TWO CARAVANS - One of Central Americans and the other, North Americans - WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?
At the end of the seder, we said: "Next year in a just world." And through our actions from this Passover to the next, let us make this dream a reality.
VIACRUCISMIGRANTE 2018- JOURNEY FROM CENTRAL AMERICA TO THE U.S. BORDER
In the Christian tradition, Holy Week between Palm Sunday and Easter is a time of the Way of the Cross. This year 1200 pilgrims from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are walking from their countries to the U.S.-Mexico border ending in Mexicali. Here is a story of their journey told be one of the participants.
Day 3 of the #ViacrucisMigrante2018 - News coverage in the Diario del Sur:
Blanca, 20 years old, traveling on foot from El Salvador with her 2-year-old daughter: "If Trump were here, he'd forget about the wall. He has never been poor, and that is why he acts this way towards the rest of the world; he would need to walk here with us in order to understand our reality."
We are Pueblo Sin Fronteras, 1200 families heading north on foot to denounce the repression of the corrupt governments of Central America, and the cruel treatment of migrants by the governments of Mexico and the United States. We began walking this morning at 5am from the southern Mexican town of Mapastepec, preparing to all cross the third immigration checkpoint, without permission, together.
Day 5 of the #ViacrucisMigrante2018, families washing clothing and bathing in the Novillero river in San Pedro Tepanatepec, while others in the caravan prepare rice and beans. A group of 350 men just arrived after walking all night from Arriaga. On the last stretch 2 truckers stopped on the side of the highway and all 350 climbed onto the truck beds to arrive together at dawn.
90 of us arrived last night on a bus after negotiating with the bus company in Arriaga. The border police stopped and boarded us, but we insisted that we are Pueblo Sin Fronteras, 1500 families without passports but with permission from God to pass freely; the police backed off and we made it to San Pedro, where we found the town fair and played foosball before falling asleep exhausted.
We are strong, we are impatient, we are beautiful and fun and we have dignity, and there are a lot of us. Of the 150 people who flee political repression in Honduras each day, more than a thousand are with us, roaring "Fuera Joh!" as we march. We struggle against the corrupt governments of Mexico, Centroamerica, and the USA, an end to violence and repression in our countries, and respect and freedom of movement for all migrants. www.facebook.com/PuebloSF/
WHAT IS YOUR COMMITMENT OR NEXT STEP THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO MAKE TO ASSIST IMMIGRANTS AND TO BREAK THE CHAINS OF THE UNJUST IMMIGRATION SYSTEM? i WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez is greeted by friends and family after exiting the Adelanto Detention Center in California on August 30, 2017. He spent six months in detention until an immigration judge ordered that he be allowed to post bond. He is in deportation proceedings that could take years to complete because of court backlogs. Credit: Kyle Grillot/Reuters
The lawsuit, which focuses on asylum seekers and legal permanent residents, led to a 2013 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that immigrants detained for six months or longer are entitled to a bond hearing. (Source:PRI (030118)
A PERSONAL STORY ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BONDS FOR DETAINEES:
In February, 2017 a Guatemalan woman friend, Josefina or "Josie" was released from an Arizona detention center. I met Josie in November, 2015 as a volunteer CIVIC visitor. She had traveled north from a small town in Northeast Guatemala to find work to finance her father's dialysis treatment. She had family in the USA and hoped to live with them. She was kidnapped en route by a Mexican drug cartel and held for ransom. A cousin in Florida paid $8000 for her release.
As she told me her story, I realized that she should have an attorney as she might qualify for a T visa given to victims of human trafficking. A lawyer from a nonprofit law firm took her case. Later, I wrote a letter of support for her first bond hearing in 2016. Immigration bonds are like bail bonds - the applicant must demonstrate that they are not a flight risk and will keep their immigration court appointments.
Her bond was set at $20,000 for crossing the U.S-Mexico border without legal permission to enter. Her aunt and family raised $5000 and the attorneys contributed $15,000 and after 15 months in the private corporate detention center, she was released. That February night we had a celebratory feast of her favorite Guatemalan food: black beans, rice and tamales.
There are between 380,000 and 442,000 persons in detention centers, private and public annually. The per day cost per detainee is $90.43 which adds up to $2-5 Million per year of our tax dollars spent to keep legal permanent residents with families, asylum-seekers and victims of human trafficking in detention waiting either for bond hearing or a lawyer to assist with their case.
The importance of the Supreme Court decision is that detainees can no longer have a bond hearing and can be held indefinitely in detention until deported. Due to the fact that the immigration courts are overwhelmed with the numbers, ACLU lawyers estimate that a detainee could spend two to four years between detention and deportation. For more information on the Court ruling, www.pri.org/stories/2018-03-01/why-recent-supreme-court-decision-bonds-red-flag-immigrants-detention.
IMPLICATIONS OF THIS DECISION FOR DETAINEES AND OUR SYSTEM OF LAW:
How can we as U.S. citizens agree to a decision that deprives people of due process, a legal concept, at the core of our country's laws The U.S. Supreme Court decision is draconian and means many lives will be indefinitely put on hold. Meanwhile, the private corporations, GEO and CCA, earn millions due to the Congressional mandated quota, "34,000 detention beds daily" that must be filled and/or paid for by the government. In 2014 GEO earned $144 million and CCA, $195 million. These two private corporate detention center operators house 62% of all detainees.
WHAT CAN YOU OR I DO?
FINALLY, SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH ME OF PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY TIME IN DETENTION CENTER. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
What good are vigils when ICE just keeps on picking people up? It is a good question to which I do not have an easy answer. At the December vigil we were asked to share, "Why am I here?" I said that it is to keep my soul whole and my heart healthy. I think of all the immigrants, mostly undocumented, that are in my heart and mind: Andrea from Argentina; Heidi from Nicaragua; Jessica from Guatemala, Gladys now in Guatemala with her family; Ada and William and the list goes on. I am here because it is one way that I can witness to ICE my profound disagreement with their policy of detaining and deporting people and in the process dividing and destroying families.
Are there other ways to protest? Yes, IMIRJ, the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, provides accompaniment to ICE check-ins and court hearings; writes letters of support for immigrants seeking to stay in the United States; organizes faith communities to join the Sanctuary movement and stand with our immigrant neighbors and friends when they are "profiled" or discriminated against.
I am reading an interesting book, This is an Uprising, by Mark and Paul Engler, Nation Books, New York, 2016. The authors analyze social movements that "conduct carefully planned exercise in mass disruption." How can I/we disrupt ICE operations? Strategic non-violence means a variety of tactics: sit-ins, boycotts, marches, mass arrests and legal action and yes, public vigils. The purpose of these tactics is to educate the public about a problem and to encourage others to act.
In 2018 I think that we are called to DISRUPT the normal detention and deportation process. I am not sure how but please send me your ideas and thoughts so that 2018 can be the year of civic resistance. Future blogs will let you know what we decide to do.
Our vigil/rally closed with the statement:
Dear People of Oregon, ICE out of Oregon is what we ask for, We are here to stay, Because this is our only home.
NOTE: There are monthly vigils at the Washington County courthouse and the last Thursday of each month outside the Portland ICE office from 10AM-11AM. For more information, check the website www.imirj.org
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?