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.

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Refugees, Immigrants and Trauma – a community responds

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Dr. Adrianne Aron speaks on Human Rights and Wrongs

Saturday, March 23, 2019

3:00- 5:00 pm

Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church in El Cerrito


Join Dr. Adrianne Aron and learn of her journey into the lives of the men, women and children living without a homeland and seeking a safe place in the United States.  How does their journey impact their lives and ours?
Human Rights and Wrongs grew out of Dr. Adrianne Aron’s experience as a liberation psychologist serving immigrants and refugees who have suffered traumatic abuse. This experience also generated Writings for a Liberation Psychology (Harvard University Press, 1994); her English translation of Mario Benedetti’s powerful play about torture, Pedro and the Captain (Cadmus Editions, 2009); and several professional articles, book chapters, and lectures about the unique challenges of doing psychology with oppressed populations. For respite, she took up writing short prose pieces, which won her acclaim in the worlds of both fiction and nonfiction. She has been awarded literary prizes by, among others: New Millennium Writings, Able Muse, the Jack London and San Francisco Writers’ Conferences, and the California Writers Club. 
Adrianne Aron took up fiction writing for respite from her long hours with traumatized refugees. The recognition she received for her short fiction encouraged her to write Human Rights and Wrongs, a work of nonfiction, in the style of a collection of stories for the general reader rather than as didactic narrative. Dr. Aron used to think of herself as a psychologist who writes. Nowadays she thinks of herself as Adrianne, a writer who does a little psychology. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is an active advocate for social justice.
In addition to Dr. Aron’s presentation on her latest book, the community event sponsored by El Cerrito Progressives – Social and Racial Justice Committee will provide participants and opportunity to share information on advocacy and action including opportunities to support refugees and immigrants locally.
For more information about the event:  elcerritoprogressives@gmail.com

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”

Witness at the Texas-Mexico Border

Submitted by Tomi Nagai-Rothe

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In June I saw images of tent city prisons built for children separated from their families and all I could think about was the concentration camp where my mother’s family lived for several years during World War II.

The Japanese-American community has made a point of standing in solidarity with those targeted by the US government, including the Muslim community after 9/11. Because almost no one — except for the American Friends Service Committee — stood for them when they were forced out of their homes simply because of their ethnicity. I feel a part of this solidarity movement so that no one and no group targeted because of their identity will feel so alone.

I felt led to do more than organize locally in El Cerrito − to go in person to witness what is happening at the Texas-Mexico border. Going in person felt like one way to embody my commitment.

In October I spent 2 ½ weeks volunteering with the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) in Alamo, Texas just outside McAllen which was ground zero for the family separation crisis over the summer. TCRP interviewed 382 families and organized 90 attorneys as part of the #FamiliesBelongTogether effort over the summer (there are only three attorneys in their Alamo office, and six others in the other TCRP offices).

Humanitarian Respite Center

By October the family crisis had abated somewhat, so I worked on a border wall project. I studied the history of the border wall, including the economic, cultural and environmental impacts and created this illustration of the executive summary of the article, Death, Damage and Failure: Past, Present and Future Impacts of Walls on the US-Mexico Border.

To support the work of the TCRP attorneys I created an interactive map of the landowners affected by the October 10 waiver of 28 federal laws that clears the way for additional border wall construction. TCRP is working with individuals who need help negotiating with the government and cannot afford to hire an attorney.

FINAL Impact of Wall on the Border

On my last day in Texas I volunteered at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen where newly arrived families and individuals gather before taking busses to reunite with family members in other parts of the state or country. I was struck by how young they were — in their 20s and 30s — and how composed they seemed, having experienced unspeakable challenges. Soon after I arrived I started crying inexplicably. I can only guess that it was the feeling of so many people’s trauma in one small room.

When I returned to the office I edited stories of people killed by the Border Patrol for a Dia de Los Muertos Offrenda (altar). It felt important to write a respectful obituary for those who died a violent death. It was an emotional end to an eye-opening visit.

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To learn more about why the Bay Area is a border region, why the Texas-Mexico border has the fewest miles of wall and more, come to Tomi’s talk about her sojourn in South Texas.

Saturday, January 5 3 to 4:30pm at Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury at Lincoln, El Cerrito

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

El Cerrito Shows UP Going Dark (for awhile)

GET OUT THETE 101The ushering in of Daylight Savings Time will mark the end of El Cerrito Shows UP  for this year.  Local residents mobilized in 2016 at the height of the Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville to send a message that our community does not tolerate hate and racism.  Since that time, residents faithfully appeared week after week (prior to winter darkness) to maintain this message.  Some of the human billboard actions were huge, with over 600 people in attendance.

@MaryMartinDeShaw-0011-XLFor almost a month, hundreds of local residents responded to the separations of families at the border.

IMG_1790 (1)With a plethora of countywide actions from the different organizations of the social justice community, residents “kept the heat on ICE.” (ICE is the acronym for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The County Sheriff finally agreed to end the County’s contract with ICE and no longer houses detained immigrants at West County Jail.

The point of El Cerrito Shows UP has been two-fold:

  • To build resistance and remind residents that our current administration cannot be tolerated, accepted or be normalized.
  • To create community among people who care about social justice and prevent isolation and depression that can easily beset individuals when power in this country is so abused and intended to promote hate.

Clearly, for those who are politically involved, we know the November 6th elections mean the possibility of stopping the train wreck of policies threatening our health care, education, environment and more.  How can we show others that voting can make a difference?  On Thursday, October 25th, from 5-7 pm., residents will gather for the last El Cerrito Shows UP for this year.  PLEASE JOIN US.  We will be focusing our attention to the mid-term with sign’s to remind voters what is at stake.  If you haven’t been involved, this is a time you can meet up with others and get involved. Plenty of phone banking, text banking and canvassing is still needed to be done.  You can find the Indivisible East Bay ready to get you started.

Bake for Bonds hurdles past $10,000 goal!

Bake for Bonds Raises $10,451

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Beautifully decorated Bake for Bonds table at the Kensington Market with community volunteers. Final tally raised for bond funds to support immigrants is $10,541

Update on Bake for Bonds

Bake for Bonds, now completing its third and final weekend, raised $8,200 as of Saturday, September 1st.  Organizers set a goal of $10,000 for funds to help immigrants transferred from West County Detention Center to private prisons out of state.  With a strong supportive community, organizers predict success at the end of Sunday.  Please join the campaign and buy some baked goods for a good cause. Find Bake for Bonds at Trader Joes in El Cerrito Plaza and Kensington Farmers Market from 10Am to 2PM. day1bakesale

Bake for Bonds launches the first weekend of bake sales – almost $500 raised in 4 hours.  Day 2 promises to be even greater – more sites and a 1-1 match for every dollar raised!

When El Cerrito Progressives launched a local effort to support the coalition of organizations raising funds for a Bay Area bond fund to support local ICE detainees, the outpouring of support heartened us all.  In addition to raising $3,000 within the first 10 days, a local neighbor donated funds and  suggested a city wide bake sale.  With a quick Canva graphic, catchy title and a bit of social media, neighbors came together to launch three weekends of scrumptious treats to be sold at some well traversed spots in our city. Don’t miss your chance to support a good cause.

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