A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Archive for the ‘Immigration Reform’ Category

All are welcome here

There are so many ways to be involved right now and I wanted to share this simple one from American Friends Service Committee. If you feel called to support the Muslim community in this uncertain time – please see below.

Action to Support Muslims

We are living in an extraordinary moment. The Trump administration’s Muslim ban executive order has sparked protests and criticism across the country and the globe. Even more seriously, the administration’s commitment to disregard legal decisions staying the order and to dismiss staff that raise concerns internally has brought us to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

We need you to act now, and call on your member of Congress to oppose the ban.

To recap:

  • Late Friday evening, Trump signed an executive order ending the Syrian Refugee program, suspending visas from seven majority-Muslim countries, and temporarily halting refugee resettlement.
  • On Saturday, people who already traveling from those countries when the order was signed were detained at numerous airports, sparking large protests at those airports as well as at the White House, the Capitol, and in cities and towns across the country. Chaos and confusion erupted around the globe as hundreds, including children and grandparents, were held in detention, deported, or prevented from boarding flights to the U.S. Late Saturday night, federal judges in New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts ordered a temporary halt to the order for those who had valid visas.
  • On Sunday, large protests at airports continued, with shouts of “No Hate, No Fear, Immigrants are Welcome Here!” Meanwhile, in multiple cases Customs and Border Patrol agents refused to follow the judge’s orders to allow those with valid visas to enter, even when confronted by members of Congress at Dulles airport. The administration was silent on the matter.
  • Monday it was revealed that the order was written without input from the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Secretary of State nominee. Instead, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions and white nationalist Trump advisors Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, were the primary authors. Monday evening it was announced that 100 State Department officials signed a “dissent memo” against the administration’s policy.
  • Monday evening, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates announced that she would not defend the executive order, saying, “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.” President Trump fired her hours later, saying that she had “betrayed the Department of Justice.”

The Trump administration must be held accountable for violating court orders. Our democracy depends upon checks on executive power, which are being defied by this administration.

Call your Congressperson today, and ask them to: 

  1. Hold the Trump administration accountable for violating court orders and undercutting the independence of the office of the Attorney General, dangerously undermining democratic process and constitutionally mandated checks on executive power.
  2. Support legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate that would overturn this racist, anti-Muslim executive order.

Contact the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, and ask for your senator or representative. When you are connected with their office, you can use the script below. “My name is _____, and I’m from (city/town and ZIP code). I am calling to ask the member to act strongly to protect a core value of our democracy by holding the Trump administration accountable for violating court orders to halt implementation of some aspects of his “Muslim ban.” I also ask that they support legislation overturning this dangerous, ill-conceived executive order entirely.” 

Call three times to be connected to each of your senators and your representative. Call volumes have been high, so if you can’t get through, consider looking up the number for your local office—usually found on the member’s website.

Every action we can take in this extraordinary moment counts! Thank you for your commitment to justice.

In peace,

Mary Zerkel
AFSC Communities Against Islamophobia

No Papers, No Fear

The question of immigration reform continues to be pushed to the side while a bumper crop of punitive state laws “handle” the questions while tearing families and communities apart.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights decided to hold a hearing examining the laws that have been passed on the state level in response to workers, families, folks without documentation.

They invited every one but the community most impacted, the immigrants. Check out the video below from  “No Papers, No Fear” and hear from those most impacted what it has meant to live under the laws, fear, and racism that has become the “solution” to broken economies and immigration laws.

No Papers, No Fear

Yesterday the United States Commission on Civil Right held a hearing on the impactof state immigration laws on communities. The only people they forgot to invite were undocumented immigrants.


We decide to go to Birmingham, Alabama, where the hearing was held, because they cannot talk about the impact of immigration law without our voices. And because there was no space allotted to hear our stories, we made one.

During the testimony of Kris Kobach, author and advocate of Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, four of our undocumented riders stood up and spoke out about their stories. All held high signs that read “undocumented,” and did not back down unil they were escorted out of the hotel by security.

The rest of the No Papers No Fear riders arrived that afternoon. We staged a performance with our bus decorated as a homeland security transport vehicle. We freed ourselves for the handcuffs and literally freed monarch butterflies, symbols of migration. Then a banner came down, turning the bus back once again into a vehicle for justice.

When the group surged into the hotel entrance we were blocked by hotel security. They pushed us out and threatened us with arrest when we knelt in the doorway. Since we didn’t back down, they did, and we were invited inside where the only people deeply qualified to speak to the impact of immigration laws, undocumented leaers, gave testimony from Arizona and Alabama.

The day’s events are a symbol of this tour. Alabama held a conversation about us and without us. When we made ourselves known they tried to exclude us. When we would not back down we won our inclusion for the day. We are no longer waiting. If space is not made for us, we will make it ourselves.

When we entered, one of the briefing members, Commissioner Yaki gave public comment that it would be people like us that would determine the future. He asked everyone to stand up, and raise their fists to cry out “si se puede” (“yes we can”).

With that, we packed our bags and headed to meet up with Somos Tuscaloosa, to train and exchange through the weekend in Alabama, this state of hate and hope.



Thanks
No Paper No Fears Riders

SB1070: the path for immigration reform?

Rally for immigrant rights

The battle over SB1070 has gone all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to untangle where federal rights meet state rights, what constitutes racial profiling, and who at the end of the day is responsible for creating immigration reform.

The government is arguing that the law promotes racial profiling and over steps into a policy area that belongs on a federal level. The states are arguing that they have both a right and an obligation to deal with people who are undocumented within their own contexts and that while the law could create circumstances of racial profiling that would only be if it was abused by law enforcement.

The list of questions presented to the court are all worthy and represent key facets of democracy, human rights, and balance of power. At the heart of these questions is how we understand citizenship. Is it a special status that restricts the distribution of legal rights? Or is it a legal reality that confers on each of us a special responsibility for how we welcome and integrate those who come into our borders?

Sojourners and many other faith leaders feel that it is the latter. In light of that they invite those who feel that SB1070 represents a failure of democracy, human rights, and the balance of powers to write letters to their editors. Check out the link below and join the call to never understand a human being as illegal.

http://faithandimmigration.org/action/no-excuses-delaying-immigration-reform

an Immigrant Welcoming Community

Today, FSPA, together with nine other congregations of Catholic Sisters, declares itself an Immigrant Welcoming Community.

The sisters, based in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, call on President Obama and Congress to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform.   To make their point, they have issued a statement on “Welcoming Communities” and are placing billboards in the QuadCities,Des Moines, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Sioux Cityand Clinton,Iowa, this month in advance of the Iowa caucuses to make sure delegates, potential candidates and voters remember this critical issue.

“We declare ourselves ‘Welcoming Communities’ in affirmation of our Catholic tradition that holds sacred the dignity of each person,” the Sisters said in the official statement, “and we invite other communities and people of faith to join us in becoming ‘Immigrant Welcoming Communities’ through prayer, reflection, education and action.”

“Our ‘Welcoming Communities’ stance is a direct response to the government’s ‘Secure Communities’ program which has transformed local police officers into a primary gateway for deportation,” explained the sisters.

“The results have been hundreds of thousands of detentions and deportations, serious civil and human rights concerns, due process violations and damaged trust between immigrant communities and local police.”

They further noted that “the ‘Secure Communities’ process was marketed to local law enforcement agencies as a way to deal with serious and dangerous criminals. In fact, low-priority, non-violent offenders or even lawful permanent residents are being funneled into this program which is breaking up families, promoting racial profiling, and fueling a fear-filled and hateful anti-immigrant atmosphere.”

National immigration reform organizations assert that the “Secure Communities” program has actually made communities less safe because many individuals are afraid to report crimes that they experience or witness for fear of being deported or having neighbors, family members or friends deported.  As a result, they state, crimes are going unreported and communities, rather than becoming “secure” are living in fear.

“Failure on the part of the federal government to reform the present unworkable immigration system has resulted in states passing legislation that is punitive and harmful to human rights,” noted the Sisters.

“We understand that enforcement of law is part of any immigration policy,” the Sisters emphasized.  “However, the present policy of involving state and local law enforcement agencies in the enforcement of federal immigration law, such as in the ‘Secure Communities’ program, is not achieving that goal.  True security lies in building relationships and respecting human rights and only true, comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform can deal with the crisis in our nation.  Therefore, we are declaring ourselves Immigrant Welcoming Communities.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/catholicsisters.

The people have spoken!

In another exciting round of recall elections, similar to those in Wisconsin, Arizona recalled Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce who was the author of S.B 1070- Arizona’s infamous “Show Me Your Papers” law.

This is a tremendous moment for immigrants, their families and supporters across the country. A moment of collective outcry that says we are not a nation built on fear and exclusion. A nation that relies on an abuse of power rather than examining our own role and responsibility in how folks come to live, work and be a part of our diverse land.

Read below and take a moment to celebrate with immigrants and advocates across the country!

Loss a stunning reversal for Pearce

Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services | Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 12:01 am

MESA – Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce – architect of some of the nation’s toughest state laws against illegal immigration – was ousted by voters Tuesday in an unprecedented recall.

Results late Tuesday showed challenger Jerry Lewis, a political newcomer, with a 53-to-45 percent margin over Pearce in his east Mesa district. Both are Republicans. A small percentage also cast ballots for Olivia Cortes, although she withdrew from the race.

Pearce conceded defeat, saying he is disappointed and will spend some time “with my family and my God” before deciding what to do next. He has not ruled out another run – including to get his seat back.

Pearce is probably best known for proposing several immigration measures – often amid opposition from his own party – including a successful 2004 ballot measure to deny services to people living here illegally, and most recently, last year’s Senate Bill 1070 to give police more power to detain and arrest illegal immigrants.

“Obviously, it was a huge part of the recall,” said Lewis, who promised a more “civil dialogue and discussion” of the entire immigration issue.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat who called for a controversial boycott of Arizona over SB 1070, said Pearce’s loss “is a game changer for Arizona and a game changer for politicians who have used the immigration issue to divide people.”

Pearce, however, said he makes no apologies for his style, which can come across as confrontational. “Am I vigilant? Yes,” he said. “When you take tough positions, people get upset. That’s because somebody has to be a leader, and we wouldn’t have accomplished what we accomplished without leadership.”

He said polls have shown that most Arizonans support SB 1070, and he still believes that.

Pearce said one reason he lost was that this was an unusual race, with no primary. That allowed all voters, including the district’s Democrats and independents, to make the final decision.

“This is going around the primary process,” Pearce said.

“Jerry Lewis could not win in a (Republican) primary,” he added, saying Lewis was the choice of Democrats. “So it doesn’t take but 10 to 15 percent of the Republicans to vote for him to make the difference.”

Lewis disputed that description of the race, calling it dishonest. He sidestepped the question of whether he could have beaten Pearce in a head-to-head primary where only Republicans were allowed to vote. “That’s a hypothetical question,” Lewis said. “I don’t know the answer to that.”

Lewis, a charter school executive, said he never ran for office in a regular primary “because I never wanted to be a politician.”

He said one reason he probably won is he had support from Hispanic voters, many of whom are Democrats.

Despite being rejected by the voters in the district, Pearce said he would not have done anything any different since he was first elected to the Legislature in 2000.

“We’re Number One in the nation in Second Amendment liberties,” said Pearce, who helped push through laws allowing any adult to carry a concealed weapon. “We’re one of the top in the nation in laws that protect the unborn. So what else would I do differently? I’m pretty proud of that record.”

Pearce blamed his defeat in part on “heavy outside money” from liberal groups and unions, but at the same time boasted about the fact that he received donations from contributors in 40 states.

Lewis, for his part, said he waged a clean race, suggesting Pearce supporters had not done the same.

“I was told from the beginning it would be very hard hitting, below the belt. I just didn’t realize I’d have padlocks thrown below the belt as well,” he said, in a reference to a July incident where someone threw a lock at him. “That was a symbol of things to come,” he said.

But Lewis said he has no animosity for the man he beat.

“I still love him, he’s my brother,” he said of Pearce. “And I still consider him a friend, and I hope that we can work together in bringing about a fresh voice for Mesa.”

The recall election, forced by a petition drive, was the first for an Arizona legislator.

Tuesday’s vote has statewide implications in other ways. It means the 21 Senate Republicans – now including Lewis – will have to pick a replacement for Senate president.

That could shuffle the power within the chamber as would-be contenders try to line up support and promise plum committee assignments to supporters.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Carmen Duarte contributed to this report.

Lost in Detention

The FSPA Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee has been working for two years on the issue of immigration.

PBS is offering a great opportunity tonight to curl up in this great fall weather and watch a Frontline episode about the devastating impacts of detention on immigrant families and communities.

This is great opportunity to learn more about what is happening across the country as politicians refuse to reform the immigration system and instead are “creating” policy by default through extensive detention and deportation. Join with the JPIC Committee and commit to learning more about this human rights crisis tonight!

See below for more information and an action from Presente.org !

Presente

On Tuesday, October 18th, award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa presents the groundbreaking documentary Lost in Detention. It’s an exposé that reveals the devastating consequences of the mass incarceration of immigrants, and the harsh toll it takes on families, women and children.

Hinojosa discussed  Secure Communities (S-Comm) and other issues highlighted in the documentary. Check out the video and you will see why we all need to tune in to Lost in Detention on PBS. Click below to let us know you’re watching on Tuesday and to see the exclusive interview. When you’re done, forward this email to friends and family and post this video on Facebook and Twitter.

http://act.presente.org/signup/lostindetention/

The astonishing and unprecedented footage in Lost in Detention has the power to change how people understand the immigration crisis and motivate them to act. The film starts with the highly criticized Secure Communities (S-Comm) program and goes on to give a look at the overall system of detention and incarceration – and on the physical and sexual abuse that has become commonplace.

Click here for more information on Lost in Detention and to find your local listing.

Thanks so much!

Culture of Cruelty: The struggle to end deportation

Please click on the link below to sign a petition to President Obama to stop the human rights violations by Border Patrol against immigrants in their custody!  To read the full report or the Executive Summary of “A Culture of Cruelty: Abuse and Impunity in U.S. Border Patrol Custody,” go to:

http://www.cultureofcruelty.org/?p=306

To see media coverage of the new report:

From USA Today:

Katerina Sinclair, a statistical consultant and research associate at the University of Arizona, oversaw the report separately from her work at the university. She said the report was funded by donations to No More Deaths and a grant from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility.

The main finding of the report “is that Border Patrol is acting with impunity and that abuse is pervasive,” she said. She said researchers expected to find abuse limited to certain shifts or certain days of the week by a small number of agents.

Instead, she said, “it was across the board. It was a horrible violation of human rights, and I don’t think that is what people were expecting at all. We were deeply shocked.”

From International Business Times:

Physical abuse was reported by 10 percent of interviewees. Physical abuses reported include sexual assault, being shoved into cacti, and being forced to walk barefoot through the desert.

One woman reported having her breasts touched in the presence of male and female guards after being forced to strip naked.

The report said that children were just as likely as adults to be abused, and spending more time in custody meant an increased chance of being abused.

There were also 416 reports of “dangerous transportation practices,” such as overcrowded vehicles and agents who purposefully drove in circles to make passengers nauseous.

The report also noted that items were often confiscated from detainees and not returned.

Several cases of evening repatriation were reported, which the study notes violates the Memorandum of Understanding and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

There were 869 reports of family separation. Seventeen of these reports came from children and 41 came from teenagers.

“Aside from the psychological agony of being separated, possibly permanently, from loved ones, women and children who are repatriated alone are vulnerable to kidnappers and sex traffickers,” the report said.

From the San Antonio Times:

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Bill Brooks said Border Patrol agents “were required to treat all those they encounter with respect and dignity.”

“This requirement is consistently addressed in training and consistently reinforced throughout an agent’s career,” he said in an email. “Mistreatment or agent misconduct will not be tolerated in any way. Any agent within our ranks that does not adhere to the highest standards of conduct will be identified and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”

It was unclear whether CBP planned to investigate the report’s allegations.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/217905/20110921/report-physical-sexual-abuse-illegal-immigrants-border-patrol.htm

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/21/us-usa-mexico-study-idUSTRE78K6NV20110921

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-09-21/border-patrol-mistreatment/50490872/1?csp=34news

http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/092111_no_more_deaths/report-alleges-border-patrol-torture-illegal-immigrants/

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2011/09/immigrant_abuses_at_hands_of_b.php

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