Las Cruces: a Welcoming City to Immigrants from Frontera Facts by the Hope Border Institute

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Frontera Facts -- Las Cruces adopts historic resolution declaring itself a “Welcoming Community for Immigrants”committed to defending immigrant rights on International Migrants’ Day

n Monday, December 18, 2017, the Las Cruces City Council adopted Resolution 18-075,declaring itself a “Welcoming Community ” and further affirming its status as an “immigrant-friendly city.” Further, Las Cruces displayed its commitment to the defense of the human rights of immigrant families and communities in the “city of crosses” (as Denise Chavez[1], the community’s veteran Latina writer and cultural activist describe it in a forthcoming novel).

December 18th is an especially appropriate day for the passage of this resolution since it iswidely observed throughout the world as “International Migrants Day” because it marks theadoption in 1990 of the UN’s first human rights convention focused on the defense of the rights of migrants. Namely, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families [2]. Continue reading

Melania Trump and Jeff Sessions need a heart-to-heart

 Photo from VOA News

Photo from VOA News

An opinion piece from The Washington Post by Irwin Redlener.  Irwin Redlener, a professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and president emeritus of Children’s Health Fund, is the author of “The Future of Us: What the Dreams of Children Mean for 21st-Century America.”

"Even assuming the worst, it is hard to imagine that anybody — even in this White House — planned to have Melania Trump’s seemingly heartfelt public statement about cherishing and protecting children utterly neutralized — almost mockingly — by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ s ice-cold reiteration of protocols for dealing with immigrant families seeking asylum status in the United States.

But there Sessions was — just hours after the first lady said that “children deserve every opportunity to enjoy their innocence” — talking tough about parents who bring their children across the southern border in an attempt to escape the violence and constant danger in their own countries. Without a hint of compassion in tone or content, Sessions declared that federal agents will arrest parents and detain children, apparently of any age, in facilities separate from the detention centers holding the parents."  Continue reading

For families of vanished migrants, unidentified remains mean answers never come

 Volunteer rescue workers found the wallet and identification of Dennis Martinez Nuñez near his remains in Arizona. He had left Honduras four months earlier to find work in the United States.

Volunteer rescue workers found the wallet and identification of Dennis Martinez Nuñez near his remains in Arizona. He had left Honduras four months earlier to find work in the United States.

By Bob Ortega in CNN Investigates:  

"(CNN)One day last May, in the desert southwest of the town of Ajo, Arizona, search and rescue volunteers discovered two long, white bones near a mesquite tree. They had little flesh on them and gnaw marks from some carnivore. But they were clearly human -- a thigh bone and a humerus, or upper arm bone.

Ely Ortiz and the members of his rescue crew, Aguilas del Desierto, or Desert Eagles, spread out across the flat, sere desert. They found a pair of New Balance running shoes, a section of spine, a blue polo shirt, a pair of black trousers. In the pockets, Ortiz found a well-creased birthday card and a black wallet with a Honduran ID card for Dennis Martinez Nuñez. Despite the serious expression in his photo, the clean-shaven Martinez looked younger than his age of 30.

Through Facebook, the Desert Eagles reached his family that night. Martinez had set out four months earlier from the gang-ridden Colonia Villa Franca neighborhood of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. A Honduran Air Force veteran, he hoped to find work in the United States so he could send money back to his pregnant wife."  Continue reading

How do you capture a mass-killer suspect without firing a shot? Ask Toronto police.

 Investigators view a damaged van seized by police after multiple people were struck by the vehicle Toronto on Monday. (Saul Porto/Reuters)

Investigators view a damaged van seized by police after multiple people were struck by the vehicle Toronto on Monday. (Saul Porto/Reuters)

From Amanda Erickson of The Washington Post:  "As people lay dying, the driver climbed out of his van and pointed an object at the police.

The man, later identified by authorities as Alek Minassian, had just plowed into a crowd of pedestrians on a sidewalk at more than 30 mph, killing 10 and wounding 15 more. “Kill me,” he screamed as he rapidly raised and lowered the object in his hand.

Instead, a police officer moved slowly toward the man, weapon drawn.

“Get down,” he insisted. The man said he had a gun, but the officer continued forward. “I don't care,” he said. “Get down.”

Within seconds, the suspect had raised both hands. The officer quickly got him onto his stomach and handcuffed. Not a single gun shot was fired in the exchange, earning the officer plaudits for his restraint."  Continue reading

The New Refugees Written by Social Justice team member, Dr. Mark Lusk

 Photo by Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Photo by Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” From a poem by Warsan Shire (Somali).

Throughout its history, the United States has been a sanctuary for people around the world who have fled persecution, genocide and terrible hardship. At the end of World War II, refugees and displaced persons sought asylum in this country. As the Vietnam War wound down, many thousands of refugees from that country and its neighbors were admitted and granted safe haven. As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the U.S. agreed not to return refugees to countries where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.

Notwithstanding these historic commitments, this country is turning away, deporting, arresting and detaining thousands of persons who present themselves at the border for asylum. The difference now is that the immigrants are from Central and Latin America. Tonight, thousands of beds in detention centers, many of which are operated by for-profit corporations, will be filled with individuals who are here because what’s at home is riskier than arrest and incarceration here. Continue reading

We live as second-class citizens': what it's like to face border agents every day

The Guardian’s review of claims made against US Customs and Border Protection over the last dozen years shows cause for concern over unreasonable search and seizure. Article by Sarah Macaraeg. Photos by Juan Antonio Labreche/CJ Project

The moment that Jorge Rodriguez noticed five armed border patrol agents beginning to surround his car, his first instinct was to tell his 17-year-old cousin, in the passenger seat next to him, to pick up his hands and not make any sudden movements.

The pair, both US citizens, had been stopped on their way home from a movie at a checkpoint outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, approximately 60 miles north of the border. The young men had already answered questions about their nationality and where they had been that evening.

They were not armed. The only problem was that Rodriguez, then aged 23, had refused to consent to a warrantless search of his family’s vehicle, citing the constitution.

“I was trying to show my cousin ... ‘You didn’t do anything wrong and you have rights,’” Rodriguez said. But wary of the officers’ hands on their holsters, he opted to concede, granting the inspection of his backseat.

“I’m aware of what this agency has gotten away with,” he said.  Continue reading

The Hyper Militarization of the Border and Its Consequences

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Over 7,000 Bodies Have Been Found at the US-Mexican Border Since the ’90s....and that's an underestimate by Todd Miller in The Guardian

At first, I thought I had inadvertently entered an active war zone. I was on a lonely two-lane road in southern New Mexico heading for El Paso, Texas. Off to the side of the road, hardly concealed behind some desert shrubs, I suddenly noticed what seemed to be a tank. For a second, I thought I might be seeing an apparition. When I stopped to take a picture, a soldier wearing a camouflage helmet emerged from the top of the Stryker, a 19-ton, eight-wheeled combat vehicle that was regularly used in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He looked my way and I offered a pathetic wave. To my relief, he waved back, then settled behind what seemed to be a large surveillance display mounted atop the vehicle. With high-tech binoculars, he began to monitor the mountainous desert that stretched toward Mexico, 20 miles away, as if the enemy might appear at any moment.

That was in 2012 and, though I had already been reporting on the militarization of the US-Mexican border for years, I had never seen anything like it. Barack Obama was still president, and it would be another six years before Donald Trump announced, with much fanfare, that he was essentially going to declare war at the border and send in the National Guard. (“We really haven’t done that before,” Trump told the media on April 3, “or certainly not very much before.”)  Continue reading

 

What does it take for a Mexican journalist whose life is in danger to get asylum in the U.S.?

 As is not uncommon in the broken labyrinth that is the American immigration-justice system, the Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s asylum case dragged on for years.  Photograph by Bill Wechter / Getty

As is not uncommon in the broken labyrinth that is the American immigration-justice system, the Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s asylum case dragged on for years.

Photograph by Bill Wechter / Getty

By Steve Coll in The New Yorker:

"For years, Emilio Gutiérrez Soto worked as a reporter and Jack-of-all-trades for El Diario del Noroeste in Ascensión, a town of about fifteen thousand people in Mexico’s northern Chihuahua state. “It was just regular everyday news—the crime beat, sports, entertainment, social events,” he told me recently. In addition to reporting and writing, Gutiérrez Soto sold ads and kept the office accounts.

In 2005, while covering crime, he interviewed victims of assaults and robberies at a hotel called La Estrella, in Puerto Palomas, another town in Chihuahua. “The people I interviewed told me that the criminals were dressed in military attire,” he recalled. He wrote up the story, and its publication “made the military very angry.” A lieutenant colonel in the military summoned him by telephone to a meeting in Ascensión. There, according to court papers that Gutiérrez Soto filed, a group of about twenty soldiers, led by General Alfonso García Vega, demanded that Gutiérrez Soto stop reporting about the military and apologize. They also told him that he was being placed under “close surveillance.”

The reporter consulted his newspaper colleagues about what to do. “My editor told me that I was free to do whatever I chose,” he recalled. “I decided to go public.” The next day, he wrote a story under the headline “Members of the Military Threaten Reporter’s Life.” He withheld his byline. It “was a decision by the newsroom,” he told me. “We knew some of what we were reporting was sensitive, so we decided to sign a lot of the stories ‘by the staff.’ ” He wasn’t sure that the strategy would protect him, he said, because “I had my own writing style, so I was pretty easy to identify.” But he agreed to remove his name—a decision that would later have consequences in American immigration court."  Continue reading

Cell phones help fuel jump in bank accounts

By Ken Sweet, AP Business Writer:  

"...Sub-Saharan Africa saw big growth as well, fueled by mobile phone-based accounts. These "mobile money" accounts, as they are sometimes known, are tied to a person's cell phone account instead of a bank, and allow users to transfer money to family or businesses.

In countries such as Kenya, roughly three quarters of Kenyans have a mobile money account, and other Sub-Saharan countries like Zimbabwe and Uganda also saw jumps in mobile phone account usage in the last few years. Mobile money accounts also appear to be gaining popularity in other parts of the continent as well, not just East Africa, to places like West Africa.

World Bank experts expect that mobile money accounts will be the primary way to drive the remaining 1.7 billion people without a bank account into financial services. The bank estimates that 1.1 billion of those 1.7 billion unbanked adults have a mobile phone, and could be more easily brought into the financial system."  Continue Reading

Standing Room Crowd listens to Tony Payan talk about Mexican elections

 Drs Francisco Llera Pacheco, Tony Payan and Oscar J. Martinez

Drs Francisco Llera Pacheco, Tony Payan and Oscar J. Martinez

There was a spirited discussion following Dr. Tony Payan's presentation on the upcoming Mexican Presidential election. We learned that it won't just be an election for President, but for more than 3000 other political positions throughout Mexico--the largest election in Mexico's history. Dr. Payan also talked strategy of the various parties. The standing room crowd left having learned a great deal about this aspect of our neighbor to the south.

April 29 Forum, "Mexico's Crucial July 1 Presidential Election: Who Might Win and What Will It Mean for the United States, NAFTA, and the Border?”

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Join us for the next Social Justice forum, April 29th, 2:30-4 pm at the El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon. Our speaker will be Tony Payan. Tony is well-known in El Paso-Ciudad Juárez. After teaching at UTEP for some years, he moved to Houston and is currently serving as the Director of the Mexico Center at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. His subject will be of great interest to people in our area. 

On July 1, 2018, Mexican voters will select a new president who will face colossal challenges inthe years ahead, including worsening mass violence, rising drug trafficking, widespread poverty, and a hostile U.S. president who constantly disparages Mexico, deports Mexican immigrants at record levels, threatens to end the North American Free Trade Agreement, and insists on building a mammoth border wall.  Who among the contenders for the Mexican presidency has what it takes to tackle such gargantuan problems?  No one is more knowledgeable about Mexican politics than Tony Payan.  Do not miss this forum.

Tony Payan, Speaker for April 29 forum, "Mexico's Crucial July 1 Presidential Election"

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Tony Payan travels to Mexico frequently and is in continuous contact with Mexican officials and scholars.

On July 1, 2018, Mexican voters will select a new president who will face colossal challenges in the years ahead, including worsening mass violence, rising drug trafficking, widespread poverty, and a hostile U.S. president who constantly disparages Mexico, deports Mexican immigrants at record levels, threatens to end the North American Free Trade Agreement, and insists on building a mammoth border wall. 

Who among the contenders for the Mexican presidency has what it takes to tackle such gargantuan problems?  No one is more knowledgeable about Mexican politics than Tony Payan.

Tony is the Director of the Mexico Center at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.  Payan’s research focuses primarily on border studies, particularly the U.S.-Mexico border. His work includes studies of border governance, border flows and immigration, as well as border security and organized crime. He is also an adjunct associate professor at Rice and a professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. Between 2001 and 2015, Payan was a professor of political science at The University of Texas at El Paso. He has authored two books, Cops, Soldiers and Diplomats: Understanding Agency Behavior in the War on Drugs and The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration and Homeland Security (2006 and 2016 editions). He has also co-edited six volumes and authored several book chapters and journal articles on border and Mexico topics.

Don't miss this forum, Sunday, April 29 from 2:30-4 pm in the El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon.

Presidential frontrunner offers Mexico a new deal in Ciudad Juárez

 Mexican presidential frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Ciudad Juárez.

Mexican presidential frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Ciudad Juárez.

From Kent Paterson in the NMPolitics.net:  

Defying local fears of a poor turnout because of the Easter holiday, the people arrived by the thousands. They were old, young, students, teachers, workers, indigenous and non-indigenous, believers and non-believers. Entire families came in tow.
Withstanding a hot sun warming up Easter morning, enthusiastic supporters of Mexican presidential frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO as he is popularly called, gathered at the Benito Juárez Monument near downtown Ciudad Juárez, where their man delivered a stinging critique Mexico’s economic model and proposed sweeping changes he said will benefit the nation’s financially struggling majority.
AdvertisementWhile waiting for López Obrador to speak, maquiladora (border export factory) worker Jose Lopez said he liked the three-time presidential contender because “he’s more transparent than others.” Like many juarenses, Lopez said low wages and high living costs make getting by a difficult proposition. “You buy a television in December and you pawn it in January,” Lopez said. “(AMLO) can solve some of the problems we have here, like hunger and delinquency.”
Glenda Simental also works in a maquiladora, earning the equivalent of about $77 per week. The single mom said she grappled not only with rising food costs but expensive school fees for her children, despite a law that prohibits schools from charging mandatory fees. “You have to work a lot. It’s not easy to support kids in school,” Simental said. “Many principals won’t allow students in without paying.”  Continue reading

In Mexico, Candidates Move Away From Cambridge Analytica

From "All Things Considered" on NPR:  

Candidates in Mexico's volatile presidential race are scrambling to distance themselves from the disgraced big-data firm Cambridge Analytica.
Executives of the company boasted on tape, secretly recorded by a British TV station, of their ability to influence elections in numerous countries including Mexico. Cambridge Analytica — which is being scrutinized for its ties to Facebook and the Trump campaign in the U.S. — had set up shop in Mexico, even partnering with a local data mining app.
But once that secret tape emerged, the major presidential candidates were quick to declare their campaigns hadn't hired or received data from the company.
Presidential candidate and current front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the leftist Morena Party, told reporters Wednesday that he warned Mexicans about Cambridge Analytica working in the country months ago. "Now that it's a worldwide scandal," he said, "people are finally paying attention."  Click to read more or hear the broadcast

April 29 Forum, "Mexico's Crucial July 1 Presidential Election: Who Might Win and What Will It Mean for the United States, NAFTA, and the Border?”

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Join us for the next Social Justice forum, April 29th, 2:30-4 pm at the El Paso Public Library downtown, 501 N. Oregon. Our speaker will be Tony Payan. Tony is well-known in El Paso-Ciudad Juárez. After teaching at UTEP for some years, he moved to Houston and is currently serving as the Director of the Mexico Center at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. His subject will be of great interest to people in our area. 

On July 1, 2018, Mexican voters will select a new president who will face colossal challenges inthe years ahead, including worsening mass violence, rising drug trafficking, widespread poverty, and a hostile U.S. president who constantly disparages Mexico, deports Mexican immigrants at record levels, threatens to end the North American Free Trade Agreement, and insists on building a mammoth border wall.  Who among the contenders for the Mexican presidency has what it takes to tackle such gargantuan problems?  No one is more knowledgeable about Mexican politics than Tony Payan.  Do not miss this forum.

Militarization of Texas-Mexico Border a Sign of Complacency, but Not From Border Residents

 Hundreds of people march along a levee in South Texas toward the Rio Grande to oppose from The Portland Press Herald

Hundreds of people march along a levee in South Texas toward the Rio Grande to oppose from The Portland Press Herald

Written by Dani Marrero Hi, Lissette Castillo and Sadie Hernandez in  the Texas Observer:

"Earlier this week, the Observer published a piece by Domingo Martinez titled, “I Grew Up on the Texas-Mexico Border, but Now I Barely Recognize It.” Martinez laments the tremendous changes Brownsville, the border city where he grew up, has undergone since his departure 23 years ago.

Pointing out the 21-foot-tall border fence, a constant visual reminder of this country’s racist and xenophobic insecurities and the extreme over-policing our region is subjected to by multiple law enforcement agencies, Martinez calls Brownsville a “militarized zone.”

The border is indisputably militarized. That, however, is about the only thing that Martinez gets right. Throughout the rest of the piece, Martinez paints a deeply inaccurate, disrespectful and damaging depiction of the city of Brownsville and its residents.

Martinez, who genuinely appears to be surprised that the city he once called home was not frozen in time the moment he left, is guilty of disrespecting and erasing a rich history of past and current resistance efforts. Because he notices changes, he blames residents for the extremely violent and forceful measures of militarization that have been imposed upon them. He states that the “people who live here need to be much more involved in the determinations of their own future, and be far more vocal, instead of passive and submissive while waves upon waves of occupational government forces move in to make their future for them.” Although he hasn’t lived in the Rio Grande Valley for over two decades, he goes on to add that the “people who should be shouting down the out-of-towners who don’t depend on it are being dangerously, stupidly silent.”  Continue reading

Caravan to travel across Texas to educate immigrants on rights over 'sanctuary cities' law

From Aileen B. Flores of the El Paso Times:  

About 30 people shouted, “No SB 4, no SB 4,” as they gathered Friday morning in front of Bowie High School to launch the TogetherJuntos Caravan, which will travel across Texas to educate immigrants about their constitutional rights in the United States.
The caravan, led by the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso and other pro-immigrant groups, is an effort to resist the enactment of Senate Bill 4, the so-called “show me your papers” or sanctuary cities law, that was upheld by a federal appeals court in March.
SB 4 requires local police to cooperate with federal immigration agents' "detainers," or requests to hold suspects who might be subject to deportation, and allows local authorities to ask people they've detained, including during routine traffic stops, about their immigration status.
“This is terrible. This comes at a time when there is a climate of persecution against immigrants, when our communities are being criminalized, at a time when 'Dreamers' are being denied the opportunity to stay in this country,” said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights. “In addition, local police are being asked to persecute immigrant families when they are supposed to protect them.” Continue reading

How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

 Image thanks to (Benjamin C. Tankersley/For The Washington Post

Image thanks to (Benjamin C. Tankersley/For The Washington Post

By Michael Cohen at The Washington Post:  "Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office: Big Oil, Big Pharma and the gun lobby among them. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25 percent a decade ago, a Huffington Post report found. In total, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds."  Continue reading

There was a 'giant picnic' at the US-Mexico border

 Instagram user @JR posted this ariel view of the "Giant Picnic" at the border.

Instagram user @JR posted this ariel view of the "Giant Picnic" at the border.

By Khushbu Shah at CNN:  "Building a massive dining table across both sides of the US-Mexico border in the small Mexican town of Tecate, artist JR painted "the eyes of the dreamer" on top of the bench. In a special one-day-only setup, one eye is meticulously placed on either side of the border. People gathered around the table to enjoy the sun and the food on both sides." Continue reading

El Paso needs Crisis Intervention Teams as part of its law enforcement program

 Attorney Enrique Moreno

Attorney Enrique Moreno

Great forum today, Sunday, March 25, 2018, on Law Enforcement.  Attorney Enrique Moreno talked about on-going court cases involving men with mental health issues who died at the hands of the police. He emphasized the need for the El Paso Police Dept. to have Crisis Intervention Teams, as other major cities in Texas have.