Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Give for Immigrant Justice and Human Rights ...

December 2010

Dear Friends,

As a memorable 2010 comes to a close, we ask for your support of NNIRR. Giving an end-of-the year donation takes only a few minutes, and your contribution will help us to continue the fight for immigrant rights and justice. Please contribute as much as you can.

We're sure you've seen the news -- the Republicans and anti-immigrant proponents are promising to squash any proposals for genuine immigration reforms, while drumming up more anxieties through their hateful and misguided proposals like Arizona's SB 1070. Among their plans is a challenge the 14th amendment, which ensures citizenship of those born in the U.S., including the children of undocumented immigrants. And with the 2012 general election on the horizon, anti-immigrant posturing will likely storm ahead.

So we will have a lot to do -- all of us -- to stop the further deterioration of rights and continue the fight for the well-being and safety of all immigrants and their families.

Just one more request -- you can help us to celebrate the National Network's 25th anniversary in 2011 by signing on as a NNIRR sustainer on the online donation page. A regular donation,
of whatever size, every month or every three months -- will help the National Network to carry out its programs and responsibilities in what is sure to be a dynamic and challenging next year. (Want to send a check by mail? Just make payable to 'NNIRR' and mail to us at 310 8th St., Ste. 303, Oakland, CA 94607)

Click here to see highlights of NNIRR's activities in 2010, and what's on the agenda for 2011.

Thank you for your support and solidarity, and our best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful new year!


Catherine Tactaquin
Executive Director

P.S. Be sure to visit our updated website in mid-January. But go now to to check out our latest report, “Injustice for All: The Rise of the U.S. Immigration Policing Regime,” which includes documentation and stories from the field detailing the growth of the immigration enforcement system. Print copies of the report will be available soon from the website.

Monday, December 27, 2010


December 2010

Dear Friends,

We promised to DREAM, RISE and ORGANIZE this year, and as 2010 comes to a close we remember unforgettable moments symbolic of that pledge despite the onslaught of political and economic challenges.

We wanted to share the National Network’s New Year’s Resolutions with you and hope you will resolve to join the National Network sustainer program—or make your year end contribution to support our continued efforts in 2011—our 25th anniversary year!

See highlights of our activities in 2010, and what's on the agenda for 2011 by clicking here.

Even in these final weeks of 2010, NNIRR and its members are rallying to stop deportations, pushed for the final passage of the DREAM Act, and stood with colleagues around the world in solidarity with International Migrants Day, December 18!

NNIRR New Year’s Resolution #1:

Fervently defend the rights of all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality…by organizing to roll back the system of enforcement and local police collaboration that is stomping on human and civil rights. This includes the fight for legal status for all undocumented. The failure of the DREAM Act to move forward, despite public support and support from members of Congress—is another indication of how tough this battle is, as well as the absolute need to keep legalization central to our agenda!

Resolution #2:

Amplify the message, Migrant Rights are Human Rights! We’re stepping up our communications capacity, collaborating with partners and members to beat back an environment of hostility, racism and xenophobia. With this message we also connect with our colleagues around the world, and together we will continue to uplift this message and raise awareness about the “root causes” of migration and the need for global solutions.

Resolution #3:

Enhance NNIRR as a strategic space for members and allies to build relations, share information and analysis, and converge on plans and actions. We are reminded everyday of one of NNIRR’s core functions—building a diverse and strategic movement for immigrant rights--and we resolve to redouble our efforts to make this convergence happen!

… and there is one more!

Resolution #4:
Celebrate! Despite the grim political developments that have deepened the human rights crisis for immigrants and refugees here and globally, we find it even more important to celebrate our movement, our victories (big and small), our dreams and the National Network’s silver anniversary.

We hope you will join us in following through on these resolutions! We ask that one resolution YOU make is to become a NNIRR sustainer and help to honor our 25th anniversary. Or give a one-time donation—online or through the mail—as a gesture of your commitment to our common pledge.

THANK YOU for your support and solidarity! And please join us in 2011 when we will celebrate, RISE and ORGANIZE.


Catherine Tactaquin
Executive Director

P.S. We’re excited to unveil a new and improved NNIRR website in mid-January, so please remember to visit us! Go now to to check out our latest report, “Injustice for All: The Rise of the U.S. Immigration Policing Regime,” which includes documentation and stories from the field detailing the growth of the immigration enforcement system. Print copies of the report will be available at the beginning of the year.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

En español e inglés: Community Letter to Mexican Government Demanding End to Violence Against Migrants

Houston, Texas

December 22, 2010

To the authorities of the Mexican federal government

To the authorities of the Oaxaca state government

To the Mexican civil society

To the immigrant communities in the United States

To the public opinion

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to you to denounce the violence that the migrants suffer as they pass through Mexican territory and demand full respect for human rights.

Our action is in response to both the recent report of kidnapping of 50 Central American migrants in the state of Oaxaca as to the unacceptable situation of robberies, rapes, kidnappings and assassinations of both migrants as well as Mexican citizens in all of Mexican territory.

We denounce the shameful impunity enjoyed by many of the criminals and their accomplices.

We express our solidarity with our migrant brothers and sisters in their journey for a dignified life.

We also express our support for people of goodwill who risk their lives to help the migrants on their way through Mexico and to denounce those who commit abuses. We are particularly concerned about the safety of Father Alejandro Solalinde and the people who work with him at the Hermanos en Camino shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca.

For all this we demand that the Mexican government and the Oaxaca state government:

1. Investigation and resolution of the case of December 16:

What happened in Chahuites, Oaxaca? Where are the migrants who were kidnapped? What will you do for their rescue and to dismantle networks of kidnappers, including the accomplices that exist at the level of local, state and federal authorities?

2. Guarantees for the safety of the migrants who travel through Mexico, with or without papers - especially in that region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The federal government and the state governments of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz should do whatever is necessary to protect human and constitutional rights of any person found in its territory, even during transit. We demand an end to the roadblocks and the raids on trains, particularly an end to the night operations that put the migrants in conditions of extreme danger. No migration policy that can justify the creation of so many risks for the working poor who come to the United States to seek what the economic policies of their countries denied them.

3. We also urgently demand to ensure the safety of Father Alexander Solalinde and all staff and volunteers who work at the Hermanos en Camino shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca.

We know that the father and his colleagues continue to receive death threats and we hold the administration of Lic. Felipe Calderon Hinojosa responsible for their safety.

4. The root of migration is in the economic model and the lack of democracy found in our countries, from Central America through Mexico and also in the United States.

Political and economic elites concentrate power and wealth at the expense of the lives and suffering of the majority and with the indifference of the middle classes. In these days leading up to Christmas we urgently appeal to people in power to have a change of heart and to exchange greed for justice and arrogance for respect. Only if there is social peace and decent jobs in our countries will migration slow down. Militarization and repression have failed to stop migration and instead they have caused thousands of deaths and untold suffering to many families. To the criminal armed groups that have been engaged in the business of migrant kidnappings, we call upon them to recognize the humanity of those who fall into their hands, we ask that they respect their lives.

5. To the civil societies in Central America, Mexico and the United States we call upon you to organize and mobilize to put an end to much suffering and death.

Enough! We are all one people and only together can we change this situation. Together we say, on this Christmas Eve, commemorating the arrival of someone who was born among the poor and as a migrant in Bethlehem:

Not one more migrant killed!

Respect for the right to life and the right to human mobility.


Alianza Mexicana

Central American Resource Center (CRECEN)

Colectivo Flatlander

Houston Peace and Justice Center

League of United Latin American Citizens National Southwest

La Raza Justice Movement

Editors of El Pueblo Newspaper


Houston, Texas

22 de diciembre de 2010

A las autoridades del gobierno federal mexicano

A las autoridades de gobierno del estado de Oaxaca

A la sociedad civil mexicana

A las comunidades inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos

A la opinión pública

Las organizaciones abajo firmantes nos dirigimos a ustedes para denunciar la violencia que las y los migrantes sufren a su paso por el territorio mexicano y demandar el respeto pleno a sus derechos humanos.

Nuestra acción responde tanto a la reciente denuncia de secuestro de 50 migrantes centroamericanos en el estado de Oaxaca como a la inaceptable situación de robos, violaciones, secuestros y asesinatos tanto de migrantes como de ciudadanos mexicanos en todo el territorio mexicano.

Denunciamos también la vergonzosa impunidad de la que gozan muchos de los criminales y sus cómplices.

Expresamos nuestra solidaridad con los hermanos y hermanas migrantes en su peregrinar por una vida digna.

También manifestamos nuestro apoyo a las personas de buena voluntad que arriesgan su vida al ayudar a las y los migrantes en su paso por México y al denunciar a quienes cometen abusos. Nos preocupa particularmente la seguridad del Padre Alejandro Solalinde y de las personas que colaboran con él en el albergue Hermanos en Camino en Ixtepec, Oaxaca.

Por todo esto exigimos al gobierno mexicano y al gobierno del estado de Oaxaca:

1. Investigación y resolución del caso del 16 de Diciembre:

¿Qué pasó en Chahuites, Oaxaca? ¿En dónde están los migrantes secuestrados? ¿Qué se va a hacer para su rescate y para el desmantelamiento de las redes de secuestradores, incluyendo a los cómplices que existan a nivel de autoridades locales, estatales y federales?

2. Garantías para la seguridad de las y los migrantes que viajan por México, con o sin papeles. Especialmente en esa región del Istmo de Tehuantepec.

El gobierno federal y el gobierno de los estados de Chiapas, Oaxaca y Veracruz deben hacer lo que sea necesario para proteger los derechos humanos y constitucionales de cualquier persona que se encuentre en su territorio, aunque sea en tránsito. Pedimos un alto a los retenes en las carreteras y alto a las redadas en los trenes, especialmente alto a los operativos nocturnos que ponen a los y las migrantes en condiciones de peligro extremo. No hay política migratoria que justifique crear tantos riesgos para trabajadores pobres que vienen a los Estados Unidos a buscar lo que la política económica de sus países les negó.

3. Demandamos con urgencia que se garantice también la seguridad del Padre Alejandro Solalinde y de todo el personal y voluntarios/as que colaboran en el Albergue Hermanos en Camino, en Ixtepec Oaxaca.

Sabemos que el padre y sus colaboradores continúan recibiendo amenazas de muerte y hacemos responsable de su seguridad a la administración del Lic. Felipe Calderón Hinojosa.

4. La raíz de la migración está en el modelo económico y en la falta de democracia en nuestros países, desde Centroamérica, pasando por México y también en los Estados Unidos.

Élites políticas y económicas concentran el poder y la riqueza a costa del sufrimiento y la vida de la mayoría y ante la indiferencia de las clases medias. En estos días cercanos a la Navidad hacemos un llamado urgente a que las personas en el poder revisen su corazón y cambien la avaricia por la justicia y la arrogancia por el respeto. Sólo si hay paz social y trabajos dignos en nuestros países disminuirá la migración. La militarización y represión no han servido para detenerla y si para causar miles de muertes y sufrimiento incalculable a tantas familias. A los grupos armados de delincuentes que se han dedicado al negocio del secuestro de migrantes les hacemos un llamado a que reconozcan la humanidad de quienes caen en sus manos, les pedimos que respeten sus vidas.

5. A la sociedad civil en Centro América, México y los Estados Unidos le hacemos un llamado para organizarse y movilizarse para poner un alto a tanto sufrimiento y muerte.

¡Ya basta! Todos y todas somos un mismo pueblo y sólo unidos podemos cambiar esta situación. Juntos decimos, en esta víspera de Navidad, conmemorando la llegada de alguien que nació entre los pobres y como migrante en Belén:

¡Ni un migrante muerto más!

Respeto al derecho a la vida y al derecho a la movilidad humana.


Alianza Mexicana


Colectivo Flatlander

Houston Peace and Justice Center

League of United Latin American Citizens National Southwest

La Raza Justice Movement

Editors of El Pueblo Newspaper

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Human rights approach long overdue on immigration|Ya es hora para los derechos humanos en la inmigración

English version follows:

No Human being is illegal
Time to ask tough questions on immigration

Ningún Ser Humano es Ilegal
La criminalización de la i

Por Myrna Martínez Nateras

FRESNO, California -- "Si yo hubiera tenido la opción de no emigrar hubiese preferido quedarme en mi pueblo, al lado de mis padres", dijo Rosa, una campesina originaria del sur de México y residente del área de Fresno, en California. "Igual que muchos otros jóvenes de mi pueblo, ni bien estamos en edad salimos en busca de trabajo; primero a los estados del norte de México y después, algunos de nosotras, seguimos a los campos de California".

Este es uno de los tantos testimonios que escucho permanentemente de inmigrantes residentes del Valle [Central de California] como parte de mis responsabilidades al frente de los programas de Migración y Movilidad Humana del Comité de Servicios de los Amigos Americanos (AFSC) en esta zona.

Y nos dicen que migrar no es una elección, es una necesidad.

Migrar para trabajar, sea dentro o fuera de los límites de un país, es parte de una situación socioeconómica que prevalece desde hace siglos y que provee mano de obra barata, algo imprescindible para el desarrollo económico de ciertas áreas. Este fenómeno es común en muchos paises y ha sido ampliamente estudiado.

En el Valle Central de California la industria agrícola ha dependido, desde sus inicios, de mano de obra barata ­de inmigrantes legales o no. La legislación referente al empleo de esta mano de obra ha sido determinada por intereses políticos y económicos.

No hay que olvidar que en este país, precisamente, el gran desarrollo económico fue impulsado por inmigrantes chinos, irlandeses, armenios, filipinos, italianos, mexicanos y muchos más, que contribuyeron también a la formación de ciudades, fortunas individuales y lujos del cual no disponen.

Es decir: si se quiere buscar soluciones al tema de la inmigración, no podemos limitarnos solamente a cuestiones legislativas.

A los trabajadores inmigrantes siempre se les adjudicaron etiquetas despreciativas. Hasta los años 80 del siglo pasado se les llamaba "wetbacks". Hoy predomina el término "ilegales".

Si catalogamos a los trabajadores de ilegales ¿por qué entonces no se utiliza el termino "empleadores ilegales" para quienes los contratan? Esta es una prueba obvia de la discriminación anti-inmigrante.

La insistencia en usar el termino "ilegal" bajo la justificación de "llamar las cosas por su nombre" o "porque entraron ilegalmente al país" no ha logrado más que deshumanizar a los inmigrantes, poniéndolos en categoría de criminales y violadores intencionales de la ley.

El uso constante de la palabra "ilegal" por parte de algunos medios de comunicación, instituciones que abogan por una inmigración limitada y políticos que responden a los sectores más conservadores, al referirse a los inmigrantes sin papeles, no ha logrado más que reforzar la percepción negativa de éstos, agudizar el sentimiento anti-inmigrante, aumentar las tensiones sociales y dividir comunidades que parecen cada día más lejos de llegar a un acuerdo.

Esta polarización política ha paralizado la reparación legislativa de la migración, prolongando aún más sus problemas. Poner a los trabajadores inmigrantes y sus familias en la categoría de ilegales solamente ha contribuido a la justificación de la violación y negación de sus derechos humanos y laborales más básicos, como salud o educación. En resumen, es una justificación para su marginación social y cultural.

Bajo la excusa de esta "ilegalidad" observamos una complacencia social que justifica la creación de leyes y sistemas de aplicación de las mismas con consecuencias devastadores no solamente para las familias de los inmigrantes sino para comunidades enteras.

Y digamos, además, que enfocarse en este aspecto ayuda a distraer la atención de las razones de la migración (la economía que necesita de esta mano de obra) y mantiene comportamientos discriminatorios y racistas contra estos trabajadores.

Repetidamente se menciona que estos trabajadores son quienes cosechan las frutas y verduras que llegan a nuestras mesas, limpian nuestras casas y cuidan a nuestros niños. Estos inmigrantes son esto y mucho más: son seres humanos que aspiran a tener una voz política, personas que están enriqueciendo la cultura de nuestras comunidades, que se educan ­muchos hablan dos o tres idiomas­ conocen su oficio y tienen una sólida ética laboral.

Las únicas variables en el debate sobre la migración son: la leyes, el sentimiento vigente en la opinión publica y el discurso político. Y las constantes son: las condiciones y demandas económicas que atraen esa mano de obra inmigrante.

Históricamente, la inmigración a Estados Unidos se ha regido por leyes; éstas a su vez han cambiado de acuerdo con las reglas económicas del momento y los intereses temporales. Un ejemplo es el llamado Programa Bracero (1946-1964): se lo aprobó rápidamente para traer trabajadores mexicanos cuando se los necesitaba desesperadamente, en la posguerra, y cuando se terminó esa demanda, se canceló el programa.

Los legisladores conocen el funcionamiento y los intereses del sistema del que son parte. Negar una reforma migratoria significa reconocer no solo el nivel de contradicciones e intereses encontrados en el poder, sino también la incapacidad de superarlos: queremos el trabajo de los inmigrantes pero no queremos que se queden aquí ni que se reproduzcan y mucho menos que tengan poder politico y sindical. No queremos que sean "legales" porque entonces ya no trabajarán en los empleos más sucios y peor pagados.

Pero la situación actual es insostenible. El fenómeno de la migración requiere urgentemente buscar soluciones más permanentes que no se darán solamente con cambios legales y vaivenes políticos. Es tiempo ya de abordar este fenómeno desde un lente económico y de derechos humanos.

No Human being is illegal

Time to ask tough questions on immigration

By Myrna Martínez Nateras

FRESNO, CA-- "Had I been given a choice I would not have migrated to the United States," Rosa, a farm worker who hails from southern Mexico said to me, "As soon as I was able to do so I left in search of work; first in Mexico¹s northern states, then I continued north, following the crops, to toil in the California's fields."

Rosa's story is painfully repeated to me time and time again by immigrants who, like her now call the Valley home.

From its beginnings the Central Valley's agricultural industry has relied on easily exploitable labor, documented or not. Also from its beginnings these workers have been demonized in language designed to hide their enormous value to the industry and to our communities. What's happening today is no different ­ despite the growing demand for immigrants¹ services.

There¹s no clearer example of dehumanizing immigrants than the mainstreaming of the term illegal to describe workers like Rosa.

Immigrants tell me all the time that they do not leave their countries by choice, that they were forced to migrate, even if it meant circumventing current immigration laws. The human instinct to survive and economic factors are more powerful than immigration laws.

But in the day and age of instant news, we prefer catch words that simplify complex social issues, even if this means negating the perspective of those most impacted by our policies.

Under the pretext of the illegality of our friends and neighbors, laws and policies that persecute workers, separate families and devastate entire communities are implemented by government officials and applauded by a growing sector of our society.

The name-calling has all but delayed legislative action on immigration, prolonging the multiple concerns surrounding the debate and has led us down the path of a near irreconcilable polarization. But the cost has been even larger for immigrant workers and their families; they have been subjected to the point of dehumanization where their basic human rights are negated under the guise of their illegal status.

At best immigrant workers in our country are acknowledged for their back-breaking work. It's repeatedly mentioned that immigrants pick the fruits and vegetables we eat, clean our homes and take care of our children.

Immigrants are more than the work they do: they are human beings, they also struggle to have a political voice, they enrich the culture of our communities, they worry about their children's future, they excel in education‹many speak two or three languages--, they have a solid moral and work ethic.

It's absolutely true, immigration is regulated by laws, but laws have changed in order to respond to the economic rules of the moment. Just one example is the Bracero Program (1946-1964): it was fast-tracked when Mexican laborers were desperately needed and cancelled as soon as the demand for workers had declined.

Laws are not meant to last forever, they change in response to immediate needs. Law makers understand their role in ensuring that our society is not bogged down by obsolete and unjust laws. But lawmakers are standing in the way overhauling our immigration policies and that clearly points to the entrenched contradictions in our political system and our unwillingness to overcome them. We want immigrant labor but we don't want them here, we don't want their children and most certainly we don't want them to obtain political power. We want to keep them illegal, because by doing so we will keep them in the same low paying and unbearable jobs. We want immigrants to remain the perpetual them.

Our current situation is unsustainable. The immigration issue requires us to jointly find permanent and sustainable solutions that do not only respond to the shifting political winds and are not stuck on labels.

I often get asked what part of illegal I don't understand, answering the question will almost always mean ending up in a circular debate.

The question we should be asking is when will we start to understand each other. Let's start by upholding the worth and dignity of all people. The time to approach the immigration issue from a human rights framework is long over due.

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