Helping People Trapped in a Vicious System at the Border
Al Otro Lado, MigriMap and WILPF Immigration Chair Danilo Castillo
Danilo Castillo volunteered to become the WILPF Fresno Immigration subcommittee chair in May of last year. He is a Fresno City College student who is planning a career in immigration law.
In August, he volunteered for the Border Rights Project Al Otro Lado in Tijuana, doing an internship. For the December WILPF meeting, he and some of his colleagues, including experienced immigration attorney Camille Cook and UC Davis Ph.D. candidate Lizbeth De la Cruz Santana, presented to WILPF on how current U.S. policies affect refugees, deportees, migrants and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border at Tijuana/San Diego.
They emphasized that only changes in U.S. policy will resolve the problems, but they have begun work on a project to at least alleviate a little of the suffering.
What occurs at the border? The recently enacted and falsely labeled “Migrant Protection Protocols” (also known as “Remain in Mexico”) mean that people who arrive at the border requesting asylum are not admitted into the United States, even as detainees, although in law this right exists.
Instead, in towns along the border, a list without basis in U.S. law is maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and Grupos Beta, an offshoot of the Mexican government’s Instituto Nacional de Migración. When people arrive at the border, they are given a tiny piece of paper with a written number; they must remain ready to respond when their number is called, currently about a six-month wait.
This means waiting, often as whole families, in a dangerous environment where they are easily identifiable as outsiders. Human rights groups have pointed out the violence that migrants face. Tens of thousands of migrants from Central America face human rights abuses at the hands of gangs, kidnappers, robbers, sexual predators and government agents while in transit.
Once their number is called, they are passed into U.S. short-term immigration detention, known as “las hieleras”—the iceboxes. The temperatures are set low, the floors are cement, the lights are on 24 hours a day, there is inadequate food and sanitation.
People are routinely kept in these conditions for longer than the 72-hour maximum established by U.S. law. At some point, they will have a telephone interview with an asylum officer. They are then sent back to Mexico to await a court date.
At their hearing in immigration court, if they ask for an attorney they are given a continuance and sent back to Mexico. This back-and-forth can continue until a U.S. immigration judge finally decides to give them the 23-page asylum application form. And the process continues…
Recent U.S. government decrees state that fleeing domestic or gang violence is not sufficient reason for seeking asylum, even when remaining will likely cause death.
Al Otro Lado’s Tijuana-based Border Rights Project provides legal orientation and know-your-rights training as well as translation services to asylum seekers in Tijuana who wish to present themselves to U.S. authorities, while also conducting human rights monitoring at the port-of-entry.
De La Cruz Santana’s research work at the border has focused on the deportee experience. Both Castillo and De La Cruz Santana are children of immigrants, and both have encountered many situations trying to help people and whole families at the border while not having ready access to needed information about available services.
The Migri Map project (migrimap.sitey.me) is intended to be a physical map and mobile app for migrants, deportees and asylum seekers in Tijuana. It will include food, shelter, health services and more. It will be in various languages starting with Spanish and English.
Yes, it’s a band-aid. That is better than just letting people bleed.
For more information and opportunities for collaboration, e-mail email@example.com. To help with this project, visit gofundme.com/f/migri-map. To find out more or to volunteer with Al Otro Lado, visit alotrolado.org. For more info on De La Cruz Santana’s work, visit humanizandoladeportacion.ucdavis.edu.
From Dinosaur Egg to Sukkat Shalom, House of Peace
It’s finally done. After four years of figuring out many new construction methods, the newest Arthur Dyson–designed Eco Shelter at the Dakota EcoGarden has become a fascinating and unique place to live. Thanks to Temple Beth Israel for the funding and for giving it such a lovely name. You might have seen the original model, painted a bright fluorescent green, at WILPF’s anniversary event at Fresno State a few years ago.
The Dakota EcoGarden, a green solution to homelessness, is supported by WILPF. Please see the Web page at ecovillagefresno.org or the Dakota EcoGarden Facebook page. We welcome visitors, volunteers and donors. We are an all-volunteer organization.
On a shoestring budget, we provide transitional housing for 12 or more otherwise homeless people, who are working on their one-year “exit plans.” Let your City Council member know that you’d like to see versions of this human solution to homelessness throughout the city.
That could be done in many different ways—in one of the large empty buildings we have so many of, or similar but without the organic garden, or underground shelters would work well for climate control. Big ideas are needed and the will to carry them out.
Raging Grannies Sing Radical Holiday Songs
Not all are biological grandmothers, but all are raging. They’ve spent the first part of their lives accumulating wisdom and experience, and as elders they are ready to share it.
After all, traditionally it has been the strong, wise, older women who advised, mediated and struggled for what was right. The Fresno Raging Grannies sing at events and protests, marches and gatherings throughout the year.
On Dec. 9, they met at the KFCF studio to record for Stir It Up–WILPF, hosted by Jean Hays, who is also the keyboard player for the Grannies. Stir It Up–WILPF airs on the fourth Wednesday of each month.
Thanks to All the Hard-Working Crafts Faire Volunteers!
Another successful WILPF Crafts Faire
Time to Renew Your WILPF Membership—Or to Join!
For information, contact Evonne Waldo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send your renewal to WILPF Fresno Branch, P.O. Box 5114, Fresno, CA 93755.
WILPF membership is $35/year. All of this goes to the national WILPF organization. Because there is no national provision for a low-income rate, many people who somehow can do so give a little extra so that we in Fresno can provide a low-income or student rate.
All money used by Fresno WILPF to help our community is raised locally, with the annual Crafts Faire and other efforts and donations.
WILPF Fresno Has Approved New Bylaws
The bylaws were recently renewed and revised as needed by the Bylaws Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Sandra Iyall, with Ann Carruthers, Nancy Hatcher, Jean Hays, Karina Lopez and Leni V. Reeves. The amended bylaws were approved at our meetings in October and December 2019 after being sent out to the WILPF listserv for review by all interested members.
Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee
Fresno WILPF Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee chair Leni Villagomez Reeves (disclosure: your editor) has recently become the co-chair of this WILPF committee at the national level. At this time, the U.S. attacks on every truly sovereign government in the Americas have increased, with increasing sanctions on Venezuela, tightening of the blockade of Cuba and instigation and support of a military coup to overthrow the elected socialist government of Bolivia.
We need to pay attention and defend the rights of people in the Americas and all over the world to choose governments that are not subservient to the United States or to corporate interests. The Cuba and Bolivarian Alliance committees of WILPF-US meet monthly by phone. If you would like to participate, e-mail email@example.com.
The WILPF page is usually compiled and edited by Leni Villagomez Reeves (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Next meeting: Thursday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N. Van Ness Ave. This meeting is open to all
STIR IT UP–WILPF ON KFCF 88.1 FM
Listener-supported free speech radio for Central California
Jan. 22, 3 p.m. (fourth Wednesday of each month). Jean Hays does outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities. Tune in to 88.1
Meets monthly. Contact Jean Hays at email@example.com
Meets monthly. Contact Ann Carruthers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meetings on selected Mondays at 7 p.m. Call Patty at 559-999-9709 for details
WOMEN IN BLACK
An international network of women committed to peace with justice. Usually meet the first Wednesday of each month at noon at the Fresno County Courthouse. Wear black, bring a sign if you wish and stand in silence for peace.
Send dues to WILPF Fresno, P.O. Box 5114, Fresno, CA 93755.
For inquiries, information and updates, contact Evonne Waldo at email@example.com.
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