Posts Tagged ‘#DefundHate’

Mothers of Disappeared Migrants Travel to D.C. for Justice

Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3)

On a brisk Tuesday morning, across from the white dome of the U.S. Capitol, a group of five women from Central America gathered to bring awareness to the hundreds of migrants who disappear each year while attempting to cross into the United States. Dressed in shawls and cute jackets, hair impeccably styled, any one of them could have been one of my tías, or my abuelita. Despite the October cold, the mothers stood tall—heads lifted high—as they recounted their stories. 

“We are dying while alive. We have no peace, day and night we hold them in our hearts, and our only desire is to find them,” said Arecely de Mejía, a member of the Committee for Family members of Deceased and Disappeared Migrants (COFAMIDE) whose son Edwin has been missing for over nine years.

“I am the mother of Carlos Osorio Parada,” said Bertila Parada from El Salvador. “I did find him, but I did not find him the way I wanted to. I was not able to hold him. My son left with the hope of coming to this country, and he was kidnapped in Mexico. His body was found in a clandestine grave in Tamaulipas in 2011. He was finally repatriated in 2015 to El Salvador.”

“We want to open borders so that you can see the suffering of mothers of disappeared people in our countries,” said Ángela Lacayo from Honduras. “Our youth are forced to migrate because of crime, because of lack of opportunity, because of unemployment, because of organized crime, because of M-18. We want to be heard and for our voices may make it to the halls of Congress so that laws can change and the militarization of migratory routes ceases.” 

Photographs of Disappeared Family Members

According to Border Patrol, 7,209 migrants have died while crossing the U.S.-Mexico over the last 20 years. However, according to Border Angels, the real death toll could be anywhere between 25% to 300% higher, based on reports of human remains uncovered by other groups such as local law enforcement, humanitarian groups, ranchers, ect. This would mean that, over the past 20 years, there have been anywhere between 9,100 to just under 29,000 deaths. This does not even take into account that, in the harsh conditions of the desert, human remains can rapidly decompose without ever being recorded. 

Since 2014, according to the IOM, another 3,400 migrants have gone missing while attempting the U.S.-Mexico border crossing; again, this is likely a vast underestimate of the true number. Collecting data on disappeared migrants is extremely difficult given that there is no singular entity tracking these numbers; the Missing Migrants Project pieced together reports from Mexican immigration authorities and US border county medical examiners, coroners, and sheriffs offices. 

What is it that makes this journey so deadly? Migrants who cross the border through the desert risk fatal heat exposurehypothermia (exposure to cold), hyperthermia (exposure to heat), and drowning. Those who become unable to keep up with the group are often abandoned by the very coyotes they hired—meaning that even a minor injury could result in death. Vehicle accidents—mostly tied to freight trains used as transit—are the first most common recorded cause of death, with violence being the second. Throughout Mexico and Central America, migrants risk becoming victims of robbery, kidnapping, rape, or human trafficking carried out by gangs and cartels.

Migratory routes were not always this dangerous. In 1994, under the Clinton Administration, Border Patrol launched Operation Gatekeeper, designed to keep out migrants by building up the border apparatus—such as increasing detention bed space and building new walls and infrastructure where they previously had not existed—thus intentionally pushing migrants to take more dangerous and irregular routes for crossing. This policy of “prevention through deterrence” led to the militarization of the border as we see it today.

But as the past twenty years have demonstrated, deterrence does not work. Instead, it merely leads to pointless tragedy, as evidenced by the mothers. 

For 16 years, hundreds of mothers and family members of disappeared migrants have joined together to form caravans through Mexico in order to search for their missing loved ones and demand justice. They succeeded in locating over 350 migrants and reuniting some, such as victims of human trafficking, with their families. 

Most of the mothers in D.C. had already participated in caravans, though this marked their first time traveling to the US. Migrant Roots Media, Pax Christi USA and Proyecto Puentes de Esperanza co-sponsored and organized their journey in coordination with the Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano.

Karen Morales, the youngest member, had come from Honduras. She had been searching for her brother Aarón Eleazar Carrasco Turcios for nine years. Her mother participated in a 2019 caravan to Mexico, but unable to find any answers, organized her own committee for mothers of disappeared migrants. Tears crept into Karen’s voice as she spoke, displaying a photograph of her brother that hung around her neck. 

“Why do our brothers, our family members, flee from Africa, from Haiti, from Central America? Why? The answer is easy. Because there is a lot of poverty and crime. The government makes us believe that they’re coming for a dream, but that’s not true…[gangs] are killing our youth.

“We also came here to be heard, so that the U.S. government can stop sending money to our governments; that only worsens the situation because they are reinforcing the borders, and we believe the money should go to something better, such as education, so that we will never be forced to migrate.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-5) was slated to appear, but could not attend due to a sudden conflict. As the mothers shared their stories, Congressman Raύl Grijalva (AZ-3) listened attentively. When they were done, he stepped forward to give his speech, once in Spanish, and once in English:

“The essential action that is needed on the part of Congress is to do something to assist these countries in a humanitarian manner, no longer in terms of military or security. Resources have to go to the most important interest, which is the people of these countries. And the people need education, food, nutrition, housing and opportunity in terms of employment.”

The caravan had two specific requests for Congress: to enact both the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act (HR 2716) and the Berta Cáceres Act (HR 1574), which both call for the suspension of U.S. assistance to Honduran security forces.

After the media was done taking pictures, I found myself standing next to Karen. When I thanked her for sharing her story, she smiled warmly. 

“That’s what we’re here for,” she said. “To share their stories. And maybe, if someone somewhere hears it, they might know something that can help us find them.”

Karen poses for a picture with the photograph of her brother Aarón, who has been missing since 2012.

Click HERE to watch a recording of the event. 

Continue Reading

Week of Action Against Deportation

This week, we are joining the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the Haitian Bridge Alliance, and other local and national organizations on a week of action in defense of Black immigrants. With waning media coverage of the administration’s horrible treatment of Haitian migrants in Texas since mid-September, the Biden administration believes that it can now sweep ongoing mistreatment of Haitians and other Black migrants under the rug.

Now is the time to mobilize and to show the administration that we are watching—and that we’ve had enough.

Yesterday, our community partners in New Orleans at Unión Migrante organized a march to City Hall for immigrant justice. Later this week, there are actions planned in Washington D.C., California, Louisiana, New York, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Arizona, and North Carolina. Visit the No More Deportations website, or click the link HERE, to find an action in your area.

And if you don’t see an action near you? Get together a few friends and community members, use the Haitian Bridge Alliance toolkit to organize your own, and add click “Host an Event” on the No More Deportations website. An action could be as simple as a small vigil in honor of the families and children deported under Title 42, or a rally in front of a local or federal government building.

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 11/14/2019: No more money for Trump’s enforcement nightmare

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

Daily Dispatch

November 14, 2019

You might not remember this, but when Trump came into office (2017), border apprehensions on the southwest border were at a 40+ year low. In other words, no crisis. It is not that immigration policy was working well. Clinton, Bush and Obama had each added on features to an increasingly inhumane detention and deportation machine, and somehow this went under the radar of policy makers despite the protests of many. What years of congressional indifference had wrought, however, became clear once this machinery was handed over to Trump in January of 2017. 

Trump came into office committed to warring against immigrants, and he has. Nearly three years later, it is clear that the administration is out of control, violating the law and congressional oversight authority. For what? As a candidate, Trump spoke continuously about criminal aliens, violent thugs and gang members. This was always a lie. There aren’t enough “criminals” to go to war against. Indeed, Trump’s ICE has the lowest criminal removal rate of any administration bringing cases to immigration courts – and like past administrations, the most common lead charges for those “criminals” who are removed are traffic violations. So, who are we going after really? Refugees, children, and authorized immigrants (yeah, people we are supposed to be welcoming because they “stood in line” and did it the “right way”). Trump talks about MS-13 at rallies and then locks up people fleeing torture in Cameroon and sexual violence in Honduras or blocks H-1 visas for computer science majors. 

Which brings us to the would-be-funny-if-not-so-incredibly-tragic part. He keeps running out of money doing this – and none of the Atlas Shrugged-hugging, small government pinheads care. So, he wants more dollars, and he wants you to pay those dollars, all for a set of policies that don’t work and are morally repugnant. Congress has the power to shut it down, but instead has been way too generous (or too weak). 

Trump’s war on refugees

So, let’s get specific. Over the last year the Trump administration has taken unprecedented steps to disrupt all avenues for seeking asylum in the United States. This has included incarcerating people seeking asylum – even those who declare their intent to seek asylum at a port of entry, and even after those people have passed credible fear interviews. The administration is also denying bond hearings to those who cross between ports of entry, even though asylum law allows anyone, regardless of how they cross the border, the right to seek asylum. As a result, of the 47,260 people in ICE detention at the end of last week, 13,462 have already established a credible fear of torture or persecution if returned to their home country. Yet they are still being jailed (and tortured) in this country. 

Earlier this year, the administration expanded the Orwellian named Migrant Protection Protocols to cover the entire border with Mexico. Under this policy, piloted late last year just in San Diego, anyone arriving at the border seeking asylum is denied entry altogether and made to “Remain in Mexico” for a hearing before an immigration judge. When the policy was generalized to cover the whole border this summer, more than 6,000 asylum seekers already in the United States were sent back to Mexico. In total, 55,000 people have been returned to Mexico to await hearings. These hearings began in September and are a farce. Asylum seekers are allowed to cross the border for a day, taken into a tent where they speak to an immigration judge through video conferencing – the judge is elsewhere – and then have to return to Mexico to wait longer. The system, as volunteer attorneys attempting to provide services have argued, is designed to fail. Indeed, it is designed to make people so miserable they give up and go home, or seek permanent resettlement in Mexico.

Still not content, the Trump administration then published a new rule that actually denies anyone who arrives at our border the ability to even apply for asylum if they passed through any other country first – unless they have applied for asylum in that country and been denied. What this means is that basically no one from any country other than Mexico can apply for asylum at the southern border. The policy was clearly aimed at denying Central Americans the possibility of seeking asylum. It also seems to be a very clear violation of existing law – and yet the Supreme Court overturned an injunction put in place by district courts while the merits of the law are being challenged in court. So, even if likely to be overturned eventually, the new rule is being allowed to proceed for the time being. As a result, asylum seekers arriving since the July 16 rule went into effect are denied access to the asylum process completely and constitute a whole other class of individuals waiting in detention to be deported.

If the Trump administration had stopped here, it would already be a debacle by any standard of respect for human rights. But they didn’t. The administration went even further, pushing its enforcement regime into Mexico by blackmailing the government of Mexico under threat of tariffs to adopt stricter enforcement measures. The goal: to keep people seeking asylum from ever reaching the U.S. border. Mexico has complied with “requests” from previous U.S. administrations to step up enforcement, so again, nothing new in principal. But Trump went further – and so has Mexico. The Mexican government has added 6,000 people to patrols along its southern border and has stepped up deportations (Mexico was already deporting twice as many Central Americans as the United States before the new rules). Another impact is expanded detention within Mexico and a new crisis on Mexico’s southern border for immigrants not from Central America who cannot be easily deported. This group, primarily refugees from Africa and the Caribbean, have been trapped in camps along the border, denied the ability to travel through Mexico as they could before, to seek asylum at the U.S. border.

But we are still not done. The Trump administration has negotiated agreements with the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras allowing the administration to send asylum seekers and other immigrants back to one of these countries – even though a large majority of the asylum seekers at the southern border are fleeing conditions in one of these countries. 

Big Paydays for Crisis (Mis)Management

Returning back to the United States, the Washington Post reported this week that the administration purposefully sought to extend detention times for children caught up in this dragnet as part of its broader “deterrent” strategy. They did this, in part, by changing the process for locating sponsors. The administration was using information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services (which oversees child detentions) to actually entrap unauthorized immigrants who might come forward as a sponsor for a relative child. This rule was eventually changed again, but only after children were being detained for up to 95 days on average late last year. This was before a surge of apprehensions at the border in the spring of 2019 pushed the whole system to the verge of collapse. The administration blamed this surge for the problems, but that is a well documented lie. The crisis was created intentionally before the surge in arrests began.

And yet, for the administration and its network of subcontractors/donors, the manufactured crisis paid off well. A $4.6 billion emergency supplemental was handed over by Congress – and that, only after the Senate stripped the bill of added oversight measures (and Democratic House leaders went along). 

But you know, for this gang, it is still not enough. When the administration ran out of money again in August they simply moved $267 million from other accounts, without congressional authorization. Yes, they paid for more detention beds with money from the Coast Guard, and paid for the unauthorized Remain in Mexico policy with money from FEMA. And did so without prior-notification to Congress (re-programming money is not a new thing, but is supposed to happen only after oversight committees approve). So, we can add a clear violation of Congress’ Article One powers to authorize expenditures to the list.

Now Trump wants even more money for ICE and Border Patrol for the FY 2020 budget. He wants 52,000 bed spaces a day for detention, more border patrol agents, and a wall. This administration has gone from a 40-year low in unauthorized border crossings, to a 10-year high, managed to lock up 70,000 children in one year on purpose, absolutely gutted the asylum process, and achieved the highest daily average of ICE detainees ever recorded by jailing people fleeing torture. In short, the biggest failure by any measure of a policy one can imagine. And he wants more money? Congress has to just say no. The budget for detention and enforcement needs to be cut, and cut dramatically. We need to demand that Congress defund this administration’s policies of hate now!!! Congress helped build this monstrosity. It is time to take it apart.

What better time than now?

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 11/13/2019: Tell Congress to #DefundHate

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

Daily Dispatch

November 13, 2019

Today is a National Call-in Day to Congress demanding that they cut (not increase!!!) the budgets for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). We have written about specific issues concerning the Trump administration’s refusal to abide by Congressional authorizations concerning how money is spent. 

You can also personalize your communication with members of Congress. A summary of some points you might raise.

  • Congressed authorized funding for just over a 45,000 daily average of people in ICE detention in Fiscal Year 2019 (Oct 1, 2018 to Sept 30, 2019).
  • The intent was that detention would decline from the 49,000 daily average at the time the budget was passed, to 40,000 by the end of the fiscal year.
  • By August of 2019, ICE was holding 55,000 people a day.
  • In August, 9,000 of the people in detention were asylum seekers who had already passed their credible fear interview, and according to DHS’ own guidelines, it would “no longer in the public interest” to detain them.
  • They were not released. Instead, Trump administration officials shifted funds from the Coast Guard and other accounts to fund expanded detention.
  • Today, there are over 12,000 people still in detention that have demonstrated a credible fear of persecution of torture should they be returned home – even though overall detention has declined to 50,000 (still above authorized amounts). 
  • In other words, the reason that the administration is over budget is not a surge in border apprehensions, but the cruel decision to hold all asylum seekers throughout their entire process.

This should NOT be funded.

  • This summer the administration secured an extra $4.6 billion in emergency funding following disclosure of horrible conditions in Border Patrol stations, where children were being held for three weeks or more without adequate food or sanitation.
  • The administration blamed this on a backlog at the Department of Health and Human Services, which receives unaccompanied children from Border Patrol to detain while awaiting placement, because of a surge in apprehensions at the border.
  • Reality: HHS facilities were over capacity prior to the so called border surge, with average detention stays up to 95 days by November of 2018. Why?
  • The Trump administration policy to use children in detention as bait to catch undocumented family members who might come forward as sponsors – which, as reported by the Washington Post this week,  they knew would lead to a backlog at HHS.
  • Thus, the horror we witnessed at Border Patrol detention facilities this summer was the result of an intentional policy to deter children from coming here.

This should NOT be funded!

  • The Border Patrol does NOT need more agents.
  • The Washington Office on Latin America reported, “In all of 2018, the average Border Patrol agent apprehended 14 single adults—one every 3.7 weeks—and 10 children or parents who sought to be apprehended. If staffing levels remained similar in 2019, the average Border Patrol agent apprehended 18 single adults—one every 2.9 weeks— and had to process 33 children or parents.”
  • So, even with the increase in apprehensions last year, on average, a border patrol agent took 1 single adult and 2 children alone (or 1 child with a parent) into custody every 3 weeks.
  • As WOLA notes, what is needed is more staff to process asylum claims, not more agents to arrest people.
  • This is needed so that people can be processed and RELEASED!

No more detention dollars for ICE, no more enforcement dollars for CBP. They do not need the money. The crisis at our border is a real one – but it has been created by this administration’s cruelty, and the false notion that deterrence is an effective strategy to end migration. We are violating human rights and in effect torturing people in detention, in order to discourage immigration.

It is time to #DefundHate, and stop this!!

Continue Reading

Daily Dispatch 8/26/2019: #DefundHate Update

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

Daily Dispatch

August 26, 2019

The Quixote Center is a member of the Detention Watch Network and support their #DefundHate Campaign, which seeks to decrease – and eventually eliminate – Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s budget for detention, while promoting community-based alternatives to incarceration. The latest update, and action alert, from the campaign is below.

Congress is on recess until September 9th! Make sure they hear from you while they are in-district and before they return to DC in September.

After receiving a $200 million bonus from the supplemental appropriations package in June, ICE is at it again with yet another money grab. We recently learned that the agency submitted a transfer and reprogramming notification to Congress, which means we can expect that they are raiding other accounts to expand detention. With ICE and appropriators refusing to make this document public, the details of where ICE is stealing this money from and exactly how much will be taken remain unclear. This is the same tactic that ICE used last year to grab disaster aid funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during hurricane season to expand detention.

All the while, the current fiscal year ends on September 30th and ICE is currently detaining over 55,000 people, well over what Congress appropriated them for the year. ICE’s approved budget for Fiscal Year 2019 funded an average daily population of 45,274 people in detention, with the implication that the number would “glide down” from the 49,000 people ICE was detaining at the time of the bill’s passage to about 40,500 by the end of the fiscal year. Instead, ICE has continued to expand its detention population, now surpassing 55,000 people in jails across the country. ICE is using the authority to transfer and reprogram funds to make up for the immense spending gap this rapid and unaccountable expansion has created, and will likely look for even more funding for Fiscal Year 2020.

As FY 2019 comes to a close at the end of September, August recess is a crucial time for Members to hear about how they should defund hate in their appropriations bills for FY 2020.

We are calling on Congress to pass an appropriations bill that will:

Significantly cut funding for ICE and CBP and not use their current bloated spending levels as a starting point for negotiations.

Eliminate ICE’s ability to transfer and reprogram funds without any exceptions that would undermine this provision.

Your representatives need to hear from you.

Members of Congress will be in their districts for August recess until the week of September 9th. This is an opportunity to begin escalating and pressuring your Members. They need to hear from constituents that when they return to Washington D.C. and begin funding negotiations, their priority needs to be defunding hate by vocally supporting significant cuts to ICE and CBP.

Here are some ways that you can act this August recess:

Request a meeting in your district. Decide which Member(s) you’d like to target – of your two Senators and one Representative – and reach out to their district office to schedule a meeting. Prepare with and bring along this one-pager detailing ICE’s fiscal mismanagement and this letter to the budget committee sharing campaign priorities. Share with your Member of Congress why reining in ICE and CBP enforcement is essential to your community and how you will be holding them accountable.

Attend a town hall. Use this tool to see if your Member of Congress is holding a townhall during recess in your district. Learn about where this Member has been on Defund Hate priorities in the past using this scorecard for the Senate and this scorecard for the House. Prepare a question to ask during the town hall to try to have your Member commit to defunding hate by pursuing cuts in funding for ICE and CBP.

Bird-dog your Members of Congress. Consistently seek them out at any public appearance, put them on the spot with specific questions or information, and insist on straight answers to publicly reveal their views. Prioritize visibility if you can to apply maximum pressure on the Member. To help plan your bird-dogging strategy, you can use this step-by-step guide

Make a call to release the Transfer and Reprogramming Request. Find your Representative HERE and your Senators HERE and note their phone numbers. Use this script when you call: “Hello, my name is [first and last name]. I’m calling as part of the Defund Hate campaign. I’m calling to express my deep concern that ICE is once again grabbing money from other parts of DHS to expand detention through their Transfer and Reprogramming authority. I encourage [Member of Congress] to publicize the document and vocally denounce this abuse of authority. Thank you.”

Local Activism matters

As we have discussed often here at the Dispatch, in the face of Federal intransigence on immigration policy, local action matters! A couple of interesting articles this week – with some ideas of how to get involved.

Court observation. You just need some patience and a notebook to help provide insight into immigration court procedures, which, until recently, operated largely undercover. Now that people are paying attention, court operations are coming to light.  From Rewire:

Court observers attend asylum hearings to shed light on the immigration court system, which is among the least transparent institutions of the justice system. Qualifications are minimal—one needs only a valid government photo ID and the ability to observe in silence and take legible notes, since recording devices aren’t allowed. Volunteers can plug into different programs to share their observations, as well as discuss the process with family and friends or post their findings on social media. Collectively, this information can be used to highlight judges or courts that are particularly unfriendly to asylum seekers. It can also empower advocates pushing for systemic reform of the 50 immigration courts in 29 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands deciding the fate of every asylum seeker, many of whom are forced to return to the place they just barely escaped from.

Community Defense Patrols. Another article highlights the important role that rapid response networks can play in defending immigrant communities. A particular focus on this article are community defense groups that have come together to mobilize to protect community members whenever word gets out of ICE operations. From In These Times

Although the specifics of the tactic may vary at different times, community defense patrolling involves groups of activists walking, biking or driving around specific locations where people endure high risk of being arrested by ICE. With the threat of ICE ever-present in immigrant communities, patrol participants organize to monitor areas where raids and arrests may happen. Their physical presence in vulnerable locales facilitates a rapid response to help defend people targeted by ICE. Community defense patrols have been common historically, though new instances of these patrols are emerging again in response to Trump’s repeated threats of large-scale ICE raids this summer.

Yasmin Juarez speaks out on new Trump family detention rule

As we reported, and much discussed elsewhere, the Trump administration has offered a new rule governing child detention in an effort to get around restrictions in the Flores Settlement Agreement, which currently governs Federal government responsibilities for detaining immigrant children. The rule was introduced last week and will go into effect in mid-October unless it is blocked by the court.

Yasmin Juarez, whose daughter died after being detained at one of ICE’s three family detention centers, spoke out against the new rule in an interview on National Public Radio. You can read the transcript and/or listen here.

“Hunger strike protocols have been implemented”

Attorneys representing several men from India who have been on a hunger strike for weeks now, shared an email received from Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent as a response to an earlier inquiry from attorneys. Linda Corchado, who works with Las Americas and is part of the legal team, shared her edits and responses to the email. Definitely worth taking a look at here.

Continue Reading

Contact Us

  • Quixote Center
    P.O. Box 1950
    Greenbelt, MD 20768
  • Office: 301-699-0042

Directions to office:

6305 Ivy Lane, Suite 255. Greenbelt, MD 20770

For public transportation: We are located near the Green Belt metro station (green line)