Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Action Alert: Tell ICE to keep Buen Pastor families together!


Thursday, Sept. 29 -- National Call-in Day for Justice for Buen Pastor Congregation

Your help is needed NOW to fight the deportation of 22 members of the Buen Pastor congregation in North Carolina.

Last Thursday, 22 members of the Buen Pastor congregation had a hearing in Charlotte, North Carolina to fight their deportation. Immigration judge, Barry Pettinato, denied the motion to suppress evidence and terminate proceedings. He also denied a continuance to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to make a decision to drop the charges.

As a result, two members were given final deportation orders and seventeen members were given voluntary departure; the seventeen will need to pay voluntary departure bonds of $500 each within five business days. Three members who qualify for immigration relief will continue to have hearings in the Charlotte court. The congregation will appeal the decision with the Board of Immigration Appeals, which will put their removal dates on hold.

The process with the courts may take up to eighteen months, and the families face an uncertain future. However, ICE can take action NOW to drop the case. Over 800 people across the country have already signed the petition urging ICE to drop all charges and dismiss the case -- but after a month and a half, ICE has not responded.

Join us in a National Call-In Day on Thursday, Sept. 29, to ICE Secretary John Morton. Please tell him to keep these families together, and drop all charges in the case of the Buen Pastor congregation.
Call ICE Today!
Dial (800) 394-5855 and tell them:

Hello, I am calling from ______________________ to urge John Morton to drop the charges against all the families involved in the Buen Pastor congregation case in which 22 men, women, and children are facing deportation. Over 800 individuals have signed a petition asking for him to drop the deportation proceedings for this case but have not received a response.

• John Morton has the power to take action today to drop charges.

• Members of Buen Pastor are exactly the kind of individuals who should benefit from President Obama’s August 18th announcement that DHS should use discretion to close cases of individuals who are positive influences on our communities, and who furthermore, are victims of civil rights abuses.

• The church members have filed a complaint and now have an open investigation with the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for rights violations including racial profiling, denied access to interpreters, denied access to legal counsel, and threats to take away their children.

Join us in raising our voices to bring real justice for these families. Thank you for your time.

Tell us how the call went by filling out a brief survey.

Then forward this e-mail to three friends and ask them to make a call.

To read more about the Buen Pastor case, click here and here.

Recent news coverage of the 9/22 hearing in Charlotte, NC:

News 14, "Immigrants await status in Immigration Court."

Kansas City Star, "Judge rules immigrant church members stopped by border agents must leave U.S."

Charlotte Observer, "Judge orders immigrants removed from church."

News clip on local tv station:, "Members of church group fighting deportation."


*Photo credit: Jorge Hernandez-Calderon

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Race & Immigration: 10 Years After Durban

[This is your invitation to the event. Due to heightened security, you must confirm your participation at 212-682-3633, ext. 3111 by noon on Thursday. To access the Church Center from 44th and Second Ave you must have this invitation and a picture ID. A staff member from CCUN will be present from 1:15 – 1:45 to escort you through security to the building. You will not be able to access the building without confirming your participation and without a picture ID.]

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011

2:00 - 4:00 pm,
Boss Room, 8th floor,
Church Center for the UN,
New York

A panel presentation and discussion on the developments at the intersection of race and immigration since the World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia -- which concluded just days before Sept. 11, 2001.
(Photo shows march for migrant rights at WCAR events in Durban, South Africa.)

On Aug 28 – Sept 8, 2001, over
15,000 people from around the world met in Durban, South Africa for the World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia (WCAR). WCAR was an exciting development for the global migrant rights movement, led by the NGO Migrant & Refugee Caucus and more than 70 organizations from around the world, including the US Immigrant Rights Working Group representing 25 US organizations. But with the tragedy of 9/11 following closely on the heels of WCAR, a global backlash ensued. Racial discrimination against migrants increased rather than decreased after WCAR, fueled by “national security” frameworks and criminalization of migrants.

On Sept 22, 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly will commemorate the 10th anniversary of WCAR and its Durban Declaration. To honor the work of the Migrant Caucus in Durban and to highlight the ongoing struggles and intersections of race and immigration, particularly in the US, this side event will explore the significance of WCAR for the immigrant rights movement, as well as the ongoing work since 2001 to challenge racism against our communities and to build multi-racial alliances. anniversary of WCAR and its Durban Declaration.


Carol Barton (United Methodist Women; NNIRR) Moderator

Gerald Lenoir (Black Alliance for Just Immigration – BAJI)

Monami Maulik (Desis Rising Up and Moving – DRUM)


Corann Okorodudu (NGO Committee on Migration, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues)

Convened by: United Methodist Women (UMW) & National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (NNIRR)

Sponsored by: Black Alliance for Just Immigration; DRUM: Desis Rising Up and Moving; Latin American and Caribbean Community Center; Migrants Rights International (MRI); and NGO Committee on Migration.

5 Things you can do to Support Buen Pastor community members

From our friends at Southern Coalition for Social Justice:

Dear friends and supporters,

Thank you so much to the many individuals who have signed our petition. This Thursday, members of the Buen Pastor congregation will have their case heard by the immigration court in Charlotte, North Carolina. Can you be there with us?

This community has been fighting against their deportation after being stopped by Customs and Border Protection on their way home from a religious jubilee over Easter weekend. For the past year, they have been speaking out against human rights abuses committed against them.

We have asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement to drop charges against the church members based on the memo released by the Obama administration on June 17th that instructs ICE to use its discretion to drop the charges against immigrants who do not have other charges and have a civil rights complaint filed with DHS that is under investigation. However, despite over 700 letters in their support, we still have not received an affirmative response from ICE.

Here are ways five ways you can support members of Iglesia Buen Pastor this upcoming Thursday:
  1. Sign an online petition. Sign our online petition asking DHS to drop the charges against Buen Pastor congregants today!
  2. Attend the court hearing. SCSJ invites allies and supporters to come to the court hearing on 9/22. We ask that you arrive at 8:00 A.M. wearing a white shirt and black pants as a sign of support for the church members. We will have buttons for people to wear. For directions, click here.
  3. Join Buen Pastor & SCSJ at a solidarity press conference and picnic. Following the court hearing, we will hold a press conference and solidarity picnic in front of the court house at 11:00 A.M. We invite you to bring a side dish or dessert to share.
  4. Participate in a National Call in Day to ICE asking them to drop the charges. SCSJ with NNIRR are organizing a national call in day on Thursday, September 29th urging DHS to take immediate action to drop all charges against members of the Buen Pastor congregation and stop their deportation.
  5. Share this e-mail with three friends asking them to do the same.

Thank you.


Rebecca Fontaine
Community Organizer
Southern Coalition for Social Justice

VTMFSP Leader Danilo Racially Profiled; Community Mobilizes

VT Farmworker leader Racially Profiled. Vermonters Mobilize with Rapid Response Prompting Governor to Intervene

September 13th was a long and painful day for the Vermont farmworker community and friends. Our dear friend and one of the community's most courageous and outspoken leaders, Danilo Lopez, was racially profiled by State Police on I-89 just north of Middlesex during a routine traffic stop. Danilo and his co-worker Antonio spent the day incarcerated by State Police and later Border Patrol. After a long day of community mobilizing, the two farmworkers were eventually released to cheers, hugs and tears by two dozen friends and supporters at 8pm on Tuesday.

Danilo explains that around 8:30 am on Tuesday September 13, "Police stopped us. Though there was no reason to ask for my documented status they did and only for being a different color from our friend who was driving. We chose to remain silent...He called the Border Patrol quickly." Ironically, just 3 weeks ago Danilo had visited the State House to talk with Governor Shumlin and the Department of Agriculture to seek the Governor's support to stop Federal Programs like 'Secure Communities' that blur the lines between Police and Immigration Agents. He was looking forward to a longer meeting with the Governor scheduled for the end of the month, but now he is unsure if he can attend as he awaits a deportation hearing.

While Tuesday was a difficult day, it was also inspiring. As the VTMFSP learned more about the racial profiling incident directly from Danilo via text messages, our allies at the VT Workers' Center blasted out calls to action on the web and via text messages. We were truly amazed by the number of concerned Vermonters who immediately took action, spoke out and organized to raise attention about this injustice, which happens invisibly and unchallenged every day throughout the country. Calls of concern flooded the Police Commissioner and Governor's office asking them to stop Danilo and Antonio from being deported, and to do everything in their power to intervene due to the State Police's breach of their own Bias-Free Policing Policy. At one point a caller was told, "We'll Put you on the list but there are about 100 people ahead of you."

Friends and members of groups supportive of farmworkers' rights responded immediately and selflessly to the VTMFSP and VT Workers' Center's calls to action, including: the Central VT Farmworker Coalition, the VT Human Rights Commission, Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates, the Addison County Farmworker Coalition, VT Immigration Assistance, the VT Multicultural Alliance for Democracy and Equity, and the Vermont Federation of Nurses. Concerned legislators called us asking what they could do, and were redirected to call the State Police and Governor's office.

It wasn't until later that day that it became clear the hard work was paying off, when Gov. Shumlin publicly called for an internal investigation of the State Police's possible violation of their own Bias-Free policy. Later, the State Police announced that they would review their own policy. Two big steps in a long battle for Bias-Free Policing in Vermont.

Within a couple of hours of getting a text message or a facebook alert, a group of 15 concerned Vermonters also gathered at the Middlesex State Police barracks to figure out what they could do. When Border Patrol began to take Danilo and Antonio away in the early afternoon, five allies peacefully and spontaneously stood up for justice, putting their bodies on the line, blocking the Border Patrol vehicle in an act of defiant civil disobedience, pledging to not let their friends go invisibly or without resistance. Three were arrested.

As Danilo and Antonio were transported north, a different group of supporters followed the Border Patrol Vehicle to the Richford, VT station, where they later gathered again with reinforcements and organized a candlelight vigil, joined by two dozen people. As time passed, hope spread through the crowd, based on reports from tireless allies who had been on the phone all day with Senators and the Governor, that Danilo and Antonio would be released.

Nearly 12 hours after their original detention, friends and allies cheered in the dark, holding candles and exchanging hugs and tears of joy when Danilo and Antonio emerged having avoided the worst nightmare of disappearing into the dehumanizing deportation system. Later Danilo addressed the crowd, "Inside I felt alone but once we were released and saw all of you I was moved with tears of joy."

Though its hard to call this horrible day a victory because Danilo and Antonio await deportation procedures, the day did show that groups of heartfelt people working together do make a difference in Vermont. The swift and urgent response of so many Vermonters not only may have helped Danilo and Antonio but also, as Danilo himself recognized, it drew attention from powerful decision-makers about the injustice of the immigration system and to the everyday invisible reality of Vermont's migrant farmworkers.

All of us at Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project want to express our deepest gratitude to all of you who stood with Danilo, Antonio and all of Vermont's migrant workers on this challenging and inspiring day. We ask you to stick with us in the coming days and to join us as we regroup and prepare to do all we can to stop the deportation of Danilo and Antonio, and to work with the Governor to ensure that Bias-Free-Policing in Vermont be more than a catchy phrase.

What can you do?

1) Write ( and call (802 828-3333) Governor Shumlin to thank him for starting the investigation on this case, and and ask him to:

· Complete a thorough review of the incident and launch a new model for a democratic, bias-policing grievance process that includes transparent community oversight and accountability;

· Pledge to keep ICE's "(in)Secure Communities" out of Vermont as it would only cause this kind of racial profiling to be more common and burden police with the duties of ICE

· Review and make public and accessible all Memorandums of Understanding between all VT Police agencies and federal law enforcement agencies;

· Strengthen and clarify the State Police Bias-Free-Policing policies in collaboration with the Vermont Human Rights Commission and stakeholder communities.

* Invest in promoting Bias-Free Policies to the community and training officers to adhere to their own Bias-Free-Policing policy.

2) Sign on to the Petition to Stop ICE's "Secure Communities" from coming to Vermont:

3) If you can, please donate to VTMFSP. It takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources to sustain this work in support of Danilo and Antonio and all our VT farmworkers.

Thank you again for your support and encouragement. Please stay tuned.

-Brendan O'Neill and Natalia Fajardo, on behalf of everyone at the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reflections and Resources for Justice

On the 10th Anniversary of 9/11:

As the 10th anniversary nears of the events now known simply as "9/11", we pause to reflect on that tragedy, and both the compassionate and hateful responses it triggered. We remember all the innocent lives lost then, and also in the years since, due to the consequences and violence in the "war against terrorism."

The U.S. government's response -- the enhancement and consolidation of "national security" measures and eventual engagement in two long wars -- continues to shape a cruel environment for immigration and immigrant rights, in particular. It's now hard to even recall that in the months preceding 9/11, the immigrant rights movement truly believed that political progress was being made towards the development of a new legalization program. Much of our education, advocacy and organizing since 9/11 has been framed by or fueled by a national security rationale in the the evolution and enhancement of immigration enforcement policies and practices.

At the National Network, many of our members and friends were literally on planes on 9/11, returning home from Durban, South Africa, where more than 60 delegation members had participated in the UN World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia. There too, we had been buoyed by the positive work with our global partners towards uplifting the rights of migrants. We were so excited that we had worked to improve some 45 paragraphs in the UN's "Durban Document" that pertained to migrants and other displaced people!

But we all quickly realized that our work -- our world -- had just made a dramatic shift. Ever since, much of our work and that of the immigrant rights movement has been imprinted in so many ways by 9/11. We could not really know how our efforts would change, but we quickly came to understand that we faced new and ever more difficult challenges.

We wanted to share the editorial and one of the articles that appeared in our first issue of Network News after 9/11 - an issue that was delayed due to the developments, and which also included thoughtful commentary by a variety of immigrant rights voices. Click here to read No Nation of Immigrants Would Treat Immigrants This Way, by Network News Editor Arnoldo Garcia. The themes and concerns are all too familiar today. Calamity of the Patriot, an article by law professor Richard Boswell, describes the impact of the Patriot Act - one of a long line of laws and programs cracking down on immigrants.

We are also sharing tools and resources from friends and allies to strengthen our fight for human rights and justice.

This coming week, we will share a new popular education resource addressing Islamophobia, and we encourage all of our members, friends and allies to help raise awareness in all of our communities of the painful realities of growth of racism and hate, particularly directed to Muslims and anyone perceived to be a Muslim.

NNIRR is also organizing a new national campaign in the coming weeks to shift the narrative on immigration, build support for the suspension of detentions and deportations, and renew the call for a genuine legalization program. Please join us!

Resources and Actions:

NNIRR is a member of the Rights Working Group (RWG), which is organizing a National Week of Action -- Reflecting on Our Loss and Reclaiming Our Rights, this Sept. 11-17. Go here to download the Campaign toolkit for more information on how you can participate this coming week and beyond. A conversation guide is also available.

View the video, Checkpoint Nation? Building Community Across Borders, produced by Breakthrough to complement the RWG campaign against racial profiling. The video features four of NNIRR's member groups - Desis Rising Up and Moving, VAMOS Unidos, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Coalicion de Derechos Humanos - who had organized a solidarity tour of the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.

Sign the petition initiated by RWG to President Obama, to take action against racial profiling.

South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) has launched a new campaign, An America for All of Us, to "build a movement to address post 9/11 backlash." Check it out here.

A special issue of the journal Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts focuses on the impacts of 9/11 on Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian racial, ethnic and religious identities. Information on ordering is available here.

And finally, NNIRR's latest HURRICANE report, Injustice for All: The Rise of U.S. Immigration Policing Regime, describes the consolidation of government infrastructure and policies that have been set in place post 9/11.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

NNIRR's 25th Anniversary Celebration:
Bridging Communities, Breaking Down Walls

Saturday, November 5

Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 5:30 - 10:00 pm
Oakland, CA

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Urgent Action: Tell ICE to stop deportation of Sandra

From our friends at Coalicion de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths

Stop Sandra's deportation!

URGENT: Sandra Lopez is currently being held in Eloy Detention Center where she is facing deportation to Mexico, a country she hasn't been to since she was just days old. She will be deported soon if we do not do something NOW. Please take immediate action to tell John Morton to grant her parole and defer her deportation-Help bring her home to Tucson, AZ!

Please take a few moments to SEND ONE EMAIL and MAKE TWO PHONE CALLS.

Sandra was brought to the United States when she was only days old. She has been living in Tucson her whole life, but is currently facing deportation to a country that is foreign to her. Now 20 years old, Sandra wishes to continue with her education and contribute to her community, but has been held in detention for six months and counting. Thanks to Sandra's determination and the help of several committed organizations and individuals like you and yours, Sandra still has a fighting chance.

A national campaign surrounding Sandra's case was launched on July 25 and has delayed deportation once. Sandra is engaged in a unique asylum case and the courts have acknowledged her "credible fear" surrounding removal to Mexico. This is a critical step forward, yet Sandra remains detained with the fear of removal hanging over her. Despite Sandra's "credible fear," despite her hopes for asylum and for a future with her own ambitions and her own family, friends, and community around her, Sandra is still facing detention and deportation! If deported, Sandra will be sent back to and left unaccompanied in a country she hasn't been to since she was 15 DAYS old!

Please act now to help bring her home!

1. Make Two Phone Calls. If you get an answering machine, please leave a message of support.
Call Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano:
Call Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security John Morton:

Sample script: "I am calling to ask Secretary Napolitano/Assistant Secretary Morton to take a stand for Sandra F. Lopez (A number 200-704-493). Sandra is a vital member of the Southern Arizona community who has lived in this country since she was 15 days old. She is facing deportation unless Secretary Napolitano/Assistant Secretary Morton grants her parole and deferred action immediately! I am asking that the Department of Homeland Security intervene for Sandra's well-being. Her time is running out and a credible fear surrounding her removal to Mexico has already been established. Please do not allow another young member of the community to be locked away in detention only to be deported and ripped away from her home. Thank you."

2. Send an Email. Please use this link to send a letter to John Morton and ask all of your contacts to do the same as soon as possible.


Stand in Solidarity with Alabama Against HB 56

From our friends at the Southeast Regional Immigrant Rights Network

En español aqui

Our sisters and brothers in Alabama are rallying against what could be the harshest state-level anti-immigrant law to date---and they need our solidarity and support. In June, Gov. Bentley signed HB 56, which requires verifying the immigration status of those renting homes, reporting the immigration status of both children and parents during school enrollment, invalidates contracts where one of the parties is undocumented, and criminalizes basic, daily interactions between U.S. citizens and other lawfully present individuals and undocumented immigrants.

HB 56 is slated to be implemented on September 1, 2011, but already it has had devastating consequences for the immigrant community and for Alabama as a whole.

The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network urges you

to support Alabama's resistance movement against HB 56

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Organize a contingent to come to the Birmingham mobilization on September 1st. Click here for event flyer.
  • Organize a solidarity action in your local community.
  • Volunteer
    • If you are an experienced organizer and can commit to at least one week, come to Alabama to support local groups as they organize allies and the immigrant community against HB 56. Join SEIRN's organizing drive from August 24 to September 15. Help with Know Your Rights education, outreach for the September 1 mobilization, and public education about why this law is bad for Alabama. Click here to join the solidarity organizing team.
    • If you live in Alabama, offer to house volunteers, provide meals or offer additional logistical support. Click here to join the local support team.
  • Find us on Facebook, spread the word:
    • Visit the official Facebook page of the Rally for Alabama's Future: Repeal HB56 by clicking here. "Like" the page, repost their status, share it with your friends!


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