Friday, August 27, 2010

Who's Responsible for the Massacre of Migrants?

Placing the massacre at the feet of U.S. Immigration Control and Trade Policies

Migrant workers continue paying a heavy price as a result of the volatile mixture of the U.S. militarization of immigration control and border communities, the criminalization of migration, the expansion of NAFTA or “free” trade under the “Merida Initiative,” a war on drugs and national security.

On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, devastating news reports began trickling out about a horrific massacre of some 72 international migrants that took place in Mexico. Armed members of a drug cartel had kidnapped these Central and South America migrants. The cartel gunmen were trying to extort ransom money from them to let them continue on their dangerous journey to the U.S. with the hope of reuniting with their families and seek work to survive.

The drug traffickers had tied the migrants’ hands behind their backs and then executed them by shooting them in the back. One migrant who survived the execution, although gravely wounded, dragged himself miles when he stumbled upon a military checkpoint on a highway and alerted them. Some 200 soldiers were mobilized and went to the farmhouse where a heavy gun battle ensued, leaving one soldier and three drug cartel gunmen dead. Then the soldiers made the grisly discovery of the migrants’ bodies, 58 men and 14 women—migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Brazil—who been slaughtered inside a farmhouse close to San Fernando, a small farming community in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas and about a 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.

Epidemic of Abuse and Exploitation of Migrants

The Mexican government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reports that more than 10,000 migrant kidnappings have been reported in the first six months of 2010 in Mexico. Yet, the CNDH and the Mexican government have not worked to effectively protect migrants, expose the abuses and prosecute the traffickers and their collaborators in the police, military and other government entities.

Drug traffickers and smugglers, as well as police and military, often hold migrants hostage and force them to pay high ransoms before they are allowed to continue usually on the last leg of their journey to the U.S. The CNDH said that in the first half of 2009, when only some 9,000 migrant kidnapping cases had been reported, corrupt government officials and police, organized crime, traffickers and other criminals extorted as much as $25 million dollars from kidnapped migrants.

When migrants make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, they fare no better. The U.S. deliberately funnels migrants into the deserts and mountains of Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Texas. Here at the border they are subjected to another layer of abuse. They are thrown into the hands of smugglers and other traffickers who have no second thoughts about abandoning individuals, who are often injured or suffering severe exhaustion, in the wilds, where migrants face a certain death either by extremes of heat or cold.

What rights and protections for migrant workers?

As a result of criminalization and few if any options to regularize their status or migrate with rights, U.S. and international migration control policies make migrant workers easy targets for exploitation and criminal attacks and extortion, where they live and work or whether in they are in transit or in the U.S.

Although Mexico is a signatory to the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,” the Mexican government’s de facto policies and treatment of migrants is a bloodied mark on the convention. The U.S. is not a signatory to the migrant workers’ human rights convention. U.S. immigration enforcement and services, bound up to the U.S. politics of national security, are rife with abuses and human rights violations.

Mexican and U.S. policies, collusion through inaction, and their own impunity have created a situation where thousands of migrants are being subjected to extremes of abuse. The massacre of migrants in Mexico shows that drug traffickers have “diversified” their wares to include humans. They act with impunity, either as a result of official corruption or collusion that turns a blind eye to the exploitation, and results in the unfortunate death of migrants “funneled” by U.S. policies through the deadly desert and mountainous areas of the border.

Migrants who survive the journey only slightly fare better. Once out of the clutches of traffickers and smugglers they face a gauntlet of unscrupulous police, elected officials and employers who prey upon them. Or they are further criminalized and are hunted down, filling the dungeons of prisons, euphemistically called “detention centers.”

What is to be done?

What is to be done? Certainly, we should call for the investigation and prosecution all the abusers and those in government who collaborated in this heinous crime. But even this will not be enough. To prevent further abuses will take historic efforts on our and the immigrant rights and justice movements’ part. It will mean organizing to make the U.S. and Mexican governments decriminalize migration and demilitarize immigration control and border communities. These demands also have to expose the root causes and push back on economic and trade policies that undermine communities and forcibly displace workers and divide families.

For now we ask everyone to take a minute to reflect on this horrendous massacre of innocents and to respect those migrants among us who have survived this odyssey – just to be with their families, to work and support their families and communities back home.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Arizona Machine: Reflection on Tucson Kidnapping

By Raúl al-qaraz Ochoa

It's true. Life in pre-BS 1070 Arizona is the same as post-BS 1070 Arizona.

I saw the video of yesterday's kidnapping where young people in the south side of Tucson were forcefully separated from their dad and mom, they were taken away by Border Patrol.

Watching this violent assault on youtube got me sick. My stomach turned into a clenched fist. The blood circulating throughout my body probably stopped flowing for a bit and it turned into boiling lava erupting from my sad and outraged heart. and all i could do was cry, cry like a baby... for those children, for that family, for my family, por mi tia, por las mamas y papas de Tucson con los que organizo, por l@s jovenes que estan tan dentro de mi corazon y rezos. Por todas ellas y ellos, y los millones que no conozco.

Almost reaching 400,000 deportations (250,000 of those being 'non-criminal'), the Obama administration is on course to deport more people than any other president in u.s. history. His administration is following a disturbing government plan titled "Operation Endgame", which outlined since 2003 their goal of deporting all "removable illegal aliens by the year 2012". This kidnapping does not represent an accident in the system, it is an intentional part of the larger plan.

The video made me feel disempowered. so overwhelmed. Imagine how it can destroy a mother and her children. It's a trauma that never goes away. This nightmare is all too familiar to me and my family. Rage is too little of a word to describe my body's reaction. In fact, there are no words in the english or spanish languages that can express the tremendous sense of indignation that not only shatters my every bone, it also shatters my spirit and essence as a human being in this community.

I wonder... when are we going to end powerlessness in the face of such a monstorous system? We're up against law enforcement agents that operate under an evil state apparatus. Despite a court decision to temporarily block the "papers please" part of BS 1070, it still happens. and it will continue to happen with or without BS 1070. Clearly, if we are ever to achieve meaningful change, this oppressive machine must be entirely and completely dismantled. No court decisions, no laws or lawsuits, no elections and no public policies will ever be enough. Think of this unsuspecting family's struggle in the larger context of white supremacy, colonization, capitalism, war and empire.

There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
(Mario Savio of the student movement of the 1960's)

This quote rings true right now.

Mothers are being kidnapped. Fathers are being taken away on their way to work. And money is being made from their detention. CCA (Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison corporation) has infiltrated the corrupt AZ government forces and helped push for BS 1070 to pass! Deaths at the u.s.-mexico border continue to increase year after year after year as the national machine apparatus is scheduled to pour $600 million for even more border militarization!

Does this apparatus smell rotten to you? Does it make you sick at heart? Can you passively stand by as this is taking place on your clock, in your community? How would it look like for us to put our bodies upon the gears and wheels of this machine? What will it take to interrupt and completely shut down this machine? Somehow, somewhere, someday this empire machine will be taken down. It's only a matter of perseverence and time.

I have hope. I have faith. I will continue to organize... for this machine to fall. I will continue to pray... for all of us--past, present and future.

IRN Note: Raúl al-qaraz Ochoa's "The Arizona Machine: Reflction on Tucson Kidnapping" was originally published at

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama and Congress increase border militarization, ensuring more migrant deaths and rights abuses

NNIRR on "The Southwest Border Security Bill"

(Oakland, CA: Aug. 13, 2010) Earlier today President Obama signed a new bill authorizing an additional $600 million to increase border security, strengthening a deadly border militarization strategy. Tragically, this move will surely increase the number of migrants who perish at the U.S.-Mexico border and the bill contributes nothing to ensuring the safety and rights of migrants and border communities. The U.S. border security strategy forces migrants to cross through the deadly desert region, deliberately sending hundreds to their death every year.

The new bill promises to enhance controversial immigration-police collaboration and places more military technology, including surveillance drones, on the border. An additional 1,000 Border Patrol officers, 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and 250 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will be hired. These increments do not include Obama's recent announcement of the deployment of another 1200 National Guard troops to patrol the border in Arizona.

The Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (CDH), based in Tucson, AZ, reports that the remains of 214 migrants have been recovered as of July 31, 2010, on the Arizona stretch of the border alone, more than was recorded last year. Two months remain in this fiscal year before the final tally of migrant deaths is complete.

As many as 8,000 migrant dead have been recovered on the U.S.-Mexico border since the U.S. government's current "prevention through deterrence" strategy was implemented in 1994. Human rights groups working to prevent migrant deaths and abuses on the border believe that for every migrant dead found at least ten others are missing in the desert.

Along with a record number of migrant deaths at the border, the U.S. under the Obama Administration is achieving a record number of deportations this fiscal year. The "Southwest Border Security Bill" is a reminder of what type of “CIR,” or immigration reform, is being offered: A piece-meal enforcement approach that continues gutting the rights of immigrants, with more jailings and deportations and promises of restrictive access to "legalization" and guest worker programs.

Demilitarize, Decriminalize: End Border Deaths

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) is greatly disturbed by the Administration's determination to deepen the flawed and fatal militarization of immigration control and border communities, further fueling the criminalization of immigration status.

The U.S. must end the deliberate "funneling" of migrants through the border desert, stopping the death of migrants and the criminalization of status. Instead, the U.S. must increase access to legal immigration with the protection of rights, provide more options for permanent residency and citizenship and create routine programs of legalization. But this will not be enough if the root causes are not addressed. Fair and just immigration reforms must be accompanied with fair and just trade policies and initiatives. By taking such measures and steps, the Obama Administration can make immigrant families, workers and communities less vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and create safer environments and strengthen everyone's rights.


Arnoldo Garcia (510) 465-1984 ext. 305

Catherine Tactaquin (510) 465-1984 ext. 302

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 06, 2010

Youth wins stay of deportation, DREAM stays strong

Now, let’s continue pressing Pres. Obama and Congress to suspend all detentions & deportations and investigate the abuses

NNIRR thanks her members, partners, allies and friends who made calls and/or signed the petition to support Marlen Moreno-Peralta’s now successful bid to stop the Department of Homeland Security from deporting her. Marlen Moreno-Peralta is a DREAM-eligible community member in Tucson, Arizona. Her deportation was stayed as a result of DREAM-led efforts. We believe that today she is more determined than ever to fight for justice – for her family and her community. This is a significant victory for Ms. Moreno-Peralta and her family. This is also a sign of hope that only vigorous community-based organizing and solidarity can prevent an injustice from taking place.

Marlen’s situation, unfortunately, is not unique. Thousands of members of our communities, both documented and undocumented, are languishing either in immigrant jails awaiting deportation or are being deported as you read this update. Hundreds of thousands have already been deported. ICE tears families apart, disappears co-workers and neighbors and U.S.inhumane immigration laws and system continue shredding our rights.

The overwhelming majority of those in ICE deportation proceedings have had their rights violated where they lived and worked. Their rights are also violated and abused in the legal process, where ICE and other immigration enforcement officials coerce immigrants into signing away their rights, deny or have inadequate legal representation and/or jail and deport them with impunity for the smallest of offenses.

Since President Obama was elected to the U.S. Presidency, NNIRR has been calling on his administration to suspend all detentions and deportations, end all immigration-police collaboration programs, demilitarize immigration control and border communities. But this is not enough. The U.S. must also address the root causes of international migration by creating fair trade policies abroad and socially just economic development in the U.S. that promote sustainable communities, strengthens labor and civil rights protections. Fair and just immigration reforms are impossible without fair and just trade policies.

Click here to read the letter to Obama.

The struggle of DREAM youth and student activists and leaders, their courageous civil disobedience and organizing, has been inspiring. The rising movement against immigration-police collaboration, the national civil resistance being lead by the Puente Movement in Phoenix against SB1070, and the DREAMers’ demand for rights and legalization raise critical issues of how to stop the U.S. government humanitarian crisis now being imposed upon immigrant communities and people of color.

The U.S. federal government has created laws, policies, measures and practices that are fueling immigration policing in almost every social sphere of the country. Immigration checkpoints, usually associated with the border region, are cropping up everywhere. “Checkpoints” are being used by schools, landlords, employers, public and private social services, banks, stores, and others who feel empowered to ask a person for their papers to receive services or – in some cases – to turn them over to the police or ICE. U.S. immigration enforcement is fomenting xenophobia and racist violence, too.

NNIRR’s strategy of working to link our communities from the border to the interior has become more salient with the deepening U.S. militarization of immigration control and border communities and the extension of immigration policing. Why? Communities everywhere are facing the same immigration-police onslaught. U.S. federal immigration-police collaboration programs and border security spawned SB1070, Arizona’s anti-immigrant, racial profiling law. Other states are already excluding immigrants from services and as many as twenty states are considering copycat laws. Anti-immigrant hate is much easier to legalize and codify where the federal and state governments are implementing polices, laws, practices and measures that criminalize status and use outlawed forms of racial discrimination.

The U.S. federal immigration-police collaboration programs are no better than its offspring, SB1070. SB1070 and Arizona police may be the most notorious version of police collaboration that unabashedly uses racial, ethnic/nationality and religious profiling. But the federal programs, 287(g) and “Secure Communities,” are using the same methods and producing the same results: Immigration-policing destabilizes communities; people live in fear and anyone who is perceived to be or is an immigrant is more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Stopping Marlen Moreno-Peralta’s deportation, at least temporarily, gives her and her family a brief respite. Our communities also won a small breathing space that we can use to continue envisioning how we demand and get the U.S. to suspend all detentions and deportations and stop the abuses and restore our rights.

If we can stop one deportation, we can eventually get the Obama Administration to suspend all detentions and deportations. Why? The DREAMERs and our communities continue rising up; they are keeping the fires of resistance blazing. Anything is possible when you dream in community.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Justice & Human Rights for All: Stop the deportation of Marlen Moreno-Peralta

Three days left for Aspiring Teacher and Mother of Two, Marlen Moreno-Peralta

Supporters to Announce Next Steps and Where the Case Stands

Contact: Rigo Padilla, (773) 614-9668

Tucson, Arizona. On August 5th, Marlen Moreno and supporters will gather to announce where her case stands after an outpouring of community support that has drawn the attention of local and national media. Her supporters will also discuss the next steps they will be taking to ensure that Marlen will not be separated from her husband, her sons, and her dream of going to college and becoming a teacher.

To this date, support to stop the deportation of Marlen Moreno has come from over 40 organizations nationwide and includes America's Voice, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, No More Deaths, American Immigration Lawyers Association, National Council of La Raza, Center for Community Change and diverse organizations across the state of Arizona.

WHEN: Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: El Tiradito Shrine, 420 S Main Ave; Tucson, Arizona

WHO: Marlen Moreno, Arizona DREAMer facing deportation; Margo Cowan, Marlen's attorney; Tucson youth and community leaders.


ACT NOW!! to stop Marlen Moreno's Deportation this Sunday, August 8!!

We ask that all friends and allies help spread the word about Marlen's situation-- please distribute widely!!

ACT NOW!! to stop Marlen Moreno's Deportation this Sunday!!

* Call Secretary Napolitano, and tell her to stop Marlen's deportation:
(202) 282-8495

* Call Assistant Secretary John Morton and tell him to stop Marlen's deportation:
(202) 732.3000

YOU SHOULD SAY: "I am calling to leave a message of support for Marlen Moreno who is being deported on August 8th. Marlen is eligible for the DREAM Act when it passes and should not be deported. I ask that Secretary Napolitano and/or Assistant Director Morton please step in to defer her deportation, she is an asset to this country. Thank you."




Check out the FaceBook page:

Marlen's entire story is here:

Also, you can:

1. Call Rep. Grijalva (202-225-2435) and ask that he introduce a private bill on behalf of Marlen. Ask that he contact DHS and ICE immediately urging them to stop Marlen's deportation.

2. Call Rep. Gutierrez (202-225-8203) and ask that he also introduce a private bill on behalf of Marlen. Ask that he contact DHS and ICE immediately urging them to stop Marlen's deportation.

Script for speaking to member of Congress:

"Hi, my name is ____. I am calling about Marlen Moreno. She is a bright and talented DREAMer from Arizona. She is married to a legal resident and has two U.S. citizen children, but yet still faces an August 8th deportation. I am calling to ask that the representative step up to the plate and introduce a private bill for Marlen, in addition to directly contacting John Morton and Janet Napolitano, urging the both of them to immediately halt Marlen's deportation. Please do not allow for Marlen to be deported! Thank you."


Marlen Moreno, 26-year old DREAMer is set to be deported on August 8th - this next Sunday!

Marlen is DREAM Act-eligible, is the mother of two US citizen sons and the wife of a Lawful Permanent Resident. Please follow the instructions below and act now to help keep Marlen in the United States . Please join us for a Press Conference tomorrow, 8/3, at noon at Southside Presbyterian Church to call on Secretary Napolitano to terminate Marlen's deportation proceedings.

Arizona- On Sunday, August 8th, less than a week from today, Marlen Moreno will no longer be in this country. She is a wife, married to a legal permanent resident, and a mother to two wonderful U.S. citizen children, Freddy Alan who is 3 and Leobardo, Jr. who is just 10-months old.

Marlen was brought to the United States when she was only thirteen years old. She has been living in Tucson, Arizona for over thirteen years and, like many DREAMers, considers this country her home. Since the start, her parents told her to value her education and, through hard work, she was the first person in her family to graduate from high school. Marlen aspires to become a pre-school teacher because she believes education is the key to success.

In 2008, as she slept with her 8-month old son in her hands, ICE showed up at her house to detain her. She would spend the next four months in jail and detention all because she needed to work to provide for her family. She now faces deportation from the only country she knows. Worst of all, she faces separation from her husband, a legal resident, and her two sons, both American citizens.

This action alert was provided by Coalicion de Derechos Humanos; Tucson, Arizona.

Labels: , , , , , ,