U.S. Foreign Policy in Part Responsible for Influx of Refugees

HarvestofEmpire1According to latest reports, our border crossings are taking on a new challenge with more families coming to seek asylum than ever before. Families at the border

The current Trump administration is determined to not only purge the United States of undocumented community members, many who have now lived in this country for decades, they are hoping to close down the borders by refusing our Central American neighbors an internationally recognized right to seek asylum. What is asylum

Just recently, the new Attorney General, William Barr, announced that people caught crossing the border illegally will be jailed and can be detained indefinitely without bond or a hearing.  This decision effectively hands all authority over to ICE, bypassing the judicial system.  The policies put in place are increasingly criminalizing families who are fleeing violence (best described in the stories of Human Rights and Wrongs)Human Rights and Wrongs.

Join us on Saturday, April 27th at 3:00 P.M. for a viewing of Harvest of Empire, a very interesting and thorough historical review of U.S. policy in the region of Central America.  If you already understand the strong link between destabilizing policies and today’s outcome,  come join us and discuss how we are responding today in our local community.

The event is free and wheel chair accessible.

Human Rights and Wrongs

humanrightsandwrongsOn March 23rd, Dr. Adrianne Aron, long time political activist and liberation psychologist discussed her latest book, Human Rights and Wrongs.  She spoke to a gathering of local community members, many involved in immigrant rights work.  Dr. Aron based her work on the mental health assessments she conducted on asylum seekers awaiting their hearing.     Her book is premised on the question, who are the people seeking asylum and coming across the border?  By writing her book, she provides counter narratives to the hateful descriptors of “invaders” and “criminals”.  Below is one account represented among many.

IMG_2464Dr. Aron was asked to perform a mental health evaluation on a 30 year old Salvadoran man.  He had been jailed for drinking in public and lifting and carrying a child whom he did not know.  This was not her typical interview. Most of her work with refugees involved non-criminal cases.  But she was curious.  Based on the surface of the case, how easy it might be to conclude that this man was attempting a kidnapping, she told us.

Her interview yielded a different story.  This man, at the age of 13 had been forced into the Salvadoran militia-twice.  He had been in detention where he repeatedly heard screams of torture.  But he never processed this powerful and traumatic period, instead he had periods of deep sadness and sometimes suicidal thoughts.  When the most recent drinking incident occurred prior to his arrest, he hadn’t been eating for a week, missed his family in El Salvador, and medicated himself with beer.  Dr. Aron concluded that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and not anti-social impulses.  He didn’t recall picking up the child- he was too drunk.  Most importantly, he hadn’t succumbed to what Aron called, the “militarization of the mind.” In this case, this man turned his trauma against himself, he didn’t lash out in violence, believing violence as the only way to address a situation.    Aron emphasized that he was not an invader as the current administration would like you to believe.

As you may expect,  none in the gathering remotely believed Trump’s version of the “caravan”.  When Dr. Aron asked who is doing work to support immigrants, most all raised their hands. We used the opportunity to discuss additional ways to locally support immigrants and spent the remaining time sending messages targeted at presidential hopefuls and current representatives to look at the work of theTexas Civil Rights Project  and their report on the real numbers of family separations and missing children.

Other groups that need your help:

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant  

Interfaith Movement 4 Human Integrity

Freedom for Immigrants

Solidaridad con los ninos

Help Detained Immigrants

Also, Adrianne Aron will be going to Honduras next month and needs a helper to take care of her dog.  Any takers?  This is one way to support the solidarity work with immigrants.

Please join us for more gatherings on local response to abhorrent immigration policy. On Saturday April 27th we will be viewing the film Harvest of Empire  at 3:00 p.m.- Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church.

HarvestofEmpire1

We Demand Smart Community-Informed Border Solutions

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Please contact your Congressional representatives!

In the debate about border walls, the (false) alternative to wall has been “increased border security” including more drones, surveillance and an increased Border Patrol presence.

This is not a smart solution. More policing and militarization of the border will lead to increased racial profiling and anxiety in border communities. We don’t need more militarization at the border any more than we need more militarized police forces in our hometowns.

What we DO need is community-informed solutions developed by those most heavily impacted.

The BEST POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS we have found are from The U.S.-Mexico Border Policy Report of 2008. It includes 13 pages of excellent recommendations from their task forced that included the faith community, law enforcement, academics, civic leaders, attorneys and community organizations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Please consider emailing the letter below to your representatives in Congress through their websites (takes 6 minutes). Note: you will need to reformat the paragraph breaks once you copy and paste the letter.

If you have an extra 30 minutes, please email the senators on the conference committee listed below who are tasked with negotiating an end to the logjam with President Trump vis-à-vis the border wall.

Please reject border security that puts communities at risk – Propose Smart Solutions

Dear ______ ,

I call on you for a border approach that involves affected border communities who understand their situation and their needs.

An armed Border Patrol presence around existing and planned border walls has proven to be lethal too many times according to Southern Border Communities Coalition* that tracks deaths at the hands of the Border Patrol.

The blanket “increased border security” alternative to more walls is NOT a smart solution. More drones and Border Patrol agents too often go hand-in-hand with racial profiling and detention of people who are citizens or those with legal immigration status. This increases anxiety in the community.

According to Ann Williams Cass, Executive Director of Proyecto Azteca and a health care researcher, a recent study of Hidalgo County’s colonias (near McAllen, Texas) found a shocking 80% FOOD INSECURITY RATE among residents because they are too afraid to leave their neighborhood to shop, for fear of being arrested. For comparison, according to the USDA in 2017**  only 11.8% of US households were food insecure. Most of those families in McAllen have money, transportation and access to food stores – but they and their children are going hungry out of fear of arrest. This is just one of many serious and invisible implications of racial profiling and high security along the border.

The Border Patrol needs better vetting as part of their hiring process as well as better training. According to Politico reporting in The Green Monster: How the Border Patrol Became America’s Most Out of Control Law Enforcement Agency the Border Patrol has had serious problems including hiring members of the MS-13 gang and averaging one arrest per day of its own agents in a seven year period.

The US-MEXICO BORDER POLICY REPORT (2008) proposes the BEST COMMUNITY-INFORMED POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS I have seen. PLEASE incorporate their excellent suggestions (pages 21-34).

https://law.utexas.edu/humanrights/borderwall/communities/municipalities-US-Mexico-Border-Policy-Report.pdf

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

 

*https://www.southernborder.org/deaths_by_border_patrol

**https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx#children

Continue reading “We Demand Smart Community-Informed Border Solutions”

STOP THE TEARS AT THE BORDER!

teargasNationally, Families Belong Together are calling for a National weekend of protest on December 1 and December 2nd.  Locally, West County residents can join the chorus to STOP THE TEARS by Showing UP at the El Cerrito Plaza at Noon on December 1st. Event Sign Up  This visibility action is for ONE HOUR and meant to be a reminder – just 10 hours from our borders, we are placing innocent people in harms way, ignoring international law, and making it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to carry through with their quest for asylum.

When tear gas traveled through the throngs of migrants on the border areas of our State, most citizens stood by horrified by the images of women and children frantically running for safety,   Trumps latest manifestation of a hostile policy toward migrants  follows on the heals of the failing family separation policy,  long term detention of immigrant families, not to mention the newly restricted rules for asylum application.  It is clear that the architects of the current administrative changes at the border are determined to halt any immigration of the refugees who are fleeing from countries that have been torn apart by violence, political corruption and economic deprivation.

Locally, other efforts are underway to support the migrants at the border.

The city of Berkeley will donate money for the migrant caravan to the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, not to exceed $250 per council member. Funds will help provide food, shelter and basic needs to caravan members detained at U.S. ports of entry or traveling to immigration hearings, according the Daily Cal (November 28, 2018)

safe_imageTo learn more about the solidarity work that can be done on the border, please join the Interfatih Movement 4 Human Integrity

Saturday, Dec. 8th, 7 pm – 9 pm
People’s Assembly for Migrant Caravan Solidarity
@ 1st Pres. Church Oakland, 2619 Broadway Ave. Oakland
Join IM4HI & the Migrant Welcome Committee of the Bay Area for an evening of sharing and action as we better understand the recent caravans and take action in solidarity with their participants.
  • Find out the root causes of the mass migration of Hondurans and other Central Americans in this historic moment.
  • Hear testimony from participants of the migrant caravans about the realities, stories and power of their journey and collective action.
  • Find out the many ways individuals and organizations right here in the Bay Area can support the material and political goals of the migrants who are seeking asylum in the US.
Financial Donations to support organizations in Tijuana supporting migrants
and migrant legal defense will be collected at this event.