Daily Dispatch 12/5/18


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Daily Dispatch

December 5, 2018


All politics are local…

On his first full day as Mecklenburg County Sheriff Wednesday, Garry McFadden notified the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that it was ending the county’s 287(g) agreement, according to a news release.

The bed-rental program will bring in in more than $10 million by the end of 2018, up from $8.3 million last year for housing detainees, officials said. The 2018 revenue would be the most since at least 2015, documents show. McHenry County administrator Peter Austin said the take in is among the most, if not the most, the contract has ever raised for the county in any one year.

San Luis Obispo County sheriff turned over 87 immigrants to ICE in 2017. This year, it’s zero thanks to “sanctuary state” laws.

Denver courts are part of new Department of Justice program to expedite family asylum proceedings.

See our guide to local actions to challenge immigration policy.

Other news…

Sarah Knopp  writes in Jacobin a few days ago – the so called “private violence” that people are fleeing is very much rooted in state policies, and should not disqualify people from seeking asylum.

Mexico’s new president wants to have a good relationship with Trump and is expecting talks on immigration soon (hard to see that going well….)

Trump considering charging a fee for immigrants applying for asylum.

European nationalists respond to new UN Pact on migration.

 


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Daily Dispatch 12/04/18


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InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

December 4, 2018


Top story…

400 former Department of Justice officials send letter denouncing Whitaker’s appointment as acting Attorney General. As Attorney General Whitaker potentially has the authority to make unilateral decisions on immigration rules. Michael Cohen writes in the Boston Globe that Whitaker must go.

 

Asylum…

Asylum denials at an all time high.

 

In the courts…

A federal appeals court has struck down a portion of federal law that makes it a crime to encourage foreigners to enter or reside in the United States illegally.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the provision violates the First Amendment by covering speech that is constitutionally protected.

A judge in Boston is under fire from the governor. She is accused of helping a defendant avoid arrest by ICE agents who sought to detain him after criminal hearing.

 

Fact checking….

Trump tweets that illegal immigration costs the United States $250 billion a year…it doesn’t.

 

Around the world…

Danish government presents plan to relocate some immigrants to a mostly deserted island, also the site of a research facility for infectious animal diseases.

 


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Haiti Program Update 11/2/2018

Earthquake News, Disaster Relief

The northern departments of Haiti were struck by a powerful earthquake on October 6. The quake was centered in Port-de-Paix, but also severely affected Gros Morne, where several schools and the pediatric ward of the hospital were damaged or destroyed, as well as many homes. Thanks to many of you, we were able to deliver $3,000 to Haiti last week to help with the purchase of emergency supplies to assist people in need of shelter.

Over the last few weeks communities near Gros Morne have had a chance to take stock of the damage. There was significant damage done to 500 homes in the immediate area. Some photos here from Perou demonstrate the impact. We will continue to coordinate activities with our partners in Gros Morne to discern next steps.

Other Program News

The program that Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center had another busy quarter. From July through September the program distributed just over 17,000 saplings through satellite nurseries in the nearby communities of Koray, Danti, and Moulen. Accompanying the delivery of saplings in these communities and elsewhere, Center staff held trainings that reached 700 people.

In addition to the reforestation efforts, the Formation Center conducted a variety of workshops: Engaging  Environmental Education with 43 teachers in Danti, How to Begin a Community Tree Nursery also in Danti, a workshop on Reforestation and the Creation of Yard Gardens for 209 participants in Chato. In total workshops covered 4 zones and reached 420 people.

Some other activities include

  • Center staff assisted in the planting of 28.75 karos (just over 90 acres) of weevil resistant sweet potatoes.
  • The seed bank supported by the Formation Center delivered seeds to 123 families
  • 47 families taking part in the yard garden program were able to begin harvesting, and another 27 new families joined in the program.
  • The mobile veterinary clinic was able to provide care to many animals including 250 goats and sheep and 5 horses.

A final note, as you will be reading more about in our next newsletter, the Formation Center hosted a second annual conference on the environment in August. Quixote Center staff participated in the conference, alongside students from agronomy programs in the national university system and local farmers and activists. We look forward to attending again next year!

Migration

In other news, the Dominican Republic continues to deport Haitians in alarming numbers. Migration control teams composed of inspectors and agents of the Directorate General of Migration, in coordination with the military and National Police, continue to engage in enforcement actions. Recent operations led to arrest of 1,167 Haitians, 877 of whom were removed from the country. As we have reported here, the situation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic continues to be insecure.

On a more positive note, CARICOM has issued new rules on migration that allow people to travel within CARICOM members states without a visa for up to six months. The move was an initial step toward allowing the free movement of people within CARICOM member states, which include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago

 

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Daily Dispatch Focus on Migrant Caravan 10/24/2018

A sampling of today’s headlines on immigration, race, and related stories.

October 24, 2018

Caravan Edition

Latest Caravan News

Powerful photo essay published yesterday in The Atlantic.

Another photo essay here from the BBC.

Crackdown on migrant caravan is a violation of international law.

Report from Huixtla, Mexico from New York Times, as the caravan begins its 12th day: “This is straight-up biblical,” said Julio Raúl García Márquez, 43, a Guatemalan traveling with his wife, their 1-year-old son and a cousin. They spent part of the night on sheets of cardboard in the central square.”

Journalist José Luis Granados Ceja accompanies the caravan across border between Mexico and Guatemala. “We’re not migrating, we’re fleeing!”

Honduran migrants take part in a caravan heading to the US, on the road linking Ciudad Hidalgo and Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 21, 2018. – Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo, AFP journalists at the scene said. (Photo by Pedro Pardo / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

Reality Checks

Human Rights First – Myths vs Facts about the caravan.

ISIS? Caravaners attack Mexico’s police? And other lies revealed here.

Luke Barnes and Rebekah Entralgo cover (and debunk) some of the false stories circulating about the caravan.

Background articles on migration

Alianza America’s Oscar Chacon discusses what the caravan is “really telling us.”

U.S. policy supports Honduran “tyrant” – Op-ed from Silvio Carrillo in New York Times (from Dec. 2017)

Mark Tseng-Putterman argues “U.S. empire thrives on amnesia….There can be no common-sense immigration “debate” that conveniently ignores the history of U.S. intervention in Central America.” He offers detailed timelines concerning interventions in EL Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. (from June 2018)

National Geographic snapshot about gangs in Honduras (from Feb. 2018)

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Haiti Update: Earthquake Recovery and PetroCaribe Protests

Haiti was struck with a powerful earthquake Saturday, October 6. The quake was centered near Port-de-Paix.  Thus far, reports are that 17 people died, and over 300 were seriously injured. Outside of Port-de-Paix, the city that suffered the most damage is Gros Morne.

Reports from Gros Morne are that 7 people are confirmed dead. Dozens of people have been treated for broken limbs, with many being sent to hospitals in Gonaives or St. Marc for further treatment.

Damage to buildings is widespread. For example, St. Gabriel’s school lost its second story where 7th and 8th grade classes were held. The auditorium next to St. Gabriel’s totally collapsed. The Kay Vizite hospital guest house is uninhabitable. The Lycee public high school sustained damage; it may be two months before students can return to class. Many houses were damaged.

Our partners in Gros Morne, based at the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center, where we have been working for 19 years, seem to be all accounted for. Father Charles and the Center director, Guy Marie Garçon reached out to everyone on the team, and everyone working at the center made it through.

Below are images from Gros Morne, including the community of Perou.

Emergency response

We are raising funds for immediate assistance to provide shelter for people whose homes were destroyed or are now structurally unsafe. We have raised just over $2,000 from an earlier e-mail appeal, and hope to send this and more in the coming week. We are also raising funds for longer-term assistance, to including support for people whose homes have been damaged. If you would like to make a donation, you can do that here.

Where is the Money? October 17 PetroCaribe Protests

Hundreds of thousands of people went to the streets this week to demand accountability for mismanagement of PetroCaribe funds. Protests were seen all around the country and were by and large peaceful. However, in Port-au-Prince, the police opened fire on demonstrators after a confrontation in which police tried to clear a road for a presidential caravan. Several police officers were injured by thrown rocks. The police retaliated with live ammunition, shooting at least 13 people, two of whom died.

For more background on the PetroCaribe initiative, the protests and the broader political context, check out this excellent background article by Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, published just before the protests.

This movement is not going away. As the economic situation in the country continues to deteriorate, and ongoing frustrations with the political process mount, demonstrations are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The accusations of fraud and outright theft of funds from the PetroCaribe account are symptomatic of the deep structural inequalities in Haiti – and thus the anger, and the demands for change are reflective of these deeper issues. The cross-class coalition that has come together in opposition to the current government and its handling of this and other recent crises, could well become a longer-lasting political force in the country.  

 

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NICA Act 2.0: It’s back and even worse than before

The Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act has been floating around congress since 2015. The main idea behind the bill is to direct the U.S. Executive Branch to use its voting power in multilateral lending institutions to block any new loans for Nicaragua until a set of reforms regarding elections and transparency is implemented.

The latest version of the bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in October of 2017. A companion bill was then introduced into the Senate by Ted Cruz (R-TX). This Senate version (S. 2265) was similar to the House version, but added provisions for investigation into the activity of “other regimes” in Nicaragua – principally Venezuela and Russia. This version of the NICA Act was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where it sat with no action until September of this year.

During the last week of September, NICA Act was given new life with a companion bill introduced by Robert Menendez (D-NJ), called the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2018 (S. 3233). The new bill was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 26, and is heading for a floor debate some time soon. The twist is that Menendez’s original bill was fused with the NICA Act in this latest version, creating a broad set of sanctions that will impact Nicaragua’s access to international financial institutions while also punishing individuals in Nicaragua.

Specifically, the new bill:

  • Directs the Executive to use the influence of the U.S. government to oppose the extension of new loans or agreements with Nicaragua through the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund;
  • Calls for sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act – which allows the U.S. executive to seize assets of individuals from other countries it deems responsible for human rights abuse or political corruption, and also employ other sanctions;
  • Calls for restricting visas for travel to the United States to individuals in the Nicaraguan government and their associates;
  • Calls for annual reporting on the state of Nicaragua’s democracy;
  • Directs agencies to create a “civil society” engagement strategy – which in the current context largely means expanding support for groups in opposition to the government;
  • Is enacted until 2023, although provisions can be waived if Nicaragua adopts reforms that satisfy U.S. policy-makers.

If passed, the U.S. government will be committing itself to increased intervention that would do serious harm to Nicaragua’s economy – already reeling from a collapse in investment and capital flight. By incorporating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act the bill leaves the path open for the President to go even further than individual sanctions in punishing Nicaragua.

The Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2018 (S. 3233) is a bad idea. It goes much further than the original NICA Act, which we have opposed from the beginning. It has the potential of doing grave harm to the people of Nicaragua, and seems intent on deepening the polarization in the country at a time when the United States, if it is to do anything, should be limiting its role to encouraging dialogue (without imposing predetermined outcomes on the dialogue – as the U.S. has done thus far). This new bill will simply make it that much harder for groups to come together and reach a political settlement to the ongoing crisis.

You can call your Senators at the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Tell them “No to sanctions” in S. 3233, and yes to encouraging a return to dialogue unencumbered by U.S. intervention!

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Haiti Update: Vote on New Government?, PetroCaribe, and Immigrants Arrested in Bolivia

Update: Jean Henry Céant was confirmed as Haiti’s new Prime Minister following votes in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies on Saturday, September 16. 

In July, widespread protests in Haiti following an announced cut in fuel subsidies led to the resignation of Prime Minister Guy Jack Lafontant and dissolution of the cabinet. Since the resignation, Haiti has been without a functioning government. President Moïse nominated Jean Henry Céant to the post of Prime Minister on August 7, but his confirmation in Parliament has been delayed. Last week, with a scheduled recess looming, Céant formally presented his list of proposed ministers to Parliament.

The slate of ministers has proved to be controversial. Of the 18 ministers proposed, 6 were part of Lafontant’s government, and 3 have had their eligibility challenged. One of the nominees, Osner Richard named Minister of the Environment, has already been forced to step down on the basis of his holding dual citizenship (with the United States). Additionally, of the 4 appointed Secretaries of State, 3 were part of the previous government. The selections have led to widespread criticism that Moïse is controlling the selection process in an effort to keep the government under the control of his Haitian Tèt Kale Party (PHTK), despite opposition concerns about the government that led to the resignation of Lafontant back in July.  The PHTK holds the largest bloc of seats in both houses, but is far from a majority in either, and thus must hold together a coalition to get the slate of ministers passed. At this point, the votes do not seem to be there.

Deputy Jerry Tardieu, who represents Pétion-Ville as a member of the Verité party, has been among the outspoken critics of Moïse role in the selection process. From Haiti Libre:

I…recommend that the Executive reconsider the formation of the Government as soon as possible, leaving the designated Prime Minister free to choose leading figures who can inspire confidence in society and give the government a serious image. This indiscriminate insistence on imposing personalities stamped PHTK, even when they are competent, is contrary to the wishes of the living forces of the nation who had opted for the establishment of a government of openness that soothes and builds confidence. It proves that President Jovenel Moïse has still not taken the right measure of the events of July 6 and 7, 2018, does not understand the stakes of the hour and even less the risks for tomorrow.

To the [designated] Prime Minister Céant, I hope that he has the courage to resign if he can not have the free hand, that is to say the freedom to choose credible and competent personalities to form a Government capable of providing solutions immediately.

There was no vote before deputies recessed Monday. However, President Moïse ordered a special session of parliament, calling members back to Port-au-Prince to hold a vote on the new government. We’ll update when we hear the results of the special session.

PetroCaribe

Hanging over the process of selecting a new government is ongoing outrage over embezzlement of money through the PetroCaribe fund. PetroCaribe was a regional effort put forth by the Venezuelan government in 2006, that allowed governments to purchase oil at a discount in order to use funds for development projects. Under PetroCaribe’s agreement, the government purchases oil from Venezuela, paying back 60% of the purchase price within 90 days. The extra funds are to be paid back over 25 years at 1% interest. In theory, the extra funds are to be used to develop infrastructure, at rates below what multilateral lenders would provide.

In October last year a senate committee led by Evallière Beauplan (Northwest Department) released a scathing audit that showed misappropriation of funds through the awarding of $1.7 billion in non-bid contracts for reconstruction projects between 2008 and 2016. The beneficiaries of the contracts included people closely associated with former president Martelly (also of the PHTK) and his prime minister Laurent Lamothe. Some of the accused are part of the current government, like Wilson Laleau, who is Moïse’s chief of staff. Public anger over the corruption, which has left Haiti with over $2 billion in debt to Venezuela with little to show for it, continues to grow and played a significant role in animating the protests in July.

Some examples of the waste include (via the Miami Herald):

[C]onstruction overages that include the ministry of public works paying for 10 miles of road that actually measured 6.5 miles; the signing of a contract between the ministry of public health and a deceased person; large disbursements by government ministers with no documents to support the expenditures, and tens of millions of dollars paid to Dominican and Haitian firms for post-earthquake roads, housing and government ministries that never materialized or weren’t completed.

One of the most blatant allegations involved the reconstruction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, one of 40 government buildings that crumbled during the earthquake. The Dominican firm Hadom was awarded a $14.7 million contract, and paid $10 million up front, to construct the building that remains unbuilt. Hadom’s lucrative Haiti contract is among several given to Dominican firms after the quake that became the subject of separate probes in Haiti and in neighboring Dominican Republic, where Hadom owner and Dominican Senator Félix Bautista was accused of embezzlement. The Bautista case was eventually dropped by the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court.

As the economic situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate – projected growth this year was lowered to 1.2% by the IMF – frustration with the government only increases. A campaign asking Kot Kòb Petwo Karibe a (“Where did the Petro Caribe money go?”) has launched on social media, and protests continue in the streets. The situation remains volatile. It is hard to know how much hinges on the new government, or what space it will have to operate within the confines of the neo-liberal policy constraints Haiti is forced to operate under, but if the new government returns many of the same players back to power, it will only fuel the opposition.

100 Haitians Arrested in Bolivia

Last week we reported on the increasing challenges faced by people who have migrated out of Haiti looking for new opportunities. Earlier this week, over 100 Haitians were arrested in Bolivia as they traveled through the country from Brazil and Chile – two countries where many Haitians have resettled since the earthquake in 2010.

The arrests also included two Haitians and five Bolivians (the four drivers of the buses and a woman who processed tickets), all charged with trafficking.

 

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Church reform is a necessary, but insufficient response to abuse

As most know by now, a grand jury investigated allegations of abuse of children by priests in 5 dioceses in Pennsylvania. Their report was released last month. After years of repeated incidents and revelations about abuse in the church, the report was on one level not surprising. And yet, the details of incidents are very disturbing. The report contains an appendix that documents allegation against 300 priests and illuminates a pattern whereby the priests were shielded from public exposure, moved to new positions, rarely disciplined, and only in a handful of cases prosecuted. It is hard to draw any other conclusion than that church leadership put concern for the institution, both its reputation and material resources, above the people they are expected to serve. Because the instrumental view of parishioners exhibited by this response is so diametrically opposed to the servant leader notion that buttresses the idea of the church, many have simply had enough – once again – with the hypocrisy.

Calls for reform abound, many of which call upon the “culture” of the church to change: These include confronting the clericalism of the church, calling into question celibacy and the requirement that priests be unwed, and demanding transparency from an institution too often clouded in mystery. From the traditionalists in the church, there are accusations of a “cult of homosexuality” in the hierarchy, and, at least in Archbishop Vigano’s charges, an accusation that Pope Francis shields those priests. These latter calls mistakenly equate homosexuality with a tendency to pedophilia, a claim for which there is no empirical standing.  

In discussing the events that have occurred since the grand jury report was issued, it is important to re-center the victims of abuse in the conversation. And here we must also look outside the church itself. In the United States 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Nearly 60,000 children were sexually abused last year alone and we know that reporting of sexual abuse undercounts significantly it’s actual occurrence – indeed it is estimated that only 12% of childhood sexual abuse is ever reported. In almost every case, the perpetrator of sexual abuse is someone known to the child, and one in three is a family member. Boys are more likely to be abused at a younger age – 28% of male victims are abused for the first time before the age of 10, compared to 12.3% of girl victims. 96% of the people who sexually abuse children are male, 80% are adults.

Given the hidden nature of abuse it is hard to know definitively what the trends are. Certainly, as little as it is reported, it is reported more now than in the past. There is more of an effort to provide services to victims and to train caregivers about signals to watch for as indicators of possible abuse. Yet, it still occurs, is still not reported, and often, when reported to those closely connected, it may well be covered up by institutions and families.

With this in mind, it is important to point out that most of the reform ideas put forward have little to do with addressing underlying causes of abuse, or the victims themselves.  The reforms speak more to institutional incentives to cover up abuse. Certainly, on those grounds alone, demanding transparency, demanding that church officials be required to report suspected abuse to civil authorities, and challenging the clericalism that permeates church culture are all important things to do in response to the crisis. But we are still left with men who abuse children, and the reality is that there is nothing exceptional about the men in the Catholic Church on this count.

When I was 13 a male teacher offered me oral sex – not the first teacher to make such offers, but the most direct. I felt like I was marked. Another teacher at the same school had a sexual relationship with a close female friend of mine that lasted over a year – she was 14 when it ended he was 28. Yet another friend was raped by a football player in (a different) high school. She reported it. When she grew angry with the school administration that nothing was done, she was suspended. I could go on. Most of us could, either from personal experience or those of people close to us. Think about that.

And so, I am admittedly bemused by the reform agenda on the Church as a primary response to the abuse “scandal.” As a friend noted a couple of days ago, as we prepared for a demonstration, perhaps that first demand should not be “end patriarchy,” or “woman priests now,” or “down with the hierarchy” (all laudatory goals I would support), but just this:

Stop abusing children!!

And after the demonstration at the Cathedral, we can carry that sign to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility, local public and private schools, and the police department, with a stop at the Baptist Church along the way. Then maybe bring the sign home and hang it in living room.  

 

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Migration: From the Dominican Republic to Chile and the U.S., Haitians face increasing barriers

Haiti Update, September 10, 2018

Looming Crisis in the Dominican Republic

August 25 was the deadline for immigrants to present required documentation to regularize their status under the Dominican Republic’s controversial National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners (PNRE). Close to 98% of the people impacted are from Haiti. Under the provisions of the PNRE, 230,000 people of Haitian descent had registered with the government of the Dominican Republic by an earlier deadline in 2015. However, formalizing their status requires them to present documents to the Dominican Republic’s government (birth certificates and passports being crucial). Very few Haitians have been able to secure these documents from the government of Haiti despite repeated promises that they would be issued.

To highlight the dilemma now faced by over 200,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, cane cutters protested at Haiti’s embassy in Santo Domingo this week to demand that documents be produced. Over 4,000 cane cutters from Haiti had paid 1000 pesos each in 2015 to secure documentation from Haiti’s government, and these documents have not been provided.

Meanwhile, Sonia Vásquez, the National Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, implored the government of the Dominican Republic to not begin mass deportations in response to the crisis, arguing that doing so would have a dramatic impact on many sectors of the Dominican Republic’s economy and society.

Tensions along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic remain high.  Back in March thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic fled across the border at Anse-à-Pitres. A Dominican man had been killed and wife assaulted in Pedernales  – Dominican authorities accused three Haitian men for the crime. As a result, attacks and threats against Haitians increased. Such incidents happen periodically, with the government of the Dominican Republic stereotyping Haitians as criminals and using the tensions for political purposes.

The International Office of Migration has been monitoring the border at regular and irregular crossing points since the earlier 2015 deadline passed, and have documented a large number of border crossings – over 240,000 from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. The majority have been “voluntary” returns – but nearly a quarter have been official deportations.

Wave of Anti-Immigration Policies

Migration out of Haiti remains a high, but options of places to go have been reduced. Following the earthquake in 2010, Brazil opened immigration to Haitians. Close to 65,000 Haitians moved to Brazil looking for work in the years since, only to see the economy there collapse and their options narrowed. Many began a long trek to the United States – traversing 7,000 miles and 11 countries, a journey covered at length in an investigative report by the Miami Herald in 2016.

One of the danger spots for Haitians is Nicaragua, which has ramped up security along the border with Costa Rica since 2015, austensibly for reasons related to the drug war. Nicaragua’s recent political crisis has overtaken these issues – but as recently as February 2018 Haitian migrants and others were still routinely blocked from crossing through Nicaraguan territory.

Over the last several years, Over 100,000 Haitians have moved to Chile (equivalent to 1% of Haiti’s population). However, as was the case in Brazil, many have found work opportunities to be scant, and prospects further diminished by the increase in migration to Chile from people fleeing economic collapse in Venezuela. Then in April, newly elected right-wing President Sebastián Piñera eliminated the temporary visas that allowed Haitians to go from tourists to regular migrants once they obtained a job, a status that had allowed them to then bring their families from Haiti.

Here in the United States, the Trump administration refused to renew Temporary Protective Status for Haitians, put in place following the 2010 earthquake. Which means 59,000 Haitians in the United States face expulsion in July 2019.

Meanwhile, international banks and multilateral lenders continue to bleed Haiti’s economy, while corruption scandals among Haiti’s U.S. protected elite, most recently questions about former president Martelly’s “management” of $3.8 billion in PetroCaribe Funds (which must be paid back to Venezuela), are ongoing. All of which is a reminder that foreign policy is immigration policy – even though we refuse to acknowledge that. The people of Haiti, like many others from Central America, the Middle East and Africa, are caught in the middle: Dislocated by war and greed, and increasingly unable to find safe haven elsewhere.

 

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Update on Prison Strike, September 5

Beginning on August 21, people incarcerated in prisons and jails and immigration detention facilities began a series of actions to raise awareness about the conditions of their imprisonment. Accompanying the call to action is a list of 10 demands for reform. The Prison Strike is now two weeks old – and will run until at least September 9, the anniversary of the Attica uprising.

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is launching a new coalition to carry the demands from the strike forward beyond September 9. You can read about that here – and get involved if you feel called to do so.

The latest update from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak includes the following confirmed activities over the past two weeks. It is important to get information out. Prison authorities have responded to media inquiries largely denying that anything is going on inside. As you might imagine, it is very difficult to organize sustained protest inside a prison. So, for those who have picked up this charge, we should lift up their efforts wherever we can.

Washington – Representatives of over 200 immigrant detainees at Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington declared a hunger strike on day one of the national prison strike. Amid fears of retaliation, 70 across three blocks participated. As of this time, seven continue to refuse food into a second week.

Georgia – Prisoners in Georgia State Prison “Reidsville” have reported a strike, according to Jailhouse Lawyers Speak.

South Carolina – Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is reporting that prisoners in the following facilities are on strike: Broad River Correctional Institution, Lee Correctional Institution, McCormick Correctional Institution, Turbeville Correctional Institute, Kershaw Correctional Institution, and Lieber Correctional Institution. The actions in these facilities include widespread workstrikes, with only a few prisoners reporting to their jobs, and commissary boycotts. McCormick prisoners have been subjected to strip searches everyday since August 21.

North Carolina – Prisoners at Hyde Correctional Institution in Swanquarter, NC demonstrated in solidarity with the strike. There have been unconfirmed reports of strikes at other institutions across the state.

California – At New Folsom Prison a hunger strike started by Heriberto Garcia on August 21 has spread to Lancaster State Prison outside Los Angeles: William E. Brown, Jr. and his group are also striking.

Ohio – At least two prisoners at Toledo Correctional Institution began a hunger strike on August 21. David Easley and James Ward were moved into isolation for participating and authorities have cut off their means of communication to outside contacts.

Colorado – Starting around August 7, ten prisoners at Sterling Correctional Facility announced a hunger strike against a two week long 24 hour a day lockdown of 38 administrative segregation prisoners.

Indiana – Prisoners in the segregation unit at Wabash Valley Correctional Institution initiated a hunger strike on August 27 demanding adequate food and an end to cold temperatures in the unit.

New Mexico – On August 9, prisoners at Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, NM organized a work stoppage against conditions at the prison, which is operated by private corporation GEO Group. Tensions at the prison reached a tipping point prior to the date of the strike and prisoners could not wait before initiating their protest. All facilities in New Mexico were placed on lockdown status on the morning of August 20. This statewide lockdown has since been lifted except for Lea County CF.

Florida – Jailhouse Lawyers Speak asserts that five Florida facilities are seeing strike activity: Charlotte CI reports 40 refusing work and 100 boycotting commissary. Prisoners at Dade Correctional say 30-40 on strike, Franklin Correctional reports 30-60, Holmes Correctional reports 70, Appalachee Correctional reports an unknown number.

Nova Scotia, Canada – at Burnside County Jail in Halifax prisoners went on strike and issued a protest statement in solidarity with the strike and naming local demands. They went through a lockdown and extensive negotiations with authorities. Those who refused to cooperate with humiliating body scans were punished by being locked in a dry cell (no water or working toilets) for three days.

Texas – IWOC was forwarded a message dated August 23 from inside administrative segregation (solitary) of Stiles Unit, Beaumont, TX, confirming that 2 prisoners are on hunger strike in solidarity with the national action: “I feel great. But very hungry! And not because I don’t have food but because of our 48 hours solidarity with our brothers and sisters. It’s the only way we can show support from inside of Seg. Let everyone know we got their backs.” IWOC has confirmed that Robert Uvalle is on hunger strike in solitary at Michael Unit, Anderson County, TX in solidarity with the nationwide strike. Robert has been in solitary for most of his 25 years inside.

This list of activity comes from a zine called Solid Black Fist, created for people incarcerated and allies during the strike. You can read the latest issue here.

Finally, last week, America magazine called the Quixote Center looking for a “Catholic angle” on the prison strike. Apparently we are one of the few faith based organizations to have endorsed the strike and the strikers’ demands. The article from Kevin Clarke came out Friday. You can read that here.

Keep up to date on the strike and solidarity activities:

Amani Sawari and Jailhouse Lawyers Speak

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee

 

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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)