St. Louis Faith Community Joins National #ElPasoFirme Vigils Tonight. A group of local people of faith and good will from a handful of congregations and organizations will gather tonight, responding to the call from national groups including Refugee And Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), and the Poor People’s Campaign, to reaffirm our commitment against white supremacy, xenophobia and hatred.
Contact: Sara John, 636-222-7621, email@example.com
As Immigrants Living in Sanctuary Face Threats from the Trump Administration, the Sanctuary Collective is in D.C. Urging Action
“My husband has been living in a St. Louis church for almost 2 years.”
Washington D.C. - A dozen members of the National Sanctuary Collective are in Washington D.C. today calling on congressional members to take action and champion their cause. Earlier this month, members of the Collective were mailed fines as high as $497,777 from top DHS officials in the Trump Administration. This comes on the heels of ICE operations against sanctuary members -- one at a scheduled USCIS appointment and another against a crime victim and the certifying police agency that signed on to a certification acknowledging her cooperation with a law enforcement agency.
“The current administration has turned sanctuary into an ugly word, but at the very core, sanctuary represents resilience and human dignity. Given the political climate, the leaders of the collective understand that it will take bold action and leadership to address this issue head on, but they are willing to take on the challenge, and they are counting on elected officials to find national policy solutions to this issue, which would have implications for thousands of people.” Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney for Edith Espinal, one of the mothers living in sanctuary who received a fine letter.
What: Press Conference
When: TODAY, Tuesday, July 23 @ 1:00pm
Where: Rayburn House Office Building 2325, Washington DC
Who: Members of the Sanctuary Collective, their family, church leaders and attorneys for immigrants in sanctuary
VISUALS: Testimonials and pictures
“We are here in D.C. today representing all of the families across the country who are not only separated but also facing retaliation from this Administration,” states Carly Garcia, whose husband, Alex Garcia, has been living at Christ Church United Church of Christ in St. Louis since September 2017. Carly, a U.S.-born citizen, has expressed that “it doesn’t matter that I am a U.S. citizen and we have 5 kids together, they still want to deport my husband.” On July 12th, 2019, Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1) introduced H.R. 3750, a private bill for Alex Garcia, which, if it is prioritized by Congressional leadership and the Immigration and Citizenship subcommittee, could result in a stay of removal and ultimately, legal permanent residency with a pathway for Alex to become a U.S. citizen.
“For those of us living in sanctuary it feels like we have been forgotten by those who claim to be our champions. We too are separated from our families, yet we are told to be patient and to wait for immigration reform” says Edith Espinal, an Ohio mother who has been in sanctuary at the Columbus Mennonite Church for 21 months. “In Columbus I am still waiting for my representative to visit me at the church. For two years I’ve been requesting a meeting, I just feel like we are not a priority.”
“Our friends are going to D.C. on our behalf because there are members of congress like Sen. Sanders and Rep. Castro who have personally made promises to us. We want to make sure that they keep their word and that our struggle becomes the number one priority for them” said Hilda Ramirez, who has been living in sanctuary with her 11-year old son Ivan, for over two-years.
The National Sanctuary Collective (Colectivo Santuario) is comprised of immigrants in sanctuary, immigrant organizers, attorneys, and allies in faith communities spanning seven states—Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Virginia.
By Kathy Peterson
In March, I joined the now 100-day-long witness at the immigrant children's prison camp located in Homestead, Florida. There were roughly 2,200 kids there from ages 13-17 and new busloads arrived most nights. The government is aiming to reach full capacity: 3,200 incarcerated children. Recent family separation and child detention efforts were aimed at dissuading asylum seekers from coming to the US. Like the decades of other prevention through deterrence policies, this policy failed completely. However, well-connected former government members have realized that there is tremendous money to be made in this scheme.
Although a Federal Judged ordered child separation to end on June 26, 2018, it continues. Any child who arrives with someone who is not a proven parent is considered unaccompanied and sent to the prison camp. Any parent who has previously tried to enter the US is immediately charged with the crime of illegal re-entry, and the family will be separated and imprisoned. Any parent with an arrest record in their native country will have their child taken and be jailed. This includes charges related to defending oneself in domestic violence circumstances. The number of detained immigrant children climbs everyday even though there are families and sponsors wanting to be reunited with their children.
As more children have been detained (from about 2,700 when Trump took office to more than 15,000 by December 2018), there has emerged a closed loop of profit and power that has allowed a small number of corporate actors to reap enormous gains, which are then funneled in part into campaign contributions, which in turn ensure the creation and maintenance of policies to protect and promote their personal financial benefit. The for-profit companies running these prison camps have no incentive to release children. Right now, there are about 11,000 separated children being held in 100 sites.
At Homestead, the largest prison of any kind in the US, they are being paid $750 a day per child. At a capacity of 3,200 children, that is $2.4 million a day of tax payer money being funneled into the for-profit DC Capital Partners Corp, the company that owns Comprehensive Health Services (CHH), which operates the Homestead Camp. The 10-member board of DC Partners includes former top national security, diplomatic, and military officials. One member, John Kelly, is the former Trump Chief of Staff and Secretary of Homeland Security. He helped craft the policies that caused these detentions and now he is making money off those very policies.
CHH has just been awarded a no bid $341 million contract to run Homestead beyond October. This has outraged some members of Congress who are calling for an investigation. CHH is not licensed to care for children in Florida. In addition, CHH has paid a $3 million medical fraud settlement in Florida for double-billing while providing medical screenings for IRS agents. In May, General Dynamics (GD) got a $1.6 million contract to provide training and technical assistance at Homestead. GD has faced $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995. When the kids turn 18, they are handcuffed, shackled, and transferred to a GEO-owned facility, the infamous Broward adult prison. GEO has made major campaign contributions to Donald Trump and hired a lobbyist who worked on behalf of Trump’s Florida golf courses. It is clear that our criminally corrupt system of making war on brown migrants is enriching a small few who have found criminalization to be a very lucrative path to obscene profits.
Follow the movement to end immigrant child prisons on Facebook: Witness Tornillo: Target Homestead. There are daily actions announced on the page that you can take to help end this atrocity.
Go to Homestead to join the Witness. Call Kathy Peterson 314-781-5740 for information.
Invite a speaker come to your group and/or include and article in your newsletter/bulletin/publication. Call Kathy Peterson 314-781-5740 for information.
Donate! Consider the following:
Support the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee at Fianzafund.org to post bond to reunite families. Donations to the Fianzafund.org are tax deductible through their fiscal sponsor, the Alliance for Global Justice.
Speak up about the atrocity of child prison camps every day until they no longer exist.
About the Author:
Kathy Peterson and her husband, Dan Mosby, have been involved with IFCLA for more than 30 years. They participated in the Witness at the now closed Tornillo, Texas, child concentration camp, joined in a week of lobbying the U.S. congress to end the mass incarceration of immigrant children, and have recently returned from Witnessing at the Homestead, Florida, concentration camp.
Ever wonder how many people can enter the US each year? Is there a limit? Based on what? What pathways exist to immigrate to the US? The answers to these questions often depend on an individual's relationships, country of origin, economic class, and even age. This article gives a break down on the amount of time it takes for people to enter the US, and how many people turn to migration to reunite with families. Plus, see what you can do to help create safe migration that honors the dignity of all.
Lives in the Balance: Why TPS is Needed for Venezuela Now. This report from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) analyzes the current situation in Venezuela and advocates for an appropriate US-response in the form of TPS: "Venezuela is facing a massive, escalating humanitarian crisis that includes state-sanctioned violence and persecution of civilians, severe food and medicine shortages, a collapsed economy and a large-scale exodus of people from the country. There is a growing, bipartisan movement of support for Venezuela to be designated for Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, including legislation in both the House and Senate, so that Venezuelan nationals in the U.S. are protected from deportation."
How do local law enforcement agencies interact with people who are undocumented? What is the role of law enforcement in our communities? This article breaks down harmful the 287(g) programs that empower local law enforcement to act as federal immigration authorities: checking status, detaining individuals, and limiting the trust people have in police. Learn how these programs violate Constitutional protections and threaten our communities, and see what you can do to help.
Berta Cáceres was an activist, leader, environmental rights advocate, and a voice for human rights all over Central America, but heavily focused on Honduras. She was a cofounder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, which was designed to address threats to indigenous communities, and help them fight for their land rights and improve their quality of life. She was an advocate for equal representation, anti-violence, and land rights for the indigenous and native people of Honduras.
Where is the “center” of immigration issues in the United States today? Is it there, in Arivaca, on that shrubby plain, surrounded by the discarded items of migrants en route? Is it at Paso del Norte, under the bridge that connects El Paso to Juarez, where thousands of migrants huddle together, freezing and hungry? Is it in the White House, where the administration routinely dehumanizes and criminalizes migrants?
Within this Administration, there have been multiple bills that seek to deter people from immigrating to the U.S., but deterrence tactics are not new: U.S. border and immigration policies and laws have utilized deterrence for decades, including policies such as Operation Gatekeeper from the Clinton Administration, Operation Guardian Support from the Trump Administration, as well as other deterrence policies and tactics specifically surrounding the deserts in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The deterrence policies and tactics maintained and expanded by the current administration systemically deny the dignity of migrants and in many cases have led to irreversible consequences. We must come together to bring about compassion and respect for those who have sacrificed so much to find a better life.
Written by Michelle Manivel, IFCLA Policy Intern (Spring 2019)
Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Amazon has recently been scrutinized for multiple incidents relating to gentrification, tax incentives, and now they are attacking our neighbors with their support and contracting for the deportation of immigrants. Here we will uncover how Amazon specifically is targeting immigrants, where it has instilled fear, and what you can do to make an impact!
IFCLA is honored to be a signer organization of this letter in opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s Harmful “Remain in Mexico” Policy. Thank you to our national partners at CLINIC, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, and Church World Service for organizing this opportunity.
The administration continues its attacks on vulnerable asylum seekers arriving at our southern border. It's latest plan, the Remain in Mexico Policy, requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are pending in the U.S. immigration courts. This policy exposes asylum seekers to great risk of harm, curtails their access to counsel, and does not present a solution to the root causes of Central American migration flows.
Valentine’s Day is a day to show love and appreciation for the important people in our lives. Take a moment on this holiday to show immigrants that you stand with them by taking action to #DefundHate. Action on this day can influence the lifetimes of immigrants and their loved ones. The government could shut down again tomorrow, but our voices can play a part in stopping it! Join faith and community leaders in calling Congress and urging them to prevent funding for deportation, detention, and militarization. Ask them to ensure that tomorrow’s hearing does not implement more drastic changes to our already immoral immigration system. ICE took more people into custody than Congress allowed in 2018, and continued to get funding throughout the last government shutdown. This unethical favoritism has to end now in favor of humane immigration reform.
It is not too late to show your love for our community and your desire to #DefundHate!
The Department of Homeland Security’s current budget will expire on December 7, 2018. Now is the time to contact your members of Congress and let them know that the actions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are unacceptable, morally reprehensible, and do not reflect our values or our vision of community.
In order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress must pass a new budget bill. Ask Congress to hold DHS, CBP and ICE accountable for their dehumanizing policies of mass incarceration, deportation and family separation by cutting their funding. They need to hear your voice, loud and clear, demanding that we stop pouring money into the detention and deportation machine.
St. Louis – Faith leaders en route to the tent prison in Tornillo, TX., where immigrant teens are being detained, will hold an interfaith press conference and “diálogo de fe” (faith dialogue) event at Christ Church United Church of Christ in Maplewood, Missouri, on Monday, November 12 at 6:30 p.m. to demand that all immigrant families be reunited.
IFCLA files a FOIA request demanding transparency from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the use of ankle monitors in St. Louis as the next step in the struggle for justice with immigrants in our community.
The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) was enacted in 1997 to protect immigrant children in government custody. Under the FSA, children were not allowed to be held for longer than 20 days in detention facilities due to the proven harmful effects on their development and well-being. The Trump administration has released an amended version of this ruling that would permit undocumented children and parents who enter the U.S. to be held indefinitely in unlicensed and unregulated facilities. Under the proposed regulation, “emergency” loopholes could result in the denial of basic needs or services to families in detention, as well as reduced access to due process. Plus, children would no longer be required to be transferred to Health and Human Services facilities within 72 hours of being detained.
So, what can you do about this injustice?
At IFCLA’s Dinner Dialogo on Friday, Oct. 5th, SLU junior and dedicated friend of IFCLA Marissa Ornelas spoke about her ten-week experience at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, over the summer of 2018. Marissa shared informative facts and figures about the immigration system and the way that the Dilley detention center functions, but she also shared poignant and powerful first-person testimonies of the hardship and injustices she witnessed during her time there.
Great news! ICE’s request for one billion dollars as part of a short-term spending bill was denied by Congress last week. The Department of Homeland Security requested an ‘anomaly,’ or request for extra funding, in order to continue expansion of the immigrant detention system, but – in an unprecedented move for Congress - the request was not part of the final budget package passed through the Senate, which should pass through the House in coming weeks.
On July 19, St. Louis area clergy and lay leaders occupied the space outside of the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in downtown St. Louis while protesters marched through the surrounding streets. The action highlighted the needs of those who have been directly affected by current immigration policies and laws.