive is the primary engine of incarceration.

In speaking of equating imprisonment with slavery, Gilmore asks, “Why do we need that misconception to see the horror of it [incarceration]?”

The scale of the problem of mass incarceration is enormous. Most people by now know that we have the largest population of incarcerated people on the planet – standing at over 2 million. The number of people who have a record of arrest or conviction in the United States is 70 million. Gilmore says,

The key point here, about half of the work force, is to think not only about the enormity of the problem, but the enormity of the possibilities! That so many people could benefit from being organized into solid formations, could make certain kinds of demands, on the people who pay their wages, on the communities where they live. On the schools their children go to. This is part of what abolitionist thinking should lead us to.

Read the full article here. It is worth spending some time with.

Confronting the Bail Industry

The impact of bail on incarceration numbers is enormous. There are 465,000 people in local jails who have yet to be convicted of a crime, many simply because they cannot afford bail.

The United States and the Philippines are the only countries in the world that have commercial bail industries, and the companies involved in this industry are very committed to keeping pre-trial release conditioned on the payment of bail. The ACLU provides an overview of the bail industry as part of their work to end the practice:

The commercial bail industry profits off people faced with the impossible choice between sitting in jail or entering coercive contracts with bond agents. Furthermore, the industry fortifies structural racism. People of Color—particularly Women of Color—suffer the worst financial harms. And these companies exact further harms by serving as a roadblock to positive change: employing lobbying groups like the American Bail Coalition to spread fear-mongering misinformation, attempt to stymie reform, and to preserve their fiscal bottom line. Only the United States and the Philippines allow a commercial bail industry to exist.

The exploitation insurance companies perpetuate depends on our abusive money bail system. And our punitive, dysfunctional bail system is the key driver of our mass incarceration crisis. The truth is we don’t need profit motives to ensure a fair and safe pretrial justice system. In fact, actual “fugitive” status is incredibly rare, and the majority of people present no threat of violence if released pretrial.  

Read the full report here

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Daily Dispatch 4/17/2019


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April 17, 2019


Trump vetoes resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen

Yesterday Trump vetoed a resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on the people of Yemen. The resolution had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and passed both by significant margins – but not enough to override the veto (unless Members decide that defending the constitutional obligations and power of congress are more important than short-term partisan interests). So, yeah, the veto will likely stand.

While Trump’s move has been widely denounced, as it should be, it is worth pointing out the hypocrisy of Trump’s war on immigration, which has, in recent weeks, included mocking people seeking asylum. To mock asylum-seekers and refugees, while spending billions to fuel the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet at the moment, is morally reprehensible. The war in Yemen has displaced 3 million people, 10% of the population, while half the population faces starvation. (Imagine over 30 million U.S. Americans displaced by violence, and another 160 million facing starvation). It is hard to imagine that level of destruction, and if we ever get to that point, thanks to Trump, no country on the planet will be willing to help.

That said, the war in Yemen and the U.S. government support for Saudi Arabia, has been a moral disgrace for a long-time. Trump, once again, is taking bad, long-standing policy, and making it worse.

Trump administration will block bond for asylum seekers

To only make the above point more clear, the Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, has issued new rules overturning a precedent that allowed asylum seekers to seek bond hearings while waiting the adjudication of their cases. Barr is seeking to change that rule, effectively denying bond hearings to people who cross the border outside of regular ports of entry. The impact will be horrendous for tens of thousands of people, who will now face indefinite detention.

With the immigration court backlog at an all-time high – there are close to 900,000 pending cases – asylum-seekers are waiting over 1,000 days on average for their cases to be processed, meaning Barr’s decision could lead to the indefinite detention of thousands of people.

Immigration enforcement is currently holding a record number of people, more than 50,000, in detention as part of the Trump administration’s broad crackdown on migrants. Barr’s decision is likely to significantly add to that number as the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] prepares to erect new tent detention facilities close to the border.

Good News (yeah sometimes we have this!): Court overturns Trump’s effort to end TPS for Haiti

From the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild press release:

“In a victory for due process and a blow to Trump’s racially-biased, anti-immigrant policies, yesterday, federal district judge William F. Kuntz II issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti.”

Ten items to highlight from the ruling:

  1. In an unusual step, the Court issued the injunction not only against DHS, but also against President Trump, to ensure the White House operates in accordance with the law (pp. 67-70).

  2. The Court found that Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke sought to terminate TPS for Haiti due in part to President Trump’s “America First” policy of reducing the number of non-white immigrants in the U.S., and unrelated to conditions in Haiti (pp. 91-93).

  3. The Court found that former DHS Secretary Kelly unlawfully predetermined the termination of Haiti’s TPS when he made his decision to extend TPS for Haiti in May of 2017. The Court cited to a “privileged” email directive to the agency that it should announce a 6-month extension, but also make clear in the federal register notice that Haiti’s TPS will be terminated in 6 months. In other words, it was unlawful for DHS to predetermine to cancel TPS at the same that time that DHS extended TPS (p. 29, pp. 93-95).

  4. The Court found that high level officials furthered the agenda to dismantle the TPS program, including Gene Hamilton, then-Senior Advisor to Secretary Kelly and previously a member of President Trump’s transition team on immigration, who wrote, “African countries are toast…Haiti is next” (p. 115, p. 132).

  5. The Court found that after the Haiti termination decision was announced, a DHS official admitted in a privileged email that it was the White House who led the TPS decision-making process for Haiti and influenced Duke. This included a November 2017 meeting orchestrated by the White House, during which Jeff Sessions, attorney general at the time, and many other White House officials, leaned on Duke to terminate Haiti’s TPS status. The implication of this finding is that the White House did indeed pressure DHS to change its process about TPS decisions (p. 128, p. 129).

  6. The Court found that State Department officials manipulated the process to reach a pretextual decision by ignoring the views of U.S. embassy officials in contravention of longstanding practice, rescinding an already-delivered recommendation to extend Haiti’s TPS from June, labeled in a privileged email by Secretary Nielsen as a mistake, and coordinating its review with DHS to terminate Haiti’s TPS (pp. 36-42, p. 100).

  7. The Court found that DHS officials Kathy Kovarik, Robert Law, Francis Cissna, and others manipulated the facts to reach a preordained decision by omitting negative information of Haiti’s country conditions from its memos and searching for any positive facts. For example, DHS official Robert Law noted to Kathy Kovarik that the draft decision memo for Haiti is “overwhelmingly weighted for extension which I do not think is the conclusion we are looking for.” In fewer than thirty minutes, and thus with no time to conduct any factual or legal analysis, Law returned another draft director memorandum, that “made the document fully support termination” (pp. 95- 97).

  8. The Court also pointed to then Secretary Kelly’s atypical and unprecedented directives to his staff to “search for criminality and welfare data” as “further evidence the agency was fishing for reasons to terminate TPS for Haiti,” and as evidence of discriminatory intent (pp. 23-25, p. 134). The Court also took note of Kelly’s racist statement that Haitians are “not a bad people, but they are welfare recipients” (p. 31, pp. 98-99, p. 132).

  9. The Court found that DHS unlawfully changed its past practice of looking to all country conditions to determine whether it was safe for nationals to return to their home country to only conditions related to the originating event, without explanation and in contravention of the statute (pp. 105-110).

  10. While the decisions to terminate Honduras’ and El Salvador’s TPS were delayed, the Court found that those decisions were predetermined in 2017 for Haiti, as evidenced by privileged government memos about the implications of the impending terminations for those countries. This means that the Judge, after examining evidence he could only see, found that Honduras and El Salvador were treated in a similar matter as Haiti (p. 132).

 

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Daily Dispatch 4/16/2019


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April 16, 2019


Reshuffling of personnel at border creates major delays

The Trump administration’s decision to relocate border patrol agents from ports of entry to manage detention and processing of asylum seekers is stifling commerce at the border during Holy Week, traditionally a major shopping time for people crossing from Mexico into the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security said last month it was redirecting 750 Customs and Border Protection officers from the ports of entry in El Paso, Laredo, Tucson and San Diego to assist U.S. Border Patrol agents in processing undocumented immigrants. The reassignments have caused massive delays at international bridges for pedestrian, vehicular and cargo traffic in the weeks leading up to Holy Week.

That has merchants concerned about how the administration’s decision to pull hundreds of agents away from their duties at the international bridges will impact El Paso’s retail sector — especially now at the beginning of Holy Week, one of the busiest seasons for cross-border shopping.

Full story from Texas Tribune here.

ICE Deports Husband of U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

From CNN:

The husband of a US Army soldier killed in combat was detained and deported to Mexico last week by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement even though he had been granted permission to stay in the US, according to his attorney.

The man, who is now back in Phoenix, where he lives, had been granted “parole in place,” clearing him to remain in the US after his wife was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, the attorney says.

Jose Gonzalez Carranza was arrested by ICE agents at his home in Phoenix on April 8 and was taken to Nogales, Mexico, on the border two days later, his lawyer, Ezequiel Hernandez, told CNN on Monday. Carranza was brought back to Phoenix and released Monday, hours after his deportation was first reported by The Arizona Republic.

Though Carranza had been granted “parole in place” following his wife’s death in Afghanistan, ICE began deportation proceedings against him last year. An order to appear before immigration court was sent to the wrong address. Having not received the order, Carranza never went to court, and the judge issued a deportation order. A few weeks back we reported about how DHS’s frequently makes such paperwork errors – and those can have a significant impact on people’s lives. As was reported at the time, there is no clear indication they actually want to be more careful.

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Daily Dispatch 4/12/2019


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April 12, 2019


Attorney General William Barr proposes reform of immigration courts

Citing a growing backlog of active immigration cases, Trump’s new attorney general has proposed sweeping changes to the power of the appellate courts within the immigration court system. The changes are aimed at making it easier for appellate judges to rule and to establish binding precedents.  

Immigration courts operate under the Department of Justice and are thus independent of the Federal Court system. The attorney general has significant authority to issue new rules and overturn decisions. For example, when Jeff Sessions was attorney general he used this authority to limit the basis under which one could file for asylum if fleeing sexual violence or gang related violence, arguing that such acts were criminal offenses to be dealt with in the home country, not acts of political violence. Sessions’ decision led to a mandated review of tens of thousands of cases. Decisions like this one have contributed greatly to the cited backlog of 800,000 cases straining the court system.

So, what are they up to now? From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The proposed Justice Department regulation change has two main parts. First, it would allow the immigration courts’ appellate arm, the Board of Immigration Appeals, to more easily issue “affirmances without opinion.” Those affirmances are when a single appeals judge, rather than a three-judge panel, upholds a lower court’s deportation decision without issuing an explanation.

The appeals board would be allowed to consider limited resources — such as a shortage of staff or a crush of cases — to issue such cursory affirmances, something it cannot do now.

Second, the regulation would change the way the appeals board can make its decisions public — the step that gives those decisions the force of binding precedent for all 400 immigration judges and the appeals court itself. In the past, those decisions have dictated what types of gang violence or domestic violence cases qualify for asylum, for example, or what constitutes a vulnerable population in need of protection.

Currently, the appeals board can declare a binding precedent only if a majority of all permanent sitting judges vote to do so. The regulation would do away with that requirement and allow a two-judge majority of any three-judge panel that decides a case to declare it a precedent. It would also give the attorney general that power — allowing him to set as precedent any three-judge panel’s decision he chooses.

The effort to further streamline court processes and expand the precedent-setting authority of immigration appellate judges (judges hired by the Justice Department) demonstrates a serious flaw in the oversight of immigration policy: The executive branch has significant power to shape immigration policy independent of congress through rulings in the immigration courts and through determinations made by the Attorney General. Appeals in some cases can be made to the federal court system, if rulings run counter to legislative intent. But these are hard cases to win. As is, the enforcement of immigration policy is done through a court system that can be shaped through partisan intent (though technically this is banned). Many immigration judges are doing great work – certainly in cases Quixote Center staff have accompanied people to – the judges have made every effort within their power to be fair. If Trump’s administration is allowed to reshape the appellate process, however, their hands may be tied even further.

“Precedent decisions live on forever, and so once they have that, they’re going to work on issuing precedent decisions, as many as they possibly can,” said Rena Cutlip-Mason, who now works at Tahirih Justice Center, an organization that defends immigrant women and children fleeing gender-based violence. “There’s going to be a lot more precedents, and it’s hard to say what those precedents will be.”

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Daily Dispatch 4/11/2019


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April 11, 2019


Behind the Looking Glass: Trump’s Latest Propaganda on Family Separation

On Tuesday Trump went off the rails when asked whether he would re-start family separation at the border (let’s be clear, it never ended!).  Trump went on a Trumpian tirade in which he argued that Obama separated families and the he (Trump) was the one to stop it. See video below.

While the blogosphere goes crazy with liberal indignation, let’s be honest.  The policies of the Obama administration did lead to family separation on large scale. The conditions were horrible. From the report “Divided by Detention” issued in August of 2016 by the American Immigration Council:

Through its custody determinations, DHS splits family members—sending them to different facilities around the country—while failing to track and reunite those who arrive separately. While DHS claims that family detention keeps families together, the truth is that a mother and child who are sent to family detention will often have been separated by DHS from other loved ones with whom they fled—including husbands, fathers, grandparents, older children, and siblings. Minors who arrive with non-parent caretakers are often removed from their custody. These DHS custody determinations that divide families do not occur in a vacuum. The administration has targeted these families, while Congress maintains a controversial directive to fund a minimum capacity of 34,000 noncitizen detention beds.

Further:

For asylum-seeking families who arrive in the United States together and who are apprehended together, the first point of separation is likely to be CBP’s temporary detention facilities near the U.S.-Mexico border. These holding cells—which are designed for short-term custody of 12 hours or less, yet regularly detain people for days at a time—are commonly referred to by guards and detainees alike as hieleras [iceboxes] or perreras [dog kennels] because of their frigid temperatures and harsh conditions. Detainees are first taken to the hielera, which they describe as extremely cold, overcrowded, and unsanitary. They are denied showers and supplies like soap, diapers, sanitary napkins, and sufficient toilet paper. At night, the lights stay on while detainees sleep on the floor or benches without bedding. They are denied medical care and given inadequate meals and drinking water. Detainees are isolated from their loved ones, their consulate, and legal counsel. They report abusive and coercive behavior from CBP officers, such as pressure to accept their deportation. Some detained families are subsequently taken to the perrera for an additional day, or even for several more days.

It is in this frigid and coercive climate that asylum-seeking families report being separated by gender and age. The women interviewed described the painful experience in the hielera as the beginning of a prolonged and indefinite separation from their husbands or partners, from other adult relatives, and from minor relatives who are not their biological children.

Another report on family separation, Betraying Family Values, issued in January of 2017, prior to Trump taking office, makes clear that many of the institutional problems that have led to the current administration’s failure to properly track family members already existed.

So did Obama’s administration separate families, including taking children away from caregivers? Yes. And this process was just as horrible then as now.

But Trump is still lying. Unlike Obama, the Trump administration has utilized family separation as a specific tactic to deter immigration. Family separation escalated dramatically in the spring and summer of 2018. Trump did issue an executive order suspending family separation – temporarily – but the practice has not ended. The underlying institutional and legal problems that have created this nightmare still exist. They existed prior to Trump; they still exist today. As with everything Trump does, there is a precedent, a prior policy or practice that his administration cynically employs, expands, or abuses, in order to create this phony border crisis and divert resources from things that would actually help.

We have to push back against this administration with everything we have. But pretending that somehow things were tolerable under Obama for immigrants should not be part of the strategy. Trump is lying, as he always does, about his own heroics. But he is not lying about Obama separating families. He did.

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Daily Dispatch 4/10/2019


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April 10, 2019


The news on immigration is bad. But there are ways to engage. Here are a couple of opportunities for action and support. We are also doing a soft launch of our Local Action Map, which you can check out for other ideas.

Our goal is to profile local action and opportunities a couple of times a week as part of our news. Feel free to share a story or details about an organization with us. Email tom@quixote.org.

Latinx Therapist Action Network Launched
(Abridged from organizational announcement)

We are excited to announce the launch of Latinx Therapists Action Network and its online platform www.latinxtherapistsactionnetwork.org. We have been tirelessly working the past year as mental health practitioners, students, healing arts practitioners, and organizers who are guided by a deep love for our immigrant communities, to bring together a collective of Latinx therapists who believe in healing justice, immigrant rights, and abolishing ICE.

The Latinx Therapists Action Network believes that the criminalization, incarceration and disposal of immigrant people are an extension of unjust mass incarceration.  The suffering inflicted today on migrants has intensified during the current administration, thus further illuminating the need for culturally grounded organizing and justice-oriented healing that is accessible to frontline communities. This is an offering to our Latinx communities at the frontlines of the struggle against criminalization, detention and deportation.

Areas of Work

1)     Build the resiliency of the migrant rights movement and its leadership through emotional health education where therapists and grassroots organizations coincide geographically and through building a vibrant online platform of resources.

2)     Deepen the consciousness of Latinx Therapists about issues of criminalization, incarceration and migration.

3)     Stand in Solidarity with the migrant rights movement against criminalization, detention and deportation.   

4)     Build a directory of Latinx therapist committed to providing culturally grounding and financially accessible mental health services to communities on the frontlines of the struggle for migrant rights.

If interested in learning more, check the website and review the guiding principles here.

Lawyers needed for TPS Clinic on May 4 (Westbury, New York)

The national Labor & Employment Committee of the National Lawyers Guild has partnered with Working Families United (WFU) to plan a series of immigration clinics across the country for union members who are Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. You can read more about WFU below. The next clinic is scheduled for May 4 at the UFCW local 1500 office in Westbury, NY.

For the May 4th clinic, WFU is looking for volunteer attorneys who have knowledge of legal protections for and issues affecting employees with TPS at work.  If you have this background and are interested in volunteering, please contact Setareh Ghandehari, of the national Labor & Employment Committee. Her email is nlglabor@gmail.com.  Please forward this request to others who might be interested in volunteering.

Project Unify

Project Unify is a program of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. They are currently looking for attorneys and interpreters to assist with a court-mandated site inspection of the family detention center in Dilley, TX (near San Antonio) that will happen April 15-17. Kind of last minute, we know. To get involved in this, or other activity in the future, check out the website.

From the Project Unify volunteer page:

We are looking for licensed attorneys, social workers, mental health specialists, pediatricians, health care specialists and interpreters to help us conduct interviews and on-site visits as well as provide consultations, assessments, and occasionally legal representation and health care services and referrals. We are also looking for organizations within these sectors that would like to volunteer. Please follow this link to the registration page if you are interested.

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Daily Dispatch 4/9/2019


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Daily Dispatch

April 9, 2019


Disorder by Design

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has released a report on immigration policy, Disorder by Design: A Manufactured U.S. Emergency and the Real Crisis in Central America. The report is specifically focused on IRC’s work in El Salvador and more recent work in the United States. There is some great background in the report on policy initiatives by the Trump administration. The core theme of the report – that Trump is creating disorder at the border to create a sense of crisis for political purposes – is convincing.

The director of the URC, David Milliband, gave an interview with the Guardian about the report. From The Guardian:

In an interview with the Guardian from IRC’s headquarters in New York, Miliband said that Trump’s approach to immigration amounted to “disorder by design”.“The administration needs to create the evidence to justify its immigration policies – it is using the concept of crisis to create the justification for government by executive fiat.”

The national emergency declared by the US president in February to bolster his plans for a border wall were denounced by Miliband as “manufactured crisis”. He said: “By no standards of national or international precedent would you describe it as a crisis, even in the communities affected in the southern US.”

Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable people are suffering because of the removal of US protections, slow processing of their asylum claims and cuts in federal aid, he said. “The people who pay the price for government policy failure are the most vulnerable and least able to cope, whether Americans who are on the edge or Central Americans who are over the edge. That is a great danger.”

Trump instructs border patrol agents to break the law…yeah

Jake Tapper writes for CNN online, that the president instructed border patrols agents to simply refuse entry to people seeking asylum, and that he is pressing to ramp up family separations again – even for families that present at ports of entry. Read the full story here.

Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”

Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”

After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.

On family separation,

Senior administration officials also told CNN that in the last four months or so, the President has been pushing Nielsen to enforce a stricter and more widespread “zero tolerance” immigration policy — not just the original policy started by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and undone by the President once it was criticized — that called for the prosecution of individuals crossing the border illegally between ports of entry, resulting in the separation of parents from children.

According to multiple sources, the President wanted families separated even if they came in at a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. The President wanted families separated even if they were apprehended within the US. He thinks the separations work to deter migrants from coming.

Sources told CNN that Nielsen tried to explain they could not bring the policy back because of court challenges, and White House staffers tried to explain it would be an unmitigated PR disaster.

With Nielsen out now, will the president look for someone even more compliant? It is a real danger.  “At the end of the day,” a senior administration official said, “the President refuses to understand that the Department of Homeland Security is constrained by the laws.”

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Daily Dispatch 4/8/2019


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April 8, 2019


Kirstjen Nielsen Out, What Next?

The top story over the last couple of days has been the forced resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The move has been anticipated for a while. Trump’s decision to push Nielsen out, however, comes after several weeks of news about increased border crossings. Nielsen was hardly a voice for sanity in this administration. She fully supported the child separation policy, and worked to turn Trump’s demagoguery into policy in other areas as well. Thus, her departure is not unwelcome on one hand. On the other, it likely signals that the administration may go even further down the nationalist road, raising the “border crisis” to an even more maniacal cry under the leadership of hardliner Stephen Miller, and fully appeasing the talking heads at Fox News.

The ousting of Nielsen came on the heels of Trump pulling the nomination of Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Ron Vitiello, as permanent head of the department – “a move seen as part of a larger effort by Miller, an immigration hardliner, and his allies at the White House to clean house at the department and bring in more people who share their views, the people said.”  

As Nielsen departs, Trump has appointed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan as Acting Secretary of DHS. McAleenan is not likely to last long in this position.

If this cleaning house is an effort to set up his team for the 2020 presidential election, the dynamics at the border are likely to disintegrate even further. We have some evidence of this from Trump’s rhetoric, which was, in the words of a CNN story, “scorching even by the standards of Trump himself,” over the weekend:

“Can’t take you anymore. Can’t take you. Our country is full … Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. So turn around. That’s the way it is,” Trump said in a message to asylum seekers during a trip to the border on Friday.

A day later, Trump mocked those fleeing persecution seeking a better life in the United States, portraying asylum seekers as criminals and gang members, rather than the families Nielsen described in a CNN interview last week.

“‘I am very fearful for my life,'” Trump said mockingly during a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday. “I am very worried that I will be accosted if I am sent back home. No, no, he’ll do the accosting!”

“Asylum, oh give him asylum! He’s afraid!” Trump said.

Trump can only play one note on immigration: fear. While so many of us are continually shocked, offended, or simply angered by the fact-free and mean- spirited way he spins the issue, it is sobering to know this approach is part of what got him elected. Certainly, that is his understanding. There seems to be no rhetorical bar too low for him to crawl under.

18. More. Months.

Meanwhile…

While Trump instructed asylum seekers to return home because “the country is full,” the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department are expanding the number of visas available to non-farm workers (H-2B visas) by 50% (from 66,000 to 96,000).  From the New York Times:

Unions and immigration opponents argue that hiring H-2B workers suppresses wages and deprives Americans of jobs. Advocacy groups say foreign workers are often exploited, and employers say the cap encourages businesses to hire undocumented workers.

Andrea Palermo, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, did not directly answer questions about what was behind the plan for additional H-2B visas. She also did not address questions about the apparent contradiction in the administration’s positions.

“Congress — not D.H.S. — should be responsible for determining whether the annual numerical limitations for H-2B workers set by Congress need to be modified, and by how much, and for setting parameters to ensure that enough workers are available to meet employers’ temporary needs throughout the year,” she said.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

The lost children of U.S. Immigration Policy

Two years. It will take up to two years to track what happened to children seized at the border and/or  separated from families. Two years!! From USA Today:

The filing Friday outlined the government’s plan to use data analysis and manual reviews to sift through the cases of about 47,000 children who were apprehended by U.S. immigration officials from July 1, 2017, to June 25, 2018, to identify which children might have been taken from family members. It estimated the process “would take at least 12 months, and possibly up to 24 months.” 

Last month, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw expanded the number of migrant families that the government may be forced to reunite under his previous order after an inspector general report revealed that the administration had an undisclosed family separation pilot program in place starting in July of 2017. The ruling was made as part of a lawsuit led by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

 

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20th Anniversary Stories from Gros Morne: Father Chacha

(Above Drone Video of Forest on Tet Mon and Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center [Grepen Center])

This year we mark the 20th Anniversary of our work with Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center in Gros Morne, Haiti. Today we are launching a new blog series to celebrate the 20 year anniversary, which will focus on reflections from people who have worked on the program through the years.

One of the original visionaries of the program was Fr. Ronel Charelus (Father Chacha). Below he discusses the beginnings of the project back in 1999.

Fr. Ronel Charelus (Pere Chacha), former pastor of Notre Dame du La Chandeleur parish

Wi se avèk kè kontan  nou te pran inisyativ pou forè sa a nan Nan Gwomon.  Map sonje Sè Lise Brosseau, Barthelemy Garcon, Nesly Jean Jacques, Jean Desnor, père Cine syriaque, Sè pat Dillon, Sè Rose Gallagher avèk  lot moun anko ki te konprann valè plante pye bwa nan Gwomon.

It was with happy hearts that we took the initiative to start this forest in Gros Morne. I remember Sr. Lise Rosseau, Fr. Barthelemy Garcon, Fr. Nesly Jean Jacques, Jean Desinor, Fr. Cine Syriaque, Sr. Pat Dillon, & Sr. Rose Gallagher,  along with other people who understood the value of planting trees in Gros Morne.

Se te yon pwoje pilot pout tout peyi a.  Nou te gen konviksyon si nou rive plante bwa Gwomon si nou reyisi,  ap gen anpil lot kote nan peyi a kap enterese ak pwoje sa a. Se esperyans sa nou te fè apre kèk lane nou komanse ak pwojè a.

It was a pilot project for the whole country. We had a conviction that if we were able to make this tree planting in Gros Morne successful, there would come to be many other places in the country that would be interested in this project. This is the experience that we had and after some years we started with the project.

Pwojè a te demare  nan lane 1999 ak yon relijiez nan kongregasyon Sè Lise Brosseau ki rele Carol ??? mwen bliye siyati l.  Li tap travay nan Quixote center nan Washington ??. Sete Sè Rose Gallagher yon bon zanmi m ki te metem an relasyon avek li. Li te rive fe plizyè vwayaj  nan Gwomon. Se limenm ki te ede nou jwenn lajan pou nou komanse pwojè sa a.

The project kicked off in in 1999, with a religious sister in the congregation of Sr. Lise Brosseau [Holy Names of Jesus and Mary] who was named Carol [Reis]. She was working with the Quixote Center in Washington. It was Sr. Rose Gallagher, a good friend of mine, who put me in contact with her [Carol]. She came to make many trips to Gros Morne. She was the one who helped us find money so that we could start this project.

Nou te chwazi bay pwojè  a pote non Jean Marie Vincent , yon prêt monfoten  yo te asasine le 28 Aout 1994. Pou kisa nou te chwazi Jean Marie ? Nou te chwazi l paske li te gen yon rèv pou Ayiti. Rèv li se te pou tout peyizan yo gen  lavi, pou yo viv tankou moun. Rèv sa se pou peyi Dayiti kouvri ak Pye bwa yon Jou. Se te yon pwojè odasye. men li te gen Konviksyon nan Bondye, li te kwè nan moun tou… Pou  Jean Marie Espwa peyi a se plante pye bwa. Se mete konsyans sa nan lavi tout timoun lekol yo. Jean Marie mouri, men rèv li yo pa mouri. Nou kapab di li toujou la avèk nou. Grepen ap toujou rete yon referans pou tout Pè monfoten yo ki vle kontinye travay Jean Marie tap fè nan Peyi Dayiti.

We chose to give the project the name of Jean Marie Vincent, a Montfortain priest who was assassinated on 28 August 1994. Why did we choose Jean Marie? We chose him because he had a dream for Haiti. His dream was for all peasants to have life, to live like people. This dream is for the country of Haiti to be covered with trees one day. It was an audacious project. But he had conviction in God and he also believed in people. For Jean Marie, the hope of the country lay in planting trees. He put this awareness in the lives of all of the school children. Jean Marie died, but his dreams are not dead. We can say that he is still here with us. Grepen will always remain a reference for all of the Montfortain priests who want to continue the work that Jean Marie was doing in the country of Haiti.

Yon lot pwojè nou te gen pou Gomon se te pwoteje tet mon yo sitou Rivye Mansèl. Jodi a map mande si pwojè sa a toujou la ? Apre 20 tan jodi a nou kapab evalye ak moun yo, avèk jean Desnor pou nou we si rèv sa a Jean Marie te genyen an ap kontinye toujou.

Another project that we had for Gros Morne is to protect the mountain tops, especially in Rivyè Mansel. Today I ask if that project is still there. After 20 years, today we can evaluate with the people, with Jean Desinor, to see if this dream that Jean Marie had still continues.

 

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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)