Friday, October 28, 2011

Border Communities Remember Immigrants Lost Due to Violence in Mexico & Broken U.S. Immigration System

~After sharing stories of loved ones lost forever, hundreds will process four-miles to El Paso's downtown San Jacinto Plaza~

The combination of a failed immigration system in the U.S. and unaccountable violence in Mexico has proven deadly for migrants. In the past two years U.S. immigrant deportations to Mexico have surged — often provoking terrible consequences. Not only are deportees separated from their families, but many are also ultimately killed in Mexico due to corruption and the Mexican government’s failure to protect it's people from violence.

The Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) in El Paso, Texas will pay tribute to those murdered migrants as part of their annual Dia De Los Muertos event.

On November 1, BNHR will remember those who have lost loved ones due to the current situation in Mexico and the broken U.S. immigration system. Immigrant families of victims of the unaccountable violence in Mexico will give testimonies and call for justice at a 2 p.m. press conference at the BNHR El Paso office. After the press conference, a procession --anticipated to number 250--will march together toward San Jacinto Plaza in downtown El Paso to join Occupy El Paso. Marchers will wear black and hold crosses and enlarged photos of victims of violence.

Mass detentions, deportations and the death of migrants at the border has created multi-billion dollar profits for a few. BNHR stands in solidarity with all who believe human rights matter more than profits.
Information source: Border Network for Human Rights
Image source: La Mujer Obrera. Image promotes a Day of the Dead event this weekend at La Mujer Obrera in El Paso, Texas.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is Slavery Making a Comeback in America?

Lucia Mann 
~Former Journalist Wants World to Wake Up to Slavery Crisis~

Just this week, human trafficking reared its ugly head in Juarez. Slavery is a reality in our world--and it exists much closer to us than we care to think. [SEE: Human Trafficking, A Reality in El Paso on NewsChannel 9]. I received the following info about a book by Lucia Mann from Ginny Grimsley, a public relations agent. All emphasis below is mine.

A woman was recently sentenced to 140 years in prison after using two Nigerian immigrants as personal unpaid servants in her luxury home in Atlanta, Georgia. A few days later, two Ukrainian brothers were convicted of smuggling desperate villagers into the United States to work long hours, cleaning retail stores and office buildings at little or no pay. The prosecuting U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, Daniel Velez, said it was “modern-day slavery. It’s hiding in plain sight.”

However, according to a woman who lived through the racial prejudice, segregation and slavery in post World War II Europe, the slavery crisis in the modern world is far greater than that.

“Anyone who thinks slavery died when America abolished it in the 1800s has a shock coming to them,” said Lucia Mann, whose mother was a sex slave and a WWII concentration camp survivor. Mann, a former journalist and author of Rented Silence, a novel about slavery and racial prejudice based on her life experiences and those of other persecuted souls she witnessed says:

“According to the United Nations, there are more than 27 million slaves worldwide, which are more than twice the number of those who were enslaved over the 400 years that transatlantic slavers trafficked humans to work in the Americas. Many are forced into prostitution while others are used as unpaid laborers used to manufacture goods many of us buy in the U.S. In fact, it’s almost impossible to buy clothes or goods anymore without inadvertently supporting the slave trade.”

Mann said that the crisis extends far greater than in the African and Asian nations typically associated with slavery or indentured servitude.

“After the hurricane in Haiti, the economy was so devastated, with as many as 3,000 people sold into slavery right there in their own country,” she added. “It affects all racial groups and slaves come from every single continent on the planet. The irony is that there are more slaves now that slavery is illegal than there were when it was a legal part of international commerce. Moreover, because of its illegal nature, it’s practically impossible to track and contain. It’s not a matter of how to stop it. It’s a matter of how we even begin to address it.”

One of the reasons Mann wrote her book was to establish an awareness of the problem, so that people could have a frame of reference for action.

“The wrongs of the past as well as the present must continue to be exposed so that they can be righted in the present and future,” Mann added. “This means educating society about evil and injustice and motivating them to take steps to ease others’ pain and anguish. The key is to get people aware of it, and then let them know what they can do to end the practice. In America, the first thing we need to do is address our own consumer habits. To help, the United Nations has created an online and mobile phone application to help people track if what they buy is supporting slavers.”

Mann said the awareness and concern of the American people are the first steps to ending slavery around the world.

“If there is no money to be made from enslaving people, it will end,” she said. “Many innocent people become the victims of viciousness or the prey of prejudice. While fear and anger are filling the cells and souls of innocents, the rest of us can bolster their spirits and lighten their load by having the guts to fight their fight and the heart to bring hope to humanity. Courage and commitment are powerful weapons and we should not hesitate to use them against the dishonorable people of the world.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Income Drops, Racism Spikes – The Price of Recession?

~Secret Service Pioneer Sees The Beginnings Of A Bigotry Backlash~

In Alabama, fields of tomatoes are ripening – with almost no workers to pick them.

In that state’s classrooms, teachers face rows of empty desks. Many of their students suddenly disappeared, having fled with their families.

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld much of Alabama’s tough new law governing undocumented immigrants on September 28, many workers – mostly Mexicans – quickly packed up and left in fear. Some of them, according to press reports, gave up their homes and jobs even though they were working here legally. They were afraid to stay.

Their experience is not so different from that of countless American citizens who, because of their ethnicity, have been legally pushed out of communities and workplaces, writes Donald W. Tucker, a retired Secret Service agent and author of The Two-Edged Sword (, who rose through the ranks to become chief of security for the nation’s federal courts.

“It’s an old problem and a continuing one in the United States,” he writes, “from the overt prejudice against Irish Americans in the 19th century to the Jim Crow laws that segregated black Americans in the 20th century. It’s an issue that should concern everyone. Limiting opportunities for any group of people weakens us by snuffing the potential contributions of bright minds and breeding a hopelessness that can lead to higher crime rates.”

“The country still has serious discrimination challenges, not only with the blacks, but with other groups of color,” Tucker writes. “We have a long way to go before we can say without guilt that we walk our talk as a ‘land of the free and home of the brave.’”
Tucker is a black American who grew up in the ghetto of Chicago’s South Side. His “one in a million” winning lottery ticket out was a football scholarship to the University of Iowa.

With a bachelor’s in criminology/sociology, he became one of the first black federal drug and law enforcement agents in 1961.

However, like those immigrant workers in Alabama, there were many who tried to push him back from whence he came.

“Whether posing as a drug buyer or dealer in counterfeit money, protecting a political dignitary or performing administrative duties, I always knew that for many I was ‘just a blackie,’ one step removed from the cotton fields,” he writes in his memoir, “The Two-Edged Sword.”

When he joined the U.S. Secret Service in 1965, he was one of only 19 blacks out of more than 300 agents nationwide. The black agents, he writes, never stood “shoulder to shoulder” with their white colleagues when it came to commendations and promotions.

He initially hid his anger and kept quiet for fear of losing his job. But he could not keep quiet forever.

“Around the office and in Secret Service circles I became known as Tucker, the Troublemaker,” he writes, “the agent who would stand up for any other black — or white agent, too, if need be — to fight for equal recognition and equal consideration.”
~Secret Service Pioneer Sees The Beginnings Of A Bigotry Backlash~

Decades of working for change in federal law enforcement posts throughout the country sensitized Tucker to bigotry and legal discrimination against any minority group. He worked as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission counselor in all of the agencies he served, and became instrumental in developing diversity and sensitivity training for managers and employees.

As the economic slump continues to cost Americans their homes and jobs, the first to suffer in the panicked backlash will be minority populations, he notes. Evidence: The Arizona Act, which would have, among other mandates, made it a crime for immigrants to be without the documents proving their legal status; and, of course, Alabama’s new law. These actions increase the propensities for violence when people feel backed into a corner and feel the need to strike out.

“Hatred and bigotry are rampant,” he writes.

As Americans fret over the future of their financial investments, they must remember their imperative to protect a greater investment – the contributions of minorities to the strength of the nation.

I received this information from a public relations person. It is consonant with my beliefs, and I will pursue this further. Billie

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Partisan politics, wedge-issue campaign tactics sabotage immigration reform efforts

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) applauded a ruling by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta late last week that puts on hold parts of Alabama's controversial HB 56, the state's effort to demand papers from immigrants and otherwise make life difficult for Latinos and immigrants in Alabama. Rep. Gutierrez is the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Immigration.

A statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez:

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an injunction and I am happy that the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder are acting to prevent some of the worst aspects of Alabama's hugely discriminatory law from being implemented.  Some people have already been prosecuted and many others have been adversely affected by the Alabama law, so the sooner it is overturned in the federal courts, the better.  Today's injunction is a step in the right direction, but unfortunately still leaves the door open for racial profiling.

Click to enlarge: Why the law needs to change!

Maybe with the 11th Circuit injunction the feverish anti-immigration exclusionism engulfing Alabama is on the path to extinction, but I offer anyone in Alabama an alternative. When Alabama was not a viable location for African-American families to raise their children back 40, 50 and 60 years ago, many came north to my city of Chicago as part of the Great Migration and revitalized and reinvented Chicago. Already, as Hispanic families are seeing no future for themselves in Alabama regardless of their immigration status or even U.S. citizenship, we are seeing some follow the same trail from Alabama to Chicago. We need all the good, hardworking, and conscientious people we can get in Chicago so Alabama's loss is our gain.

We have been fighting to pass immigration reform in Congress for a decade or more to reestablish legal immigration as an alternative to illegal immigration and to get those people already here on-the-books and in the system. It is the only way to return confidence in and law and order to our immigration system and to prevent states from enacting a hodge-podge of 50 state laws on immigration, a subject the Constitution explicitly cedes to the federal government to regulate. Unfortunately, recent efforts to reform immigration have fallen victim to partisan politics and short-sighted wedge-issue campaign tactics.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A good reason never to say "illegal" immigrant

Image credit: Microsoft Office Images

"The so-called “illegals” are so not because they wish to defy the law; but, because the law does not provide them with any channels to regularize their status in our country – which needs their labor: they are not breaking the law, the law is breaking them."

~Most Reverend Thomas Wenski, Bishop of Orlando

[If you approve, you can vote Bishop Wenski "up" in the Send Love application at the bottom of this post.]

Friday, October 7, 2011

¡BASTA! Border Activist Summit for Teaching and Action

University of Texas at El Paso will host the ¡BASTA! Border Activist Summit for Teaching and Action on Tuesday, Oct. 11 through Friday, October 14. The schedule of events follows:

Tuesday, October 11th
at the Rubin Center Auditorium
6:00 – 8:00 PM           Stories from the Binational “War on Drugs”
  • John Gibler, author of To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War and Mexico Unconquered
  • Diego Osorno, author of El Cartel de Sinaloa and Nosotros Somos Los Culpables

Thursday, October 13th
El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center (UTEP campus across from Library) except as noted
8:30 AM                      Breakfast / Press Conference
9:00 –10:20 PM         Why Should I Care? 
  • Laura Carlsen/Americas Program
  • Carmen Morales, mother of UACJ student

10:30-11:50 PM        Plan Mérida John Lindsay-Poland/Fellowship of Reconciliation
Oscar Enríquez/Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte
1:00-1:30                   Impacts on Chihuahua 
                                  Victor Quintana/former Chihuahua State Legislator
1:30- 2:50 PM            Asylum and Immigration
  • Rubén García/Annunciation House (US asylum)
  • Joe Heyman/UTEP (US border militarization)

3:00- 4:50 PM            Drugs and Guns Adam 
  • Isacson/Washington Office on Latin America (drugs)
  • Colin Goddard/Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence (weapons)
  • Howard Campbell/UTEP, author of Drug War Zone (drugs)

6:00 PM                      Reception for Art Exhibition in Glass Gallery
Friday, October 14th
El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center (UTEP campus across from Library) except as noted
8:00-9:50 AM             Student Panel- UTEP student papers concerning the violence in Mexico and
policy responses
10:00-11:50 AM        Legislative/Policy Panel- Richard Wiles, Beto O’Rourke, Susie Byrd
12:00-1:30 PM           Union Breezeway – cultural activities and student speakers
Dance performance, drum circle (Echoes in the Park), student organizations
1:30-4:00 PM             Making a Difference: Student Engagement Training- free admission to a hands-on workshop, John Lindsay-Poland/Fellowship of Reconciliation and Joe Heyman/UTEP, co-facilitators
Related Events

Friday, Oct. 7  Quinn Hall, Room 212

1:30-3:00 Book Presentation: “Give Refuge to the Stranger:  The Past, Present, and Future of
Sanctuary” by Dr. Linda Rabben, anthropologist.  Discusses the human ability to provide protection and asylum to strangers, relevant to current issues on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wednesday, Oct. 12  Leech Grove

11:00 AM - 2:00 PM  MEChA Día de la Paz por la Raza Indígena y Resistencia
(Day of Peace for the Indigenous Race and Resistance):

Danca Azteca Omecoatl Opening
Vossa Nova Music Performance Trio
Chicanos Poetry Session
and Aztec Calender Preservation Forum