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

Posts tagged ‘Obama’

68,000

Photo courtesy of NBC news.

Photo courtesy of NBC news .

As we move toward November 4th and head to the polls I wanted to share a perspective that is often left out of the mainstream media. Jerry Large, columnist for the Seattle Times, drawing on the work of Professor Dana Frank, offers another look at the more than 68,000 children that fled to our border just this year. Professor Frank and Jerry Large offer us a glimpse into the worlds edited from our nightly news. As we get ready to select a new group of leaders who will make decision on issues like immigration, it can be helpful to hear the voices typically left out of the conversation.

“U.S. Has Hand in Honduran Mess” (Reprinted from the Seattle Times)

Things have gotten much worse since Dana Frank had an opinion piece published in The New York Times with this headline: “In Honduras, a Mess Made in the U.S.

This year, more than 68,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended after crossing the southwestern border of the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The vast majority are from three Central American countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Frank, a history professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, says the U.S. is partly to blame for the flood of youngsters.

I spoke with Frank last week before she spoke about the situation at the University of Washington. She lived in Seattle in the 1980s when the headlines about Central America were about wars that raged between U.S.-supported right-wing forces and leftists backed by the Soviets and Cubans.

She thought we’d learned some things from our involvement there in the 1980s, but we are back. Last time the Cold War was the justification and this time it’s the War on Drugs, and it seems, she said, that the more we support a government, the worse conditions get. Not surprising because we always seem to be in bed with the worst sort.

Her research focus has been on Honduras, which she said has been most tied to U.S. influence. The U.S. is particularly intent on preserving that relationship, she said, because in recent years some countries in Central America have elected left-center governments that are exercising more independence from U.S. influence.

Frank was researching a book on Honduras in 2009 when the elected government was overthrown in a military coup. The current president is Juan Orlando Hernandez, whom she calls “a dangerous Machiavellian thug.”

Frank said the coup changed her life and the direction of her work. People she knew were being arrested and mistreated. “I asked myself, what can I do? What powers do I have? What is my moral responsibility?”

Before the coup, Frank had researched labor issues. Her first book was “Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement.” She’d first gone to Central America at the invitation of women in banana-worker unions.

But after the coup she started paying attention to U.S. policy in the region, studying it in detail and building expertise. She knew how to gather and analyze facts, and how to present them in academic papers, books, newspaper articles and public testimony. She put all of her skills to use.

In recent years she has testified before Congress, the Canadian Parliament and the California Assembly about human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras.

She told me those children at the border aren’t coming in search of economic gain or in pursuit of the American dream. They are fleeing the brutality of their homelands. The numbers of children and adults fleeing grew rapidly as Honduras became the murder capital of the world, she said.

Their well-being is threatened by drug gangs, by the police and the military. The U.S. sends at least $25 million a year in aid to the government and yet, she said, drug dealers are present at every level of government.

Most of the people fleeing are coming from Honduras, and the Obama administration’s response has been to offer the government there more help and to try harder to seal our own borders.

Frank says we shouldn’t see the children as a threat to us, but ask instead whether we have helped disrupt their lives.

She believes Congress can be persuaded to push for change in our Central America policies if people here become aware of the situation there, and the role the U.S. plays in it, and then press their representatives to act.

Hondurans wouldn’t leave in droves if their country were economically stable and more humane. U.S. trade policies and financial support for the police and military are part of the problem.

And, she said, we could more effectively deal with drugs though legalization and treatment here.

Jerry Large’s column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com

 

 

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Join the Dreamers

Watch the video and join with Presente! and advocate for immigrant youth in detention.

Earlier this week President Obama gave a major speech in El Paso, Texas, where he renewed his commitment to immigration reform.

That’s great news, and we’re ready to continue fighting to make immigration reform and the DREAM Act a reality. But the truth is that there are thousands of young people facing the threat of deportation right now–including University of Texas student Raul Zamora, who hopes to be an architect but first must survive his May 26 deportation hearing.

The President has the power to make sure thousands of young men and women like Raul don’t have to worry about deportation. He can issue an Executive Order that would stop the deportation of DREAMers until we get this critical legislation passed. And if he’s serious about immigration reform, that’s exactly what he should do.

In this critical time following his speech, the media will look to see how the public reacts. If we can show that thousands of us are demanding action right now, we can make a real impact on the public debate around the DREAM Act and help save thousands of amazing students from being forced from the only country they know as home. Can you click below to automatically sign this petition asking President Obama to use his executive authority to stop the deportations of DREAMers? Click here:

http://act.presente.org/go/285?akid=353.187068.B1dvZI&t=5

Sadly, Raul’s story is not unique. In Texas alone, there is Benita Veliz who came to the United States from Mexico when she was eight years old, graduated as the valedictorian of her high school, and is now in removal proceedings. Mario Perez came to this country when he was five and now studies math and statistics as he fights his deportation order.

DREAMers like these across the country have asked the President to use his executive authority to stop their deportations. Unfortunately, despite the advice of legal scholars1 and calls from members of his own party2, the President has refused to halt the deportations of young people like Raul, Benita and Mario.

The longer he waits to take action, the more young people will be deported. They need our help and we need to pressure the Obama administration to grant executive relief for them.

Please join us and ask your friends and family to do the same.

http://act.presente.org/go/285?akid=353.187068.B1dvZI&t=7

References

1. “Legal Experts Weigh in on Executive Branch Authority,” Immigration Policy Center, 4-29-11
http://act.presente.org/go/283?akid=353.187068.B1dvZI&t=9

2. “Twenty-Two Senators Ask Obama to Stop Deporting DREAMers,” Colorlines.com, 4-11-11
http://act.presente.org/go/284?akid=353.187068.B1dvZI&t=11

“Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin.”

As Ella Baker, the civil rights organizer, famously said of Martin Luther King, “Martin didn’t make the movement, the movement made Martin.”
 
Dear All – I found this article on Truthout and I wanted to share it with all of you because I feel it captures the energy in this new “Obama” moment well.
 
It highlights the the incredible importance of having our first President of color as well as the incredible potential in what Obama has promised on the campaign trail. It also notes that the fullest realization of those promises are not dependent on Obama alone but require for each of us to pay attention, advocate, and demand that Obama and his administration follow through on what they named as their priorities.
 
We sit at a unique crossroads in our history; the economy, international relationships, environment, and human rights practices are at all time lows, each in differing states of severe disrepair. What Obama faces is monumental – what we face as a nation and as a world is monumental, historic, and vastly critical for the well being of earth and all of creation.
 
In this season of expectant waiting it feels the perfect time to stop and reflect on the deep dreams of this “Obama moment” as well as the deep needs of the world and begin to imagine the way forward. A way marked not by one man or one position of power but shaped by the many voices, hands, visions, and dreams that make up the whole.  Peace Liz
 
http://www.truthout.org/120208A

 

Elizabeth Deligio
FSPA JPICC Coordinator
8th Day Center f orJustice
205 W. Monroe Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 641-5151

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