Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why We Walk

Reflections on the Migrant Trail

By Kathryn Rodríguez

I just returned from the 8th Annual Migrant Trail, a 75-mile walk from Sásabe, Sonora to Tucson, Arizona. The purpose of the Walk is to bear witness to the loss of life, the deaths of thousands of women, men and children on the US-México border by walking through the corridor where most human remains are recovered. Derechos Humanos has sponsored the Migrant Trail since the beginning, and I have been honored to walk every year.

Eight years ago, when a friend came to our weekly Derechos Humanos meeting with the idea for the Walk, I signed up to be part of the organizing committee. That first year, there were about thirty of us, and many of us had spent years working on the border.

Many of us have friends that have crossed the border here in Arizona, and some of us have known people who have died as a result. The idea of being in that space, of physically being present in an intentional way, was highly appealing to me.

It would be impossible for anyone who has never been a migrant to be able to understand what walking that trail feels. Besides the incredible amount of support that we have— water whenever we want it, support vehicles to carry our gear and anyone struggling to keep up, bandages and blister kits, and allies bringing meals out to us— we have the assurance that we will arrive safely.

[Primal Fear of Police]

Even stripping all of that from us, we exist free of the primal fear that I have seen in countless migrants. I once sat in a car with a woman so terrified that the smell of fear rolled off of her in long, powerful waves, and I finally understood what is meant when they say that animals can smell fear. I’ve talked to countless people who call to report a loved one missing, hearing fear lace every word they speak as they describe clothing and hair and eyes and teeth, hearing them desperately trying not to voice the fear that death will be the answer they are given.

Fear of law enforcement is something that is, for the most part, foreign to U.S. citizens — many of us assume that law enforcement is there to help us, and do not make conscious efforts to avoid any sort of detection or attention. I have learned, in my time at Derechos Humanos, the incredible lengths to which people must go to in order to live their lives. My privilege shames me when I think about this other reality, this sub-existence that we have carved out for the people that we so hypocritically depend on in this nation. I try to think about these things as we walk twelve to sixteen miles each day on the Walk.

There is something very cleansing about physical movement. The repetition of your heel, toe, heel, toe on the ground, and how that moves upward through your body. Many of us carry crosses bearing the names of individuals who have lost their lives on the Arizona border, and I try to think about how I can do justice to the ones I seek to honor. This year I walked with Alfonso Hernandez Ramirez, age 50, and Miguel Angel Rodriguez Ortiz, age 4. I thought about these two—a man in the prime of his life, most likely with a wife and children at home, and a little boy who would never have those things because he was never allowed to grow up.

[Migrants Dying on Border Are Not First Time Crossers]

I think about the fact that some of the migrants who die on the border are not first-time crossers who have traveled up from the south of México, but people who have been living for years in Phoenix or Chicago or Atlanta. Many view Arpaio’s crackdown on the immigrant communities as an unjust deportation, but it can also be a death sentence for those who struggle to return. Perhaps the officer who calls Border Patrol does not see it this way, but this is the reality. When a woman or man has lived here for fourteen years, gotten married, had children, bought a home or business and is then suddenly deported, where do we think they will go? Of course they will cross the border. Of course they will try to get home.

More and more of the stories I hear of relatives reporting loved ones missing are people who have created lives for themselves in this country, people who have become part of our communities.

We cannot forget, in denouncing the deaths on the border, to denounce the policies that send them to that unforgiving desert. Trade policies that have displaced agriculturally based workers from mostly Indigenous communities must be ended.

The militarization of the border must be halted, and the border wall removed. Deportations must no longer be permitted to tear families apart. Racial profiling and collaboration with Border Patrol must not be permitted, not just because it is unjust and unfair and racist, but because people are dying as a result.

After the first year of the Walk, we discussed doing it for a second year. It was a long, intentional discussion, and in the end we decided that we would only do it a second year if we were willing to commit to walking every year until the deaths stop.

To date, I have walked 600 miles to honor that promise. With every step we take, I hope that the hearts and minds of those who have turned hard hearts toward our migrant and immigrant sisters and brothers can be softened toward compassion and love, and I pray for the day that there are no deaths to denounce, no injustice to right, and for the day that we end the Migrant Trail.

Kathryn Rodríguez is the Program Director of Coalición de Derechos Humanos, based in Tucson, AZ.

These photographs were taken by Arnoldo García at the start of the 2010 Migrant Trail Walk.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Calling all recipes!

Para leer este mensaje en español, haga clic aquí

Submit your favorite recipe for NNIRR's 25th Anniversary Commemorative Cookbook this week!

June 29, 2011

Dear Members and Friends:

We hope you will take part in our 25th Anniversary commemorative cookbook: twenty-five featured recipes reflecting twenty-five years of work together for human and civil rights.

The recipe deadline is upon us, so PLEASE send us yours today!!

Don't miss this opportunity to showcase your organization and community in a nationally distributed publication.

Don't put it off any longer! All it takes is a few minutes to send us:

  • A recipe

  • A short story about its role in your community (one simple paragraph will suffice).

  • A photo of the dish or your community eating together (if you don't have one readily available you should be able to find a photo of the dish online!)

To SUBMIT RECIPES or for MORE INFORMATION: or tel. 415.307.0232


Click here to download the recipe submission form.

We look forward to your participation in this exciting project!!

Catherine Tactaquin
NNIRR Executive Director

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

310 8th St. Ste. 303 | Oakland, CA 94607 l tel: 510.465.1984 | fax: 510.465.1885 |

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Monday, June 27, 2011

ACCIÓN URGENTE: Secuetro masivo de migrantes en Mexico

by Judith Arteaga on Monday, June 27, 2011 at 2:59pm

El 24 de junio se produjo un secuestro masivo de migrantes irregulares que viajaban en un tren de mercancías entre los estados de Oaxaca y Veracruz en México. Se desconoce el paradero de muchos de los hombres, mujeres y niños que viajan en el tren. Sus vidas corren peligro.

El 24 de junio, un tren de mercancías, en cuyo techo viajaban 200 migrantes irregulares dejó la ciudad de Ixtepec en el estado de Oaxaca, rumbo a Medias Aguas, en el estado de Veracruz. Muchos de los migrantes que viajaban en el tren habían estado en el refugio para migrantes “Hermanos en el Camino”, dirigido por el Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, defensor de los derechos de los migrantes, antes de partir hacia Veracruz en su ruta hacia la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México. En el tren viajaban varios niños.

Según testigos presenciales, cuando el tren se aproximaba a Medias Aguas, el conductor lo detuvo en una zona aislada dónde se encontraban estacionadas 3 camionetas. Cuando el tren se paró por completo, al menos 10 hombres armados salieron de los vehículos y comenzaron a hostigar a los migrantes gritando “bájense hijos de su puta madre, bájense rápido y súbanse a las camionetas”. Algunos de los migrantes lograron escapar, pero muchos fueron introducidos a punta de pistola en los vehículos y se los llevaron.

Algunos de los testigos del secuestro que lograron escapar, regresaron al albergue “Hermanos en el Camino” tras el ataque. Según estos testigos, entre los secuestrados hay mujeres y niños. Algunos de los testigos denunciaron el secuestro ante las autoridades.

POR FAVOR, ESCRIBE INMEDIATAMENTE en español o en tu propia lengua:

- Instando a las autoridades a investigar inmediatamente el secuestro en masa de mgirantes irregulars, averiguando su paradero y asegurando su seguridad y llevando a los responsables ante la justicia, incluyendo cualquier funcionario público que actúe en complicidad con los grupos criminales;

- Pide a las autoridades que proporcionen a los migrantes testigos del secuestro medidas de seguridad y visados temporales, para que puedan testificar contra los responsables sin temor a represalias o a ser deportados.

- Pide al Secretario de Gobernación que lidere la implementación de un plan de acción para proteger los derechos de los migrantes en tránsito, incluyendo la investigación efectiva y la persecución de los responsables de estos abusos, la protección de los migrantes que se encuentran en riesgo y la recopilación y publicación a nivel nacional de datos sobre los abusos sufridos por migrantes.


Lic. José Francisco Blake Mora

Secretario de Gobernación

Bucareli 99, 1er. Piso, Col. Juárez

Delegación Cuauhtemoc

México DF, CP 06600

Fax: +52 55 50933414 (extensión 32356)

Saludo: Estimado Secretario

Marisela Morales Ibañez

Procuradora General de Justicia de la República,

Av. Paseo de la reforma 211 – 213, Col. Cuauhtemoc, Del. Cuauhtémoc, México D.F., México

Fax: +52 555 346 0908 (keep trying)


Saludo: Estimada Procuradora General

Lic. Javier Duarte de Ochoa

Gobernador de Veracruz

Palacio de Gobierno

Av. Enriquez S/N, Col Centro,

CP 91000, Xalapa,

Veracruz, Mexico.


Envíen también copias a las representaciones diplomáticas de México en su país. Confirme con la officende la Sección de Amnistía Internacional de su país si va a enviar peticiones después de la fecha indicada.



Cada año, cientos de miles de migrantes irregulares (que no cuentan con documentos oficiales de viaje) procedentes de Centroamérica y Sudamérica intentan llegar a los Estados Unidos de América atravesando México. Muchos son detenidos por las autoridades de migración mexicanas y devueltos a sus países de origen. Amnistía Internacional visitó recientemente México para investigar las denuncias de violaciones de derechos humanos contra estas personas. Durante su visita, Amnistía Internacional constató que muchos migrantes habían sido secuestrados por organizaciones criminales, a veces con la complicidad de funcionarios locales. La impunidad respecto a los abusos contra migrantes, quienes son extremadamente vulnerables, ha favorecido que estos abusos se incrementen, a pesar de del compromiso del gobierno de asegurar el respeto a los derechos de los migrantes.

Según un informe de la Comisión nacional de Derechos Humanos de México, en un periodo de 6 meses de 2010, más de 11,000 migrantes irregulares fueron secuestrados en México.

Amnistía Internacional produjo recientemente un documental sobre la situación de los migrantes centroamericanos en su paso por México, Pueden verla y actuar en:

UA: 201/11 Index: AMR 41/042/2011 Fecha de lanzamiento: 27 de junio de 2011

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Farmworkers Association of Florida: Take Action Now!

Help Farmworkers With a Win!


Help Protect the Health and Safety of Farmworkers

[Deadline is June 28, 2011!]

It is not too often that we have something that we have a chance of winning in protecting the health and safety of farmowrkers. That is why, we are asking for your support in helping us win a victory by notifying the EPA to require bilingual labels on agricultural and other pesticides. SEE LETTER AT BOTTOM!

We at the Farmworker Association of Florida and other social justice, labor, health, and humanitarian organizations would like the EPA to integrate a simple piece of legislation that would improve the health and safety of farmworkers across the nation. Most pesticide labels are still only in English, whereas most of the people who apply pesticides are Hispanic immigrants, and thus are much more likely to sufficiently understand labels in Spanish rather than English. Providing written warnings and instructions in the language that farmworkers are most likely to understand will greatly reduce the probability of accidental exposure.

YOU CAN HELP! You can submit your own comments to EPA by going to the direct link at:!searchResults;rpp=50;po=0;s=EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0014.

The original EPA announcement in the Federal Registrar can be found at!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0014-0001.

You can, also, sign the on-line petition at

While employers are required to provide workers with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment and to properly train handlers and applicators on the correct use of pesticide products, this is currently the best-case scenario. The farmworkers inability to check what they have been told against required written warnings and instructions on a pesticide label leaves them without a method of checks and balances to ensure they are doing all that is necessary to best protect their personal health and safety.

Our opportunity now is critical to helping improve the health and safety of the nations farmworkers. We have been working with other farmworker groups around the country on this, and now EPA has responded by opening up a public comment period to solicit input from all sectors in the country. It might be our only opportunity to do this for a long while, so we are trying to get a critical mass of official comments to the EPA from a diversity of organizations and farmworker supporters.



We only have until June 28th when the comment period ends. So, we are working hard to try to get as many favorable comments as possible. We know that the pesticide companies are going to try to give all kinds of reasons and excuses why they cannot translate pesticide labels into Spanish. We have to be ready with hundreds of comments from farmworker supporters to demonstrate the importance of bilingual pesticide labels to farmworker health and safety.

Thank you for your help! Thank you for working for social and environmental justice for farmoworkers!


Katie Weyrauch
Pesticide Re-evaluation Division
Office of Pesticide Programs
Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
Washington, DC 20460 (Date)

Dear Ms. Weyrauch:

I am writing on behalf of [your organization] in support of the proposal to provide pesticide labels in English and Spanish. [Describe your organizations mission and your interest in bilingual labeling, e.g. improving farmworker safety, protecting the environment]

Requiring pesticide manufacturers to label their products in English and Spanish will increase pesticide user safety. Pesticide labels communicate information critical to the prevention of harm to human health and the environment. This includes warnings and precautionary statements, first aid information, personal protective equipment, and directions for safe use. According to national surveys, the agricultural workforce is overwhelmingly foreign born and Spanish speaking, and most cannot read English. Workers who handle pesticides thus are unable to understand information contained on the labels that is critical to protecting human health and the environment. Providing pesticide handlers access to this information in a language they can read and understand will greatly reduce the risks of needless and dangerous exposures to themselves, to other workers, and to the environment.

Workers inability to read pesticide labels puts them at risk. In a recent study in Washington State, farmworkers who could not read English exhibited higher rates of pesticide exposure than workers who could read English.

Current EPA regulations seem to recognize the prevalence of Spanish speakers in the workforce but do next to nothing to address this reality. Instead, they place heavy burdens on both workers and employers to provide their own translations. The following statement appears in Spanish on labels of the two most toxic categories of pesticides: If you do not understand the label, find someone to explain it to you in detail. 40 CRF 156.206(e). In short, the current labeling requirements are grossly inadequate to protect Spanish-speaking farmworkers.

Puerto Rico is an example both of how Spanish translations are feasible and why bilingual labeling is needed. Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) sold in Puerto Rico have Spanish labels, which shows it is feasible for pesticide manufacturers to translate their labels. However, non-RUPs can be sold in Puerto Rico with English labels, even though Spanish is the official language. There is important safety information on non-RUP labels, and it should be written in a language that users can read.

Bilingual labeling is both a fundamental and practical means of protecting workers health and environmental safety. Pesticide manufacturers already translate many of their labels into Spanish and other languages in order to sell them internationally. In addition, Canada recently implemented a bilingual labeling requirement for pesticides (French and English).

We urge the EPA to adopt regulations to require pesticide manufacturers to translate labels into Spanish. This is a common sense approach that recognizes the realities of todays agricultural workforce and would provide increased protections to workers, their families, rural communities and the environment.


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Friday, June 03, 2011

On Wrong Side of History Again: Supreme Court Upholds Law Aimed at Immigrant Workers

by the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the 2007 Arizona Legal Workers Act which mandates the use of E-Verify by all Arizona employers and allows Arizona courts to revoke business licenses of employers found to "knowingly or intentionally" hire undocumented workers.

The Act was originally signed into law by former state governor Janet Napolitano in 2007 and challenged by a broad coalition of business and civil rights groups. While the decision does not explicitly address other state immigration laws, such as Arizona's draconian SB 1070, it follows a long history of racist persecution of undocumented people and communities of color.

In effect, the decision sends a green light for continued raids in Arizona and the enactment of similar forms of racist and anti-immigrant legislation in other states.

For over a hundred years, workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries have been actively encouraged by businesses and the federal government to enter the US in an unauthorized fashion. Through their sweat and toil, these workers and their families have built important sectors of the country's economy, while undergoing the cruelest forms of degradation. In light of such a history, the Supreme Court's decision yesterday is shameful and hypocritical.

Rather than addressing US foreign policy and free trade agreements which have been responsible for the mass displacement of workers in Mexico and other parts of the world, this decision is based on the erroneous premise that penalizing employers will address the immigration issue. Employer sanctions will not stop people from leaving loved ones behind, and undergoing untold amounts of risk to enter the US to survive or join their families.

Moreover, employer sanctions in the past have clearly shown that it is the worker, and not the employer, who bears the brunt of such measures. We have seen how such measures in Arizona have driven workers into the underground economy and into even more abusive and precarious working and living conditions. Only days after Joe Arpaio announced his 20th raid in Phoenix, this misdirected decision will simply give more license to criminalize and persecute undocumented communities and communities of color.

This decision comes at a moment when the Arizona economy is in dire straits. This measure will increase regulation in a way that will result in intrusive police enforcement at the work-site and create tremendous financial costs. Building and administering a flawed E-Verify system, hiring additional enforcement agents, and conducting more inspections, raids and prosecutions will be an additional economic burden on Arizona residents who already suffer from the lack of resources for basic services in education, healthcare, jobs and infrastructure.

The Supreme Court has stood on the wrong side of history before. In 1857, the Court ruled that people of African descent could never be US citizens and were not protected by the Constitution. Four decades later, the Court upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the "separate but equal" doctrine. In 1944, the Court ruled the constitutionality of the government order to force Japanese Americans into internment camps. In all these shameful instances and others, the Court sanctified the oppression of vulnerable groups. And just like these earlier rulings, the 2011 decision will also one day be relegated to the dustbin of history.


Coalicion de Derechos Humanos

P.O. Box 1286
Tucson, AZ 85702

Office: 520.770.1373
Or 1.800.682.4280
Fax: 520.770.7455

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New York Advocates Celebrate Suspension of Controversial "Secure Communities" Deportation Program

Families for Freedom applauds Governor Cuomo on the suspension of the Secure Communities program in New York State! Along with the New York State Working Group Against Deportation, a broad coalition of organizations in New York State, Families for Freedom has been advocating for the suspension of the program for over a year. This is a an outstanding victory for New York!

Betsy DeWitt, Director of Families for Freedom commented, "The Secure Communities program threatened the security of our families and created mistrust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. Governor Cuomo has shown great leadership by suspending this mass deportation program. We feel this is a step in the right direction towards ending this misguided program and other punitive enforcement actions. We hope that other Governors across the country will follow his lead."

We hope that you will continue to support Families for Freedom in its work and continue to support our communities against detention and deportation! Please see the official statements from Governor Cuomo and the New York State Working Group Against Deportation below.


June 1, 2011

Michelle Fei,, 484.466.6334
Mizue Aizeki,, 914.471.2775
Javier Valdés,, 917.679.2971

New York, NY
(June 1, 2011) – A wide coalition of immigrant advocacy groups today applauded Governor Cuomo for suspending the mass deportation program known as “Secure Communities.” This news makes New York the second state in the country to withdraw from the controversial program.

“Governor Cuomo has taken a momentous step towards keeping families together and protecting the rights of our immigrant communities,” said Michelle Fei of the Immigrant Defense Project. “Withdrawing from Secure Communities is the only sensible solution.”

“We are grateful that Cuomo has heard our communities’ concerns and has responded by making New York safer for all New Yorkers,” said Javier H. Valdés of Make the Road New York. “Secure Communities represents a dragnet approach to deportation that diminishes trust between immigrants and local law enforcement.”

“We are greatly encouraged that Governor Cuomo has recognized that Secure Communities erodes trust with the police, encourages racial profiling, and funnels immigrants into an unjust deportation system,” said Mizue Aizeki of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “This program never did and never will belong in New York.”

“This moratorium will halt the spread of a program that was sold as a safety measure but instead made New York less safe by making vulnerable New Yorkers afraid to call the police for help or to report a crime,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Instead of protecting us, Secure Communities has been used as a shortcut to deportation.”

“Governor Cuomo has shown real moral authority by ending New York’s participation in Secure Communities,” said Ravi Ragbir of the New Sanctuary Coalition. “We pray that other governors across the country will follow the example set by Illinois and New York.”

Since Secure Communities, which is run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was signed into effect a year ago in New York, advocates have called upon both Governors Paterson and Cuomo to end the state’s participation, calling it an unjust dragnet that tears New York families apart and destroys the trust between police and the communities they serve.

Nationally, ICE has come under fire for lack of transparency and accountability in its administration of the program. Two weeks ago, a letter released by a former ICE contractor confirmed that ICE intentionally misled New York to obtain the state’s participation in Secure Communities.

“Especially given ICE’s own admissions about the way in which it has deceived states, including New York, about Secure Communities, there is simply no reason why any jurisdiction should participate,” said Center for Constitutional Rights’ Sunita Patel, one of the attorneys who had sued ICE to release documents about the program. “No state should trust an agency that has acted so duplicitously in its dealings.”

Cuomo’s decision joins a groundswell of opposition against the program. In recent weeks, Illinois Governor Quinn rescinded its agreement to participate in Secure Communities, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren Sen. Menendez called for an investigation of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus urged Pres. Obama to stop Secure Communities immediately. In New York, 38 state legislators – joined by US Congress Members Serrano and Velasquez – called upon Governor Cuomo to terminate the State’s Secure Communities agreement while religious leaders and advocates held vigils and rallies demanding an end to the program.


The New York State Working Group Against Deportation is a broad coalition of domestic violence, immigrant rights, family services, labor, faith-based, civil rights, and community-based organizations that aims to stop Secure Communities and other deportation programs.


From the Governor's Office [on the decision to suspend "Secure Communities."]:


Manisha Vaze
Families for Freedom
3 W 29th St. #1030
New York, NY 10001
ph: (646) 290-5551
fax: (800) 895-4454

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