Quixote Center Celebrates Victories Against Anti-Immigrant Policies 

Quixote Center Celebrates Victories Against Anti-Immigrant Policies 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 9th, 2022 

Contact: Alexandra Gulden 

alexandra@quixote.org 

Washington DC – The Quixote Center celebrates victories against two Trump-era policies: the defeat of Congressional amendments aimed at extending Title 42, and the effective end of the “Remain in Mexico” program.  

Over the weekend, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, landmark health and climate legislation, without anti-immigrant amendments that threatened to extend Title 42 indefinitely. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will no longer enroll asylum seekers in MPP, commonly referred to as “Remain in Mexico,” and those who are currently enrolled will be allowed to await their scheduled court dates in the U.S. 

“We thank all our partners, supporters, and elected officials who have made phone calls, written letters, and made a stand to demand an end to inhumane and anti-immigrant policies like Title 42 and the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program,” said Quixote Center Executive Director Dr. Kim Lamberty. “Together, these policies have jeopardized the safety of families and adults fleeing from danger, leading to over 10,000 violent attacks against migrants and asylum seekers.  

“The fight is not yet over, as Title 42 remains in place, and immigrant communities continue to face invasive surveillance and detention. We urge the Biden administration to swiftly take all necessary steps to end both Title 42 and ‘Remain in Mexico’, and take action to humanely welcome migrants and asylum seekers, rather than continue to cruelly detain, deport, and expel those seeking safety.” 

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The Quixote Center empowers vulnerable families and communities to become the artisans of their own destiny through transforming oppressive systems and structures. Inspired by liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching, we do this through sustainable development, advocacy, economic justice, environmental, and educational initiatives. Our current focus is on Nicaragua and Haiti, where we support programs to empower impoverished families and communities, and support for migrants in Mexico and Central America, where we work to mitigate the damage of US immigration policies. Together with our partners, we dream of a world more justly loving. 

 

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Migration should be the flight for the dream of life, not death

The following is a translation of a statement by our partners at the Franciscan Network on Migration on the tragedy in Texas, in which 53 migrants were found dead. To read the original statement in Spanish, click HERE

PUBLIC STATEMENT 

To the Governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Honduras, the United States of America 

To any person in good faith. 

Migration should be the flight for the dream of life, not death 

In Texas, on June 29, 2022, the heat, overcrowding, and lack of oxygen ended the lives of more than 50 migrants abandoned in a trailer that was transporting them as they searched for better living conditions; human beings who were forced to leave their country of origin because of injustice and high rates of violence, events that found them in other lands. 

The Franciscan Network for Migrants (RFM) declares our indignation and dismay at the human tragedy experienced by migrants in the territories not only of Northern America, but also in Mexico. Countries whose principles are the “Republic and democracy” as institutions that safeguard the freedom and life of society. We join in the pain that these families are experiencing; with you, we share our prayers and solidarity. 

As they intend to renew policies and practices that criminalize and affect the human rights of every person who migrates, it is urgent that the countries of Central America and Mexico react to move from containment to protection. In the current regional scenario, vulnerable migrants do not have many options to leave, transit, and reach their destinations safely. This leads them to seek paths that put their human dignity, integrity, health, and, in many cases, even their lives at risk. 

As RFM, we call on the competent authorities of the United States to thoroughly investigate the facts and find those responsible for this unfortunate tragedy, as well as to work to eradicate human trafficking. The situation also reflects how xenophobic-racist guidelines and practices only benefit organized crime networks. We condemn the impunity for the various crimes of which migrants are victims.  

We also demand that the governments of the United States of America, Mexico, and the countries of Central America respond to the commitment assumed by different human rights standards to guarantee the effective protection of the human rights of migrants, as well as their fundamental freedoms. 

 As Christians and Franciscans, we firmly believe in the dignity of every human being; that the encounter between cultures and groups enriches us; that justice, equity, and freedom are the basis for fraternity or “social friendship” between peoples; that the stranger is to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated into our societies, as God himself would do (Deuteronomy 19:34). St. Francis of Assisi was a friend and brother to all living people, no one was his enemy or considered him a “foreigner”; we have a political and spiritual legacy that recognizes that both human beings and creatures from  one family, that we live in the same house which is “our Sister, Mother Earth.” 

In these moments of solidarity of all peoples, as the RFM we continue to accompany migrants and their families who leave, transit, or seek to reside in the lands of the Americas: with our prayers, we unite ourselves to their pain. 

ADVOCACY COMMITTEE 

Franciscan Network on Migration 

  

The Franciscan Network on Migration is a network composed of: 

The Frontera Digna Shelter, Piedras Negras; Comedor San Francisco de Asís para Migrantes, Mazatlán; Casa Franciscana Guaymas A.C; Team Hogar Franciscano, Cholula, Puebla; La 72, Hogar Refugio para personas Migrantes, Tenosique; Casa Peregrina del Migrante “Santo Hermano Pedro”, Guatemala; Equipo RFM-Guatemala; Equipo RFM-Honduras; Equipo RFM-El Salvador; Equipo RFM-Panamá; Equipo RFM-Colombia; Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción de Durham; Carolina del Norte (USA); Migrantes Center of New York. Advocacy partners: Quixote Center, Franciscans International. 

 

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SCOTUS Ruling on “Remain in Mexico” Win for Migrant Communities, but Must Not Lead to Increased Detention

 

For Immediate Release: June 30, 2022  

Contact: Alexandra Gulden, alexandra@quixote.org  

 SCOTUS Ruling on “Remain in Mexico” Win for Migrant Communities, but Must Not Lead to Increased Detention 

Washington D.C.—Today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden Administration was lawful in its initial termination of the “Remain in Mexico” program, thus allowing for the Administration to finally end the cruel and inhumane policy.  

The Quixote Center celebrates this ruling as a win, but we must not forget the over 71,000 people who have been forced to await their asylum cases in Mexico, including vulnerable populations such as LGBTQ+ migrants and those with severe health conditions.  

 The “Remain in Mexico” policy has imposed irreversible harm on migrant communities. During the Trump Administration, there were at least 1,544 reported cases of violent attacks against people returned to Mexico, including murder, torture, and assault. Under Biden, the program has not been any safer and has continued to block asylum seekers from accessing legal counsel or obtaining a fair chance at asylum. 

 We urge the Biden Administration to immediately end “Remain in Mexico” and allow all enrolled in the program to await their cases in the United States. However, this policy must not and cannot be replaced with increased detention, expulsion, and surveillance of migrant families and asylum seekers in the United States. Instead, we urge the Administration to invest in opt-in community-based support services that offer migrants the tools to thrive, rather than continue the cycle of cruelty and suffering. 

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 The Quixote Center empowers vulnerable families and communities to become the artisans of their own destiny through transforming oppressive systems and structures. Inspired by liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching, we do this through sustainable development, advocacy, economic justice, environmental, and educational initiatives. Our current focus is on Nicaragua and Haiti, where we support programs to empower impoverished families and communities, and support for migrants in Mexico and Central America, where we work to mitigate the damage of US immigration policies. Together with our partners, we dream of a world more justly loving. 

 

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Quixote Center Denounces Preliminary Injunction on Title 42

Quixote Center Denounces Preliminary Injunction on Title 42;  Continues Call for Restoration of Asylum 

 Washington D.C.Today a federal court in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction against the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s decision to end Title 42. This decision means that the United States Border Patrol is required to continue to expel migrants immediately upon encounter, thus, denying refugees access to asylum or other humanitarian relief. 

“We are greatly dismayed by the court’s decision to continue to deny asylum seekers their right to seek safety,” stated the Quixote Center in response. “Title 42 is a failed policy that has been proven to do nothing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, nor has it been effective at deterring migration. There have been 1,934,097 expulsions under Title 42 since it went into effect in March of 2020.” 

On April 1, 2021, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the controversial set of public health rules used to close off asylum access would be ended on May 23, 2022.  

In response, the attorneys general of Louisiana, Arizona, and Missouri immediately filed a lawsuit to block the Biden administration from halting Title 42 enforcement. Eventually, seventeen more states joined the suit. U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays of Louisiana issued an injunction in April intended to keep the Biden administration from winding down Title 42 enforcement. Judge Summerhays issued the ruling today, arguing that “the Plaintiff States have established a substantial likelihood of success based on the CDC’s failure to comply with the rulemaking requirements of the [Administrative Procedure Act].” 

“Keeping the cruel and illegal Title 42 policy in place will only serve to place migrant families and adults back into the dangerous conditions they are fleeing,” continued the Quixote Center. “Asylum is a universal human right, and we will not stop working to restore an asylum system that welcomes people fleeing violence and persecution in a humane and dignified manner.” 

 

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Central American Jesuits’ statement on closure of Asociación Roncalli and IHCA

The following is press release from the Jesuit’s Central American Province and was shared to us by our partners at the  Asociación Roncalli. We have translated it into English, you may find the original version HERE

THE SOCIETY OF JESUS’ CENTRAL AMERICAN PROVINCE PRESS RELEASE

We want to communicate to the Nicaraguan people and to the friends of Nicaragua beyond our borders the following:

  1. On May 9, in the Official Gazette, Issue 83, the cancellation of the legal status of the Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli Association (formerly known as the Juan XXIII Institute) and the Central American Historical Institute (IHCA) was published. Both institutions belong to the mission of the Society of Jesus in Nicaragua.
  2. The IHCA was founded in 1981 as a center for analysis, communication, and social action, positioning itself as the preferential option for the poorest in its service to the Nicaraguan people. For more than four decades, IHCA was dedicated to researching, analyzing and publicizing the national and Central American reality through the magazine “Envio”; accompanying training and organization programs with people disabled by war; training boys, girls, teenagers, and youth in leadership development; and accompanying migrants and their families in the advocacy for and defense of their rights. This benefited hundreds of people across different departments of the country.
  3. The “Asociación Ángelo Giuseppe Roncalli” was born in 1961 under the name JUAN XXIII INSTITUTE OF RESEARCH AND SOCIAL ACTION, being the first institute of the nascent Central American University (UCA). In the 1980s, when the research aspect was passed to the UCA’s faculties, the name was changed to “Institute of Social Action Juan XXIII”. Later, in August 2015, in response to the development of the work and the mission, it changed its name to “Asociación Ángelo Giuseppe Roncalli”, a legal entity that had been established in 1994 by Fr. Antonio Fernández Ibáñez, SJ, then director of the Institute. The site was known as the Roncalli-Juan XXIII Association. Its mission was to contribute to the effective exercise of the human right of Nicaraguans to have access to decent housing and health, through sustainable management in the construction of low-income housing and the subsidized sale of medicines; thus fostering the self-management capacity of people “in their communities”. At the time of closure, it was present throughout the national territory through its different programs: housing (50 municipalities, 3,857 homes built, 15,430 beneficiaries); health (66 municipalities, 122 community farmicies, 42 mobile teams, 350,000 beneficiaries per year); and integral ecology projects (110 communities, 17,740 producers benefited).
  4. We want to assure that both the IHCA and the Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli Association, in exercising their mission to serve the Nicaraguan people, always observed and complied with the laws in force in the country and the Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua. The ethics, professionalism, and moral solvency of both institutions and the staff that collaborated with them is more than proven by the beneficiaries of their respective missions.
  5. The Society of Jesus regrets the closure of the IHCA and the Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli Association, which since their foundation have been dedicated to ensuring that the most vulnerable populations in Nicaragua can come to “have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10, 10 ).
  6. Given this reality, the Society of Jesus wishes to state that it will continue with its mission of accompanying the Nicaraguan people.

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 11, 2022.

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The Biden Administration Must Restore Safe and Just Asylum

April 1, 2022 | Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1st, 2022

 

CONTACT: Alexandra Gulden

alexandra@quixote.org

301-699-0042

 

The Biden Administration Must Restore Safe and Just Asylum

Washington D.C.—Today, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a new order terminating the Title 42 order on May 23rd. Under the Trump-era policy, U.S. border officials were allowed to summarily expel or turn away over a million migrants and asylum seekers. The Quixote Center issued the following statement in response:

“We applaud CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for heeding the calls of immigration advocates, public health experts, and over 100 members of Congress in honoring the promise to end Title 42 once and for all. The Title 42 order was never about protecting public health, but rather a means to deny largely Black and Brown migrants the ability to seek asylum, a universal human right.

“This policy has caused irreparable harm. In two years, U.S. immigration officials have carried out over 1.7 million expulsions, the majority of these under the Biden Administration. As a result, there have been nearly 10,000 cases of violent attacks against asylum seekers, including kidnapping, torture, murder, and assault. The Administration has sent back over 20,000 Haitians, including pregnant women, children, and infants, since January of 2021.

“We also call on the Biden Administration to cease treating asylum seekers as criminals, and instead approach vulnerable children, families, and single adults with the dignity and care that they deserve. Between now and May 23rd, the Biden administration must extend to Black and Brown migrants fleeing violence in their home countries the very same welcoming that has been given to Ukrainian refugees.

“Now is the time to ensure that asylum seekers will no longer be expelled back to the dangers they are fleeing, detained in inhumane conditions, or subjected to invasive surveillance. Over the next two months, we call on the Biden Administration to work with service providers, communities, and advocates to safely welcome migrants and asylum seekers and process their claims as stipulated under U.S. and international law.”

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The Quixote Center empowers vulnerable families and communities to become the artisans of their own destiny through transforming oppressive systems and structures. Inspired by liberation theology and Catholic Social Teaching, we do this through sustainable development, advocacy, economic justice, environmental, and educational initiatives. Our current focus is on Nicaragua and Haiti, where we support programs to empower impoverished families and communities, and support for migrants in Mexico and Central America, where we work to mitigate the damage of US immigration policies. Together with our partners, we dream of a world more justly loving.

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Press Release: Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Call on the CDC to Restore Asylum

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 21, 2022

CONTACT: Alexandra Gulden
alexandra@quixote.org
504-495-6970

Washington D.C.—“We are here today, marking the second anniversary of the public health order known as Title 42,” stated Quixote Center Executive Director Kim Lamberty, DMin. “We present ourselves at the DC offices of the Center of Disease control to call on the CDC to renounce and put an end to this order, which denies families, children, and adults arriving at the southern border their right to seek asylum in the United States. Over 20,600 Haitians—including pregnant women, children and babies—have been sent back to Haiti. There is no public health justification for Title 42. We call on the Biden Administration to rescind the order and restore an orderly, welcoming, and just asylum system.”

March 20th will mark two years since Title 42 was first implemented. On March 21st, asylum seekers in Nogales are bravely taking to the streets to reenact the Way of the Cross, drawing parallels between Jesus’ journey to death and the violence migrants face along theirs. Today, we—along with faith leaders,  immigrants’ rights advocates, and human rights defenders across the country—stand in solidarity with their call for justice. 

The harm that the Title 42 policy has caused is irreparable. Over one million migrants and asylum seekers have been denied the opportunity to seek asylum, a universal human right. And since President Biden took office, there have been at least 9,866 reports of violent attacks—including rape, kidnapping, and assault—against people blocked in or expelled to Mexico under Title 42. 

“The Title 42 expulsion order was never based on sound science, even during the early months of the pandemic. However, with vaccines and other effective public health strategies now widely available, the faulty rationale for keeping the Title 42 order in place is more than intellectually bankrupt, it is morally reprehensible,” said Michele Heisler, MD, MPA, medical director at PHR and professor of internal medicine and public health at the University of Michigan. “Time and time again since March 2020, leading medical experts have shown that there is no public health justification for Title 42. We know what works to protect people from COVID-19, including masks, testing, and vaccines—certainly not discriminatory expulsions of asylum seekers. Instead of protecting public health, the Title 42 order violates the right to seek asylum and fuels an unnecessary humanitarian crisis mere yards from the U.S. border. Two years into this cruel policy, it’s past time to end Title 42 expulsions.” 

“The outpouring of compassion and solidarity for Ukrainian refugees is a critical reminder of our global responsibility to offer a safe haven for all those seeking refuge, without discrimination,” said Kathryn Hampton, MSt, MA, deputy director of the PHR Asylum Program. “Ukrainian refugees arriving at the U.S. southern border face the same inhumane policy that other asylum seekers have been facing for almost two years — summary expulsions with no chance to seek asylum under the Title 42 order. Thousands of Ukrainians are joining the thousands of Mexican, Haitian, Central American, and African asylum seekers who have also been waiting for the chance to seek refuge, but who have been turned away because of the Title 42 expulsion order. Families with small children, elderly people, people with serious medical conditions, and people with disabilities are sleeping on the ground outside U.S. ports of entry or in crowded tent encampments. Whether applied to a Honduran, a Cameroonian, or a Ukrainian, the Title 42 order is a profound injustice.”

 “Today, across the country faith-leaders, public health officials, human rights advocates, and concerned individuals are taking on the streets in solidarity with asylum seekers demanding that the administration restore access to asylum humanely and end Title 42. For two-years Title 42, an obscure provision of public health law, has been weaponized by both the Trump and Biden administrations to deny families, children, and adults arriving at the southern border their right to seek asylum in the United States for two years,” said Melina Roche, #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign Manager. “Today, I’m proud to stand with #WelcomeWithDignity partners outside the CDC office in Washington, DC to demand the agency to listen to public health experts and finally put an end to Title 42 – a policy that does not protect public health.”

“On March 12, 2022, the CDC Director terminated with respect to unaccompanied noncitizen children an Order under Title 42,” said Lorena Del Pilar Bonilla MD, Doctors For Camp Closure Co-Founder. “This essentially now means that unaccompanied noncitizen children will not be expelled from the United States under CDC’s order. Doctors For Camp Closure urges the Biden administration to terminate these harmful policies like Title 42. We ask that our government ensure that people fleeing persecution and torture can request asylum at the border, including at ports of entry. There is no public health justification to continue to enforce Title 42 and we want our country to get back on track by respecting human rights access to asylum.”

“America’s welcome mat is quite tattered and stained following the anti-immigration efforts of the last five years. The National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd had hoped that America would put out a fresh clean welcome mat with President Biden’s arrival in the White House, but thus far we are disappointed. We call on the President, his White House and the CDC to remember their compassion and purpose, and the first thing they can do is to rescind Title 42 and cease expelling migrants immediately under this faulty judgment,” said Fran Eskin-Royer, Executive Director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

 “As people of faith, we are called to love our neighbor without distinction. Title 42 dishonors the dignity of migrants and violates the internationally recognized right to seek asylum. President Biden must act in accordance with his Catholic faith and end the racist Title 42 policy before more people are subject to violence and persecution,” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

“Title 42 expulsions have got to stop,” said Susan Gunn, Director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “The harm inflicted on those who seek safety at our borders and are turned away cries out to heaven. We must end this disastrous policy and create a robust system of asylum processing for our migrant brothers and sisters who arrive at our Southern border. With enough resources, we can create a just and efficient asylum system at the border – we just need the will to do it. As Christians we are called to extend mercy and welcome, and we urge the CDC and the Administration to allow us to live out this mission.”

The Quixote Center calls on the CDC to end Title 42 and restore an orderly, welcoming, and just asylum system. We are joined by the Haitian Bridge Alliance, United We Dream, the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign, Physicians for Human Rights, the NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, Pax Christi USA, Franciscan Action Network, the Latin American Working Group, Detention Watch Network, Doctors for Camp Closure, Oxfam, Human Rights First, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, CISPES: Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, and the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

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Thank you, Chuck Kaufman!

For information and to register for online memorial service for Chuck Kaufman: https://afgj.org/chuck-kaufman-memorial

I knew I was going to write something to honor my friend Chuck Kaufman, who died last week in Tucson. At first it was a poem (shared below). As I started to write something more, I realized I was writing about myself. Everything I know about Chuck has come from working with him or in spaces he helped to create. Indeed, a big part of my life has been lived on top of foundations that Chuck was instrumental in laying down.  

In 1994, fresh out of school, I began volunteering with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Central America (CISCAP) in Eugene, OR.The first organizing activity I was involved in was a counter-mobilization to the official celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Bretton Woods Agreement – the agreement that created the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (which later morphed into the World Bank Group). The counter mobilization led to my first conversation with Chuck Kaufman. The Nicaragua Network (Chuck, Kathy Hoyt, and especially Soren Ambrose) was part of organizing much of the preparation for the activities.  It was the first of many such conversations. 

The following year I met Chuck in person during a coordinating meeting for a nascent Zapatista solidarity network. Later in the year, I met Chuck and Kathy Hoyt on my way to Nicaragua for the first time with Witness for Peace – the Nicaragua Network being one of the organizations assisting with orientation for our delegation. I moved to D.C. in 1996, working first with the Witness for Peace national office and then in grad school in College Park. Throughout it all, Chuck was ever present. In 1998, what was by now the Alliance for Global Justice, co-coordinated the founding conference for what would become the Mexico Solidarity Network. I attended, having just returned from Chiapas with Witness for Peace. A couple of years later, (April 2000) the Alliance was one of the organizers of the Mobilization for Global Justice, a call for mass civil disobedience aimed at shutting down the IMF and World Bank spring meetings. I bumped into Chuck in Philly later in the year protesting the Republican National Convention. I even interviewed Chuck and Kathy several times for my dissertation on international solidarity and labor rights in Nicaragua.

A year after that I was marching with tens of thousands of other people against the looming war in Afghanistan, and later, Iraq. Again, Chuck was in the middle of all of this as a founding member of the board for the international ANSWER coalition. 

Once I started working at the Quixote Center in late 2001, I was often working alongside Chuck and Kathy, be it the Stop CAFTA Coalition (in which CISPES played a huge role), co-organizing several Latin American Solidarity Conferences, and any number of smaller protests in D.C. 

By the late 2000s I had moved to Houston (and left the Quixote Center for a while). The Alliance (and Chuck) moved to Tucson. Although I did not see Chuck much in person after that, our work still connected us. He was part of the Occupy Wall Street “occupation” of Freedom Plaza in D.C. in 2011-2012. He showed up again with water defenders in 2014, and through the fiscal sponsorship program of the Alliance for Global Justice, was part of the support network for the Black Lives Matter movement and a host of other organizations. Chuck remained committed to the cause of Venezuelan solidarity long after it was fashionable on the left to do so. He also led or sponsored many delegations to Honduras and Colombia through the years. 

If this tribute to Chuck seems overly autobiographical on my part, it is the result of Chuck’s commitment to, and capacity for organizing. To be sure, everything noted above was the result of the labor of many people, and in some individual cases, Chuck’s role may have been relatively small. However, he was always there, and not just in attendance as I often was, but more often having played some role in making the event happen. This story can be told by hundreds, if not thousands, of other activists whose lives at some point intersected with Chuck or a project he or the Alliance played a role in creating or supporting. Indeed, so many people that it is not really “my” story any more.  

The best organizers build. In Chuck’s case, alongside many others at the Nicaragua Network and Alliance for Global Justice, he built a dense ecosystem of organizations that invite many, many people in, and make a place for them. 

So, it seems to me the best tribute I can make to you, Chuck, is to simply say thank you for inviting me in, and making a place for me and so many others in the movement. Even if we had never met, I would have done this work. But I would not have done many of the things I ended up doing without your labor, friendship and camaraderie. Thank you!!!

P.S. When I read that you died, I wrote this poem. I share it again.

Chuck, 
this morning 
I heard the news
of your passing.
For a moment 
I thought, somewhat selfishly,
that we should have had
that virtual lunch we spoke of,
a few months ago,
but then never planned. 
It had been too long
since we spoke,
and now…

The light has been passed on,
or more precisely,
the flame, not extinguished
but shared once more;
diluted in the air above Tucson,
and nourishing the ground.

But this is how you lived,
passing the torch,
one person, one formation.
one movement at a time.

Your life,
at least that portion of it you shared with me,
was the waves that ripple out
from the stones throw,
– that sinking, all encompassing
call to justice;
waves touching and lifting
those around you. 

So, when we say “presente”
it is a presence called into being,
from the many lives you’ve enriched.
Like the water and the flame,
you have been elemental.

And all that said, Chuck,
mostly, and somewhat selfishly,
I’m just really going to miss you.

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Quixote Center Denounces Title 42 Extension & MPP Expansion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 7, 2021

CONTACT: info@quixote.org

Greenbelt, MD–On Friday, the CDC announced it would extend migrant expulsions under Title 42; and today, the Biden administration will return its first group under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) 2.0, or “Remain in Mexico.” The Quixote Center condemns the continuation of both Trump-era policies. Though Biden promised to “end Trump’s detrimental asylum policies” on the campaign trail, he has continued to systematically deny migrants their right to asylum.

In August, a district court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate MPP in “good faith.” However, expanding the program to include the entire Western Hemisphere goes far beyond the court order’s limits. The Biden administration has not only broken its promise to dismantle the Trump administration’s racist and xenophobic immigration policies, but has instead doubled down on denying asylum seekers their right to seek safety in the United States.

MPP remains unsafe for asylum seekers, as well as their legal representatives. During MPP’s last iteration, there were over 1,544 cases of violent attacks—including murder, assault, and kidnapping—reported against migrants in the program. Furthermore, non-native Spanish speakers from Haiti and other Caribbean nations face an even greater risk of racially-motivated violence and discrimination. There are some exceptions written into the law for groups deemed vulnerable; however, in practice these rules have been irregularly applied, even forcing individuals with serious mental and physical health conditions into the program.

The CDC’s decision to renew Title 42 is appalling, but not surprising. In total, over one million people were summarily expelled at the US/Mexico border under Title 42 during FY 2021. Former CDC officials have testified that the order was not based on public health concerns. Instead, it remains a discriminatory tool to summarily expel any migrant—including families and young children—back to the danger from which they are fleeing. There have been 7647 recorded attacks against migrants expelled under Title 42.

Since Biden’s inauguration, there have been around 123 ICE Air flights to Haiti, expelling an estimated 12,000 Haitian asylum seekers. A significant percentage of these flights were conducted under Title 42, but our concern is that MPP will become yet another anti-black mechanism to expel and mistreat Haitian migrants. We call on the Biden administration to follow through on the promise to reinstate asylum at the border, and respect international law in treating migrants with dignity.

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To join us in calling on the Biden administration to end Title 42 & MPP, sign our petition HERE

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Haitians in Mexico face harsh conditions, discrimination

“The racism against people and families from Haiti – for those who have been victims of violence, trauma and family separation – is institutional.”  

On Saturday, September 11, Mexican immigration authorities working alongside the National Guard launched an operation that led to the arrest and detention of 400 migrants from Central America and Caribbean. Later in the morning, 150 of them, all Haitians, were expelled from Mexico into Guatemala. According to newsource, Arestegui, they were driven to the border crossing at Carmen in the department of San Marcos, Guatemala. “There, they abandoned the more than 150 Haitian migrants, including children, women and men, to block their re-entry to Chiapas.”

On Monday, September 13, hundreds of Haitians, alongside migrants from Cuba and countries of Africa, gathered in the central square in Tapachula demanding permission to leave the state. This follows several caravans of Haitians and others who have tried to leave Tapachula over the past two weeks, only to be turned back, often violently, by INM and the Guardia. 

The majority of migrants entering into southern Mexico continue to be from Central America, but there has also been an increase in the number of migrants from Haiti, many of whom have applied for asylum or refugee status. Nearly all of whom have been trapped in or near Tapachula, Tabasco while waiting – some for close to two years.  According to Mexican Senator Emilio Álvarez, as of September 7 of the 137,000 migrants present in southern Mexico, 30,000 were Haitian nationals. Other sources show that as of the end of August, of the 55,000 people who have applied for asylum in the Tapachula office of COMAR this year, 19,000 are Haitians.  

Haitians arriving in Mexico over the last two years are mostly coming from Brazil and Chile, where economic pressure and nativist/racist backlashes have led to more restrictive immigration laws and declining work opportunities. The ongoing political crisis in Haiti is also leading people to look for a way out, many traveling to South America through the Dominican Republic and then up through Central America. Whether people’s journeys from Haiti started 10 years ago or 10 months ago, the trip is long, extremely dangerous and expensive. In Mexico, people are stuck near the Guatemala border awaiting legal status that will provide mobility within Mexico.

The crisis along Mexico’s southern border is the direct result of pressure from the United States government, which has demanded that Mexico block the passage of Central American migrants and others. Such pressure is not new. Clinton, Bush and Obama pressed the government of Mexico on migration. Trump, however, took it to extremes, blackmailing the government of Mexico under threat of trade sanctions to halt migration. Biden has not relented in this pressure. Though more reliant on carrots (promises of vaccine support) rather than sticks (sanctions), Biden has nevertheless pressed Mexico repeatedly to block the movement of people migrating toward the US-Mexico border.

As a result, since 2019 Mexico has further militarized its southern border and placed restrictions on the movement of migrants. Under pressure from Biden back in April of this year, the Mexican government agreed to send up to 10,000 more National Guardsmen to the southern border to assist with immigration enforcement. 

In 2019, Mexico also changed rules covering temporary, oficios de salida or “exit visas.” Prior to the summer of 2019, people arriving in southern Mexico could receive a visa for 15 to 30 days – allowing them time to apply for a change in status. Many traveled to the border with the United States. Visas now require exit through the nearest (for most) southern border, leaving people with the option of applying for asylum, or other change of status within that time frame. If trying to reach the United States immediately, they must do cross Mexico in an unauthorized manner. 

For Haitians, Cubans, and others from Africa and Asia, simply returning back to Central America is not really an option; indeed, this was not even possible for most 2020 because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

In October of 2020 there were caravans protesting these new visa rules and other restrictions on mobility for asylum seekers; rules that require people to stay within the border of the state within which they sought asylum – for the vast majority of Haitians this is Chiapas. The resulting caravans were violently repressed by the National Guard in a preview of what we are seeing now.

Meanwhile, COMAR is overwhelmed. Legally required to issue asylum decisions within 45 days, COMAR is now taking months, and in some cases, years to make a determination.

The result is a simmering crisis fueled by human rights violations and an asylum system backlogged to the breaking point.

Much of the above may seem episodic in the sense that the backlog and new rules have resulted from a very particular convergence of issues, all exacerbated by COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, for Haitians and other black migrants, there remains a long standing tradition of discriminatory treatment at the hands of Mexico’s immigration authorities.

In September of 2019, the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) raised specific concerns regarding the Mexican government’s treatment of migrants as part of its review of the government’s fulfillment of obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Concerns included the “negative impact of the work of the National Guard on migration control and the use of racial profiling by migration authorities, which has led to arbitrary detention and systematic refoulement without adequate legal advice.” Finally, the CERD noted, “concern that the phenomenon of migrant caravans has led to an increase in discourse informed by discriminatory views, racial hatred and xenophobia targeting migrants.” 

As a result of these findings, the CERD made several recommendations for reform, including a review of the deployment of the National Guard with a view toward “withdrawing it from that task,” and also called for thorough investigations of “all acts of discrimination, excessive use of force and abuse of authority committed against migrants.”

In June of this year a coalition of organizations in Mexico issued a statement against the government for its failure to implement these recommendations. They wrote, 

The racism against people and families from Haiti – for those who have been victims of violence, trauma and family separation – is institutional. One of these cases is Maxene André who died on the 6th of August 2019 inside the Migration Centre “Siglo XXI” in Tapachula, Chiapas. André was sick and isolated for 15 days out of the 20 days that he was in detention.

The response by the Mexican government and institutions has incited xenophobia and discrimination against migrants entering through the southern border, particularly by deploying the INM at the borders in collaboration with the NGF and members from the SEDENA to stop migrants and asylum seekers to enter, especially through the southern border. 

The attacks against the migrant caravan earlier this month is thus a reminder of the Mexican government’s ongoing failure to implement necessary reforms to address violations against migrants, including the failure to take steps to respond to the specific needs of migrants from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. 

Within Mexico, human rights organizations are speaking out about the situation, and demanding that the government make reform immediately. The calls for reforms include providing migrants work authorizations that would allow them to travel beyond the boundaries of Chiapas while they await a decision on their asylum claims. The United States is also called out for its relentless pressure on Mexico to halt the movement of people approaching the US border.

For those of us in the United States, this last message is crucial. What is being discussed as a border crisis, at both the northern and southern borders of Mexico, cannot be separated from the United States government’s relentless campaign against asylum. Trump launched an all out war against asylum – at a time when border crossing was actually at a low point. Now, with institutions degraded and processes uncertain, Biden seems to simply be doubling down, blocking avenues to asylum in the hopes that doing so will deter enough people from trying to come here that he can buy some time to implement reform.

It is demonstrably not working.

The consequences are tens of thousands of people left stranded in Chiapas, and thousands more left stranded in the United States, as seen under the bridge in Del Rio, Texas. 

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