Friday, December 18, 2009

Celebrate International Migrants Day! Enjoy Digital Stories from Migrants & Allies ONLINE!

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day (resolution 55/93). On that day, in 1990, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (resolution 45/158)…

Today, please reflect on the many diverse stories of migrants part of YOUR community.

On the Coloradans For Immigrant Rights blog, you can watch 10 digital stories created by 6 immigrants and 4 allies from the Denver area. We screened the 3-5 minute films at the Bug Theater last Saturday. Thanks to YOU over a 150 people filled the theater to honor the truly moving films created during a 3 day workshop facilitated by the Center For Digital Storytelling in partnership with the American Friends Service Committee. The digital stories combined narration, original art, music and images to share their challenges and successes with immigration and creating community in the United States. If you missed the films, enjoy them on our blog or join us at the Rights for All People annual posada from 5:00 – 9:00 pm at Aurora Central High School where the films will be shown before the play.

Here is a teaser, with photos from the workshop:

If you were lucky enough to be at our premier, you’ll LOVE this KGNU interview…

Yesterday, two participants and their stories were featured on the KGNU Denver public radio program, The Morning Magazine. Maeve Conrad, an Irish immigrant herself, asked excellent questions and Daniel Weinshenker and myself, Jordan, enjoyed ourselves as well. You can listen to the radio program here:

The digital stories are produced in English and in Spanish and are available on DVD to share with faith communities, schools and community groups. We are currently working on a discussion guide to go with the stories, so they can be most effectively to help educate and organize around immigrants rights.

Thank YOU for making this project such a success!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The court held that the Weld County District Attorney’s office
violated the Fourth Amendment when seizing tax files

Denver, CO [December 14] – The American Friends Service Committee and Al Frente de Lucha applaud the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to uphold fourth amendment search and seizure as well as privacy protections.

“Today the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed that the Constitution protects everyone residing here from illegal searches and seizures, regardless of immigration status. The Court found that the search warrant executed by the Weld County Sheriff and used by the Weld County District Attorney in this case lacked any individualized probable cause to justify the search of Mr. Gutierrez’ files, while affirming that taxpayers have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their tax returns and return information,” explained criminal defense and immigration lawyer Hans Meyer. “Finally, the Court found that the affidavit filed in support of the search warrant in this case was so lacking in indicia of probable cause that no reasonable officer could have relied upon it.”

The Court recognized that the Weld County District Attorney’s office circumvented the law in the case of Gutierrez. District Attorney Ken Buck failed to prove individual probable cause and violated the taxpayer’s privacy rights based on federal and state laws that protect the confidentiality of tax returns and return information.

The Weld County District Attorney’s office illegally seized more than 1,300 tax records from Amalia’s Tax and translation service in October of 2008. The District Attorney’s office then began a fishing expedition aimed at criminalizing immigrant taxpayers.

“The case never would have gone this far if the tax documents had been seized from Arthur Anderson,” stated James Merson the criminal defense lawyer at the trial and Supreme Court levels.

“Al Frente de Lucha lauds the Court’s decision to uphold the rule of law under the constitution. The DA’s office unjustly charged and prosecuted working, taxpaying members of our community, divided the Weld County community, and has since spent hundreds of thousands of Weld County dollars defending these misguided policies” says Ricardo Romero, co-founder of Greeley’s Al Frente de Lucha.

“We believe that everyone in our community benefits when all our rights are equally protected. Now that we have had a reaffirmation of our constitution, we hope that the focus will be on passing a just and humane immigration reform in 2010. Key components of this reform should include: a clear path to permanent residence, family reunification a top priority, protection of labor rights for all workers, and respect the civil and human rights of immigrants,” stated Gabriela Flora, Project Voice Regional Organizer of the American Friends Service Committee.

For more details on what just and humane immigration reform looks like, please see AFSC’s A New Path: Toward humane immigration policy

# # #

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Digital Storytelling Premier!

Featuring stories from immigrants & allies…

Saturday, December 12, 2009
5:00 Reception with light refreshments
6:00 Film Showing, followed by a Q & A

The Bug Theatre Company
3654 Navajo Street, Denver, CO 80211

Coloradans For Immigrant Rights & the American Friends Service Committee invite you to the FREE premier film showing of 10 digital stories created by six immigrants and four allies unpacking their own personal stories about immigration.

Thanks to genius facilitation from the Center for Digital Storytelling

DVDs will be available for $5 donation. Perfect for schools, faith communities & community groups.

This event is part of the Shine a Light from Coast to Coast— National Days of Interfaith Action for just & humane immigration reform!

Also SOON to be on found online!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In testament to the fact that there ain't no power like the power of the people 'cause the power of the people won't stop, a broad coalition of Mile High City organizations soudly defeated Initiative 300 with 70% of voters casting a whopping "NO."

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition statement on the victory:
CIRC Celebrates Defeat of I-300, Vehicle Impound!

From the Denver Post:
Denver voters drive off vehicle-impoundment initiative

Monday, November 2, 2009

President Obama announced the official end of the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban

Dear Coloradans For Immigrant Rights!
Today, President Obama announced the end of the discriminatory US HIV Travel Ban.
Starting in 2010, people living with HIV will no longer be barred from entering the United States — no longer turned away at our borders, no longer forced to hide their condition and interrupt medical treatment, no longer treated by our government with contempt.
Said President Obama today:
Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease — yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic — yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country. If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that's why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year.
PHR has been at the forefront of the movement to end the HIV travel ban. Thousands of you wrote moving comments to the Centers for Disease Control, urging them to end the ban.
Today, your persistence and passion paid off. Comments like this one, from a PHR member in Boston, made a difference:
In my roles with an international NGO, a US university recognized world-wide, and one of the top 10 US teaching-hospitals, I work with people around the world who are fighting HIV/AIDS daily. Many of these brave and selfless health care workers are themselves infected with HIV — but that should in no way limit their ability to visit the US and learn from others working in this field.
We can’t thank you enough for taking action to protect the health, dignity and human rights of people living with AIDS worldwide. We are celebrating here in Cambridge — we hope you will also take a moment to celebrate and to recognize the fact that your advocacy to uplift human rights made this day possible.
In solidarity and celebration,
The staff of Physicians for Human Rights

Friday, October 16, 2009

Youth organizers know what's up.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Reflections of Solidarity-What Do Justice and Loving Kindness Mean?

Week Six Reflection
In this week's reflection, Pastor Matt Converse of Ault, CO explains what Micah 6:8 means to him by unpacking the meanings of loving kindness and justice.

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does
the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to
walk humbly with your God?

To read Pastor Converse's reflection What Does Justice Mean?, go to the shrine and light your candle. No registration is necessary to leave a candle or a comment.

In last Week's Reflection, Seeing that of God in our Neighbors, Danielle Short explored how to overcome barriers to seeing that of God in immigrants and how the call to See that of God in Our Neighbors contributes to our own spiritual development. Daniel Short is a Quaker and former Director of the Human Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebrating a victory while continuing to call on Chipotle...

East Coast Growers and Packers -- one of Florida's largest tomato growers -- has agreed to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and food industry leaders to implement the CIW'S Fair Food agreements, including the penny-per-pound raise to harvesters, supply chain transparency, and a stringent code of conduct! This is a major victory in the Campaign for Fair Food and for all of us in Denver who have been working in solidarity with the CIW. In many ways it represents the culmination of the over 15 years of struggle by the CIW -- what may very well be a turning point in Florida farm labor power relations.

This major breakthrough was made possible by the growing purchasing power that the CIW in alliance with consumers nationwide have marshaled behind the principles of the Campaign for Fair Food -- the more than 65,000 restaurants across the country represented by Yum! Brands, McDonalds, Burger King, and Subway that are now committed to buying from growers that work with the CIW to implement the penny per pound wage increase, code of conduct, and farmworker participation in the monitoring system. Ultimately it was the collective purchasing power of those food industry giants that broke the two-year old logjam created by the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange's resistance to the CIW's campaign.Furthermore, thanks to the CIW's Fair Food agreements, these companies will be working in partnership with the farmworkers of the CIW in a transparent manner in order to ensure that the farmworkers are receiving the wage increase and that the code of conduct is being followed.

Chipotle, however...

Last week, before the agreement with East Coast could be made public by the CIW or any of the other parties involved, Chipotle issued a press release claiming the agreement as the product of its labors alone.

Chipotle, rather than make a transparent, formal commitment to work with the CIW to implement a real code of conduct and the penny per pound wage increase, has seized instead on this latest news in an effort to score cheap public relations points. Indeed the only thing transparent about Chipotle's surprise press release was the brazenness of their decision to take sole credit for something it couldn't have accomplished on its own in a million years.

Just do the math.

Total market share of companies in formal agreements with the CIW, agreements that commit those companies to buying from any participating grower: over 65,000 restaurants.

Chipotle: 830

While Chipotle may have been involved in a multi-party process that brought about the East Coast decision, there is no disputing the fact that Chipotle was -- by far -- the smallest piece of the puzzle. And yet, Chipotle was the only company to jump out alone and shout from the highest mountain, "Look what I did!"

Looks like someone might have been a little too eager to wash over the public relations mess left behind by the "Food, Inc." fiasco. Unfortunately, no amount of grandstanding can substitute for real reform.

To be clear: Chipotle still has not signed an agreement with the CIW to pay the penny per pound and has not agreed to work with them to implement a code of conduct which would guarantee farmworkers the ability to participate in the protection of their own rights. There is no way for the CIW to verify that Chipotle is even paying the penny per pound, as there is no agreement on regular reporting or transparency.

East Coast's agreement to work with the CIW is something we should celebrate -- while we continue to call on Chipotle to do the right thing. (See the CIW website for all the latest. See the Denver Fair Food blog for background on the Chipotle campaign.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reflections of Solidarity-Seeing that of God in our Neighbors

Week Five Reflection
Daniel Short is a Quaker and former Director of the Human Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee.

In this week's reflection, excerpted from Seeing that of God in our Neighbors, Danielle explores barriers to seeing that of God in immigrants and how the call to See that of God in Our Neighbors contributes to our own spiritual development.

To read Danielle Short's Seeing that of God in our Neighbors, go to the shrine and light your candle. No registration is necessary to leave a candle or a comment.

Last Week's Reflection

Migration of the Spirit
by Randle Loeb

All of the earliest examples of human collaboration are reckoned by wandering clans that stood on the precipice of death, clinging to the barest thread of survival. Birth and death have always been intricately overlaid and intertwined. There is no escape from the migration of humanity for survival across the rim of the world to the edge of the aboriginal center of the universe. We came out of Africa. Madagascar was the center of the land mass of the world in the beginning and from the floating islands of teeming life Homus Erectus clawed for a place that was safe and abundant to live.

Our claim to places and strategies which lay waste to other competing clans has always been a futile enterprise. There is no thinking in any culture that can make any rhyme or reason of owning land or, for that matter, anything. All wealth belongs inevitably to the earth. We have achieved the rendering of the world into parcels and places, naming the earth and planting a symbol to lay claim to this as my own.

But if one looks at the artificial boundaries, the citadels, the castles, the walls that have been created to hold people in or out it is clear Robert Frost’s reminder, that, “good fences do not make good neighbors,” is exactly right. It is in fact the opposite that is our only means for avoiding extinction. There is no greater imperative than that we share wealth and redistribute this economy everywhere, while at the same time leveling the playing field. Women and men throughout the world are leaving their families today for the purpose of earning remittances and sending this resource home to build the economy in emerging nations. There is one world economy and our interdependence is the only means we have for survival.

When we think about people immigrating from abroad it’s important we realize that we are all related and interrelated from the initial exodus across the continents, 10,000 miles for the purpose of survival, while clinging to a precarious existence. We cannot reign over the earth, the seas, the air and the fire of the world’s inner core. We must harness a will to coexist as a sea of seven billion faces, where half the world will be new children. We must determine how we will rebuild the world for our lives to move forward along the destiny written by the infinite wisdom of creative instinct. We must decide what we will do to share the resources of the earth and harness our technologies to prepare for the new generation and say, “Mr. President, tear down this wall.”
In many nations of the world long ago they understood that limiting people’s rights to passage is a death sentence. In reality, the migration and balance of where people live is not up to anyone. The planning of the migration of people has already changed the major political-social order. We are not the benefactors of the earth’s wealth. The earth still retains rights and always will be our mainstay because we cannot own anything and we cannot possess anyone.

Instead of bickering over whether a child has a right to citizenship, or a right to treatment, or a right to an education, we would be far wiser to learn from these pioneers and voyagers how to better maintain and live together in harmony. Let us hope that when my great grand children are walking around that the earth has opened its gaping mouth to feed all of the young. We can put an end to pestilence, to avarice, to senseless brutality and famine in one fell swoop by expanding our awareness and realizing that all are welcome here, now and forever, no matter what.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Musings from Mexico by CFIR member Kathy Bougher

I´m writing from Juchitan in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. I spent the past two days in a migrant shelter in Ixtepec, about half a hour from here. It´s a place where Central American migrants change trains in their journey north. Monday night Father Alejandro, the priest who is the heart and soul of the shelter, was expecting a train to arrive from Arriaga, the town south of here from which trains depart, around 10 pm. About 7 pm he received a phone call from one of his contacts down the line reporting that the train would be in around 8 or 8:30 and that there were at least 200 people riding. The half dozen people in the shelter--a cluster of cement block building still under construction--immediately organized to prepare dinner. They started the wood fire, put on water to boil for rice and chicken, chopped vegetables, and squeezed lemons for lemonade. We bemoaned the fact that there was only one knife in the entire kitchen. Knives seem to walk away. A while later I went with the Padre to the tracks where he welcomes every train as it slows down coming into the station saying, ¨"welcome" and "There´s food at the shelter." "This is your home." There were indeed about 200 people who had made the 12 hour trip that day in the blazing sun. Back at the shelter people were lined up to get lemonade while the food finished cooking. We had to serve in shifts because there were not enough plates for everyone to eat at once. The food ran out and we started cooking more. Eventually everyone ate. I went around and tried to talk with each of the women, perhaps 10 or 15 percent of the group. So many women are assaulted either during the train ride or on the long trip from the Guatemala border to Arriaga, where there are no trains. Most of the women seemed to be ok, or at least that´s what they said. Most were almost too exhausted to talk. One young woman told me she was fifteen and then said, well, she would be fifteen in a few months. She missed the first round of food and I had to convince her to get up and put her shoes back on her aching feet to come eat during the second round. There are a few mattresses, but most people slept on cardboard, on the cement floors, or outside under the trees. Fortunately it did not rain. The majority of the people left on another train early the next morning.

So, this is my context for thinking about why our work as educators is important The increasingly heated and often hostile national and international debates on immigration impact our students and their families so much. I´ve seen young children as well as teenagers cringe with shame when they hear the word “immigrant” at school. Then they explain that what they have heard is that the definition of immigrant is “illegal.” That´s not acceptable. As educators we need to make our school s safe places for students, as well as places where all students learn to apply critical thinking skills to questions such as immigration. We need to be talking about immigration in our schools in informed ways and we need to be able to support students as they speak for themselves.

written by Kathy Bougher, CFIR member, Aug. 5, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review begins TODAY!

Join the conversation at
Right now, thousands of stakeholders across the country are coming together to produce ideas and priorities that will inform our nation's homeland security policies for the next four years. DHS will produce a report based on the results of its review for submission to Congress on December 31, 2009.
You can read and rate actual DHS study group proposals, contribute your own ideas, and watch in real time as the best ideas "rise to the top" at
Please participate in this initiative, and help spread the word:
1. Forward this e-mail to five friends or colleagues whose ideas and perspectives should be part of this discussion. We have created a one-page summary of the National Dialogue for your ease of use.
2. Post a message or link on your blog, newsletter, corporate intranet, or e-mail list.
3. Block out 2-3 hours between August 3rd and August 9th to visit, create a user account, and participate in the Dialogue.
4. Follow us on Twitter at @qhsrdialogue to receive event reminders and updates.
Need more info? Watch this short video of Secretary Napolitano explaining the National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and why your input is so critical to this process.
This unique opportunity is hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration, a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on effective government. Your participation, and that of stakeholders like you around the nation, will inform this important review of our nation's homeland security strategy and priorities. Thank you in advance for joining the discussion and sharing your feedback.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Reflections of Solidarity-Migration of the Spirit

JOIN US TODAY, AUGUST 3rd for our Faith Action
at the Detention Center

We will Illuminate, Strengthen, Stand with
Our neighbors, Our family, Our community
For Fairness, Human Rights, Dignity, and Reform,
To Remember and to Witness

TIME: 6:00 PM
WHAT: Community for Just and Humane Immigration Reform
Solidarity with our immigrant brother and sisters

CARPOOL: meet at AFSC offices at 5:00pm

For more information please contact Jennifer Piper at or 303-623-3464

Week Four Reflection
Randle Loeb is a community minister and chaplain devoted to human rights, spiritual life and ending poverty. He has dedicated his life to working with the homeless and the marginalized.

In this week's reflection, Mr. Loeb asks us to look at the arc of history and the deep rooted causes of migration, both of spirit and of body.

To read Randle Loeb's Migration of Spirit, go to the shrine and light your candle. No registration is necessary to leave a candle or a comment.

Last Week's Reflection

Right now in America, a major employer is disrupted, its workforce cut by the hundreds or thousands. And a detention camp holds people without access to our usual rights and liberties.

But, the employees will not be laid off because of the recession. There are no terrorists in this camp; it’s not in Cuba, & President Obama has not ordered it to be closed.

Losing their jobs, being held without rights are America’s undocumented immigrants – our country’s mixed multitude.

Postville Iowa does not stand alone – it is a microcosm of a larger problem across our land. I want to invite you to help teach Torah and change policy as part of the JCA’s “Progress by Pesach” campaign – to end, within the first hundred days of the new Obama administration, the destructive immigration enforcement raids begun under the previous administration.

How does this tie to what we’ve been reading in Shmot?

Rewind: 3000 years ago, it was much the same – a pivotal time of change. In our first hundred days as a people, we left Egypt with a mixed multitude, crossed the Sea of Reeds, and encamped at Mount Sinai. The next ten months at Sinai will establish:
  • a judiciary, courtesy of Jethro,
  • laws and policies, from G-d
  • a tabernable, built by the people to G-d specs
  • and a functioning community
In this week’s parsha, T’Tzavveh, we get detailed instructions for building the Mishkan, a visible structure for G-d’s presence among the people and for swearing in Aaron as the Cohen-General. Aaron will sport the ephod, a breastplate set with semi-precious gems representing each of the twelve tribes and inscribed “Holy to the Lord”, to reminding him of his role representing the children of Israel before G-d.

And who is missing?

The first missing person is our new leader. T’Tzavveh is the only parsha, from Shmot forward, that omits our leader – Moses. Many commentators say that Moses’s absence is to leave room for Aaron. But perhaps, we should see Moses’ absence as leaving room for the our responsible involvement in making decision and a warning against rely on any one leader to fix our problems. Finally, Moses’s absence in this parsha makes us think of the seder haggadah and the invitation for you to join us for the JCA Freedom Seder at 3PM on Sunday March 22 at Mt. Zion Temple.

Also missing are the strangers among us. Etz Chaim commentary describes “a mixed multitude” of “varied groups of forced laborers…” who left Egypt with us. Since then, more strangers have joined us on our journey, coming to live and work with us. Yet these strangers may not share our culture, our religion, or even our language. So, how will we, this new people emerging at Sinai, treat the strangers among us?

G-d could have instructed the people: “When you reach the promised land, erect strong walls at your borders, to keep out the strangers, the non-believers, the others; that your jobs shall remain only with your people and that different ways shall not come amidst the community of Israel.”

Instead the Torah paints exactly the opposite vision: we are expected to live in an open land, in successful communities that will, in all likelihood, attract strangers who are different than us.

All great societies do this – attract, and even invite strangers to join us, to work amongst us.

Ancient Egypt began this way. The Joseph saga culminates with Pharoah’s invitation to the children of Israel to come to Egypt to settle and to work in the land of Goshen. And they can have those smelly, menial jobs that cultured Egyptians won’t do: being shepherds.

400 years later, the children of Israel multiplied into hundreds of thousands. But, changing, wiser, cagier government policy enslaved and oppressed them. Families were ripped apart, literally, as children were separated from parents and drowned in the Nile.

The Torah gives us a reminder - one commandment, one reminder, for every 11 years of suffering in captivity in Egypt: Not just once or twice, but 36 times, in the most repeated commandment in Torah, we are taught about our obligation to the stranger and the vulnerable:

I won’t read all 36 to you. Here is a sampling
In Shmot, in Mishpatim we learn:
“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” [Exodus 23: 9]

In Va-Yikra, in K’doshim, we learn:
“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt…” Leviticus 19:33-34

So a summary of the Torah’s immigration laws still resonates today:

  • Don’t enslave strangers.
  • Don’t wrong strangers.
  • Don’t oppress strangers.
  • Treat strangers with respect and compassion.
  • Provide strangers who accept our ways a pathway to citizenship and integration into our society
And the irony of history or divine plan was that for thousands of years, our people have been the immigrants, the strangers, the vulnerable resident aliens in the midst of other nations. Will we remember the feelings of our families, and of similar families today --- the feelings and the desperation that impelled them to move when times and places became untenable?

Fast-forward all the way to the present: Wealthy, safe first-world societies still attract and invite strangers to live and work amongst us – filling the menial, tough jobs we don’t want.

In the United States, our current harsh and unrealistic immigration policies push over 50% of our immigrants to come here without documents, with total numbers swelling to over 12 million people.

Have you detected these immigrants? Have you seen the rebuilt stores and the vibrant community rebuilding on Lake Street? Have you heard “Oprime ocho par espagnol” on a menu? I’m sure you haven’t personally oppressed any strangers. Maybe you even tipped a Somali cab-driver or the Hispanic maid in your hotel. So you are in the clear – right?

But in reality, our communal response to immigrants is quite different than how we would act as individuals. And over time, our policies have become increasing harsh and inhumane.

Today, there is no pathway to citizenship for our undocumented, mixed multitude of 12 million strangers. Everyone knows that we cannot deport 12 million people – can you imagine any system that could extract 12 million men women and children from our communities, their jobs, their homes and their schools? And if we could imagine a horror on this scale, would we think it a wise use of our money or an ethical way to treat our neighbors?

While our past administration knew that it couldn’t deport all the undocumented, it felt it could crank up immigration enforcement, creating a small-scale symbolic deportation system. First it convinced Congress we had a security issue – we wouldn’t hunt down ordinary undocumented immigrants, but we surely needed to track down the criminals living among us. Funding and arrest quotas were increased – and the nominally sounding “fugitive operations program” began in 2003.

The numbers?
The policy of mass workplace and neighborhood raids arrested strangers at a rate of 20,000 per year. At this rate, it will take just 600 years to deport all the undocumented immigrants. I didn’t say to deport all the criminals - because we aren’t catching them. Our prior administration, through executive policy choices, redirected this program away from hunting the small percentage of truly dangerous criminals to achieving those expanded arrest quotas. Almost ¾ of the 100,000 people rounded up in the past 5 years are undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.

And the workers?
Federal teams have surrounded workplaces and neighborhoods. The workers caught in the raids are engine re-manufacturers in Washington, meatpackers in Minnesota and Iowa, and others. They will be arrested for civil immigration violations – not for criminal offenses.

And the detention camps?
Surely our people and our country have seen enough of these…
From mass arrests and conveyor belt justice, the immigrants are moved to detention camps, part of a large gulag across our country, housing 33,000 immigrants on any given day and where 80 immigrants have died while in custody since 2005.

And the families?
Like the instructions of Pharoah, we have separated families: husbands from wives and children, some US citizens, from their parents. We have disrupted neighborhoods and workplaces, sowing fear and confusion among immigrant communities. We move those arrested to far those away detention facilities, keeping key details of their whereabouts from their families and their communities.

To read more go to Progress by Pesach

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reflections of Solidarity-The Mother of An Immigrant

Last week, Don Juan Manuel Patraca shared one of his many amazing poems with us. In it, he shares the emotions of an immigrant and the love that sustains him even in his isolation. To read last week's reflection, scroll down.

Week Three Reflection, Rabbi Leonard Oppenheimer's D'Var Torah

In this week's reflection, Rabbi Oppenheimer discusses the historical context of the Torah's commandments on how to interact with immigrants and how those commandments are still relevant today.

"The Torah gives us a reminder - one commandment, one reminder, for every 11 years of suffering in captivity in Egypt: Not just once or twice, but 36 times, in the most repeated commandment in Torah, we are taught about our obligation to the stranger and the vulnerable"

To read the rest of, and leave a response to, Rabbi's Oppenhiemer's D'Var Torah go to the shrine and light your candle. No registration is necessary to leave a candle or a comment.

Last Week's Reflection

*English follows Spanish
Lo Siguiente fue escrito por Juan Manuel Patraca y esta reproducido de su libro “32 Biografías para Gente Sencilla” con su permisión. Todos sus poesías son escritos en Ingles y Español.

The following was written by Juan Mauel Patraca and was copied, with his permission, from his book "32 Biographies of Humble People". All his poetry is in both Spanish and English.

"La Madre de un Inmigrante-The Mother of an Immigrant"

Te inscribo estas líneas, espero estés bien, día a día
Hoy, como inmigrante estoy en este país extraño.
Añoro y siento la nostalgia de tu sonrisa
De tus religiosos “bueno días” y tacto de la bondad de tus manos.

Como inmigrante; tú no sabes cuan, vulnerable estoy y extraño
Tu mirada; que siempre me regalabas cristalina y bondadosa,
Tu filosofía y sapiencia de tantos años acumulados.
Tu filantropía, que das al moribundo hermano; dispuesta.

En este inmigrante-país me despierto y despliego la pereza,
Con fe e insuperable fervor, doy gracias a mi bondadoso dios;
Por volverme en sí, de mi muerte prematura.
Pero, sobre todo por ser molécula de su sangre y corazón.

Acá; como incontables inmigrantes, vivo en destierro y mucho miedo
He sufrido; discriminación, hambre, sed, granizo, lluvia y nieve.
En ese momento esta tu mirada angelical, que jamás olvido;
Flaqueo y tu cual martillo golpeas y mi voluntad la mueves.

Gracias mil; por tus buenos deseos, bendiciones por ser como eres
Te veo en tus domésticos quehaceres, percibo tu mirada prodigiosa.
Eres un faro inextinguible, estando en la cordillera de Everest,
Ángel, que apareces en mis sueños; rezo, te veo como una diosa.

Desconozco, que futuro espero adverso, como tantos inmigrantes;
Menos aun sé; si en este país, moriré pobre, miserable, o rico.
Cabal; yo sé, si olvido de usted, (10,000 veces) perverso seré.
Moriría en paz, porque de una humilde mujer mexicana fui hijo.

I write you these lines hoping you are well from day to day

I find myself today as an immigrant in this strange country.
I feel and long for the nostalgia of your smile,

Your religious “Buenos días” the tactful goodness in your hands.

As an immigrant, you cannot know how vulnerable and awash I am.
I miss your gaze, crystalline and gracious around my shoulders.

The wisdom, culled from your many gathered years,
Your selflessness, every present at the side of my moribund brother.


In this immigrants-country I struggle to wake and expand myself every morning.

With faith and fervor I give thanks to god’s goodness

For returning me from an early death

But above all, for being flesh, and heart of your heart.


Here, like countless immigrants, I live in exile and fear.

I have suffered discrimination, hunger, thirst, rain, snow and hail

In those moments it was only your angelic sight that I did not forget.
When I stumble, like a hammer, you strike my will to fight and I walk on.


A thousand thanks for your good wishes, blessings, for being who you are.

I see you moving to the rhythm of daily life, pervaded by your grace

You are a torch on my path to Everest

An angel that appears in my dreams and prayers.

Like so many immigrants I cannot know the hard future that awaits me,
If I dies in this country be it poor, miserable or rich,
(How I will be damned, 10,000 times over, if I forget you)

I know that I will die in peace, because I was the son of a humble Mexican woman.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AFSC Guest Column in Des Moines Register: Reunited family is a blessing of immigration

JON KRIEG is a senior administrative associate of the American Friends Service Committee, Des Moines. Contact:

If you're old enough, think back 22 years ago. If my memory serves, I was in Brethren Volunteer Service in Washington, D.C., where I'd often ride my bike to Ethiopian restaurants. Where were you? What were you doing?Michael Madit doesn't have any trouble remembering 1987. Then 7, Michael left his family and fled the violence of his homeland in Sudan for Kenya, eventually ending up in Iowa. It was the last time he'd seen his mother. Five weeks ago, at the airport in Des Moines, Michael saw her once again.

The Iowa office of the American Friends Service Committee has been aiding Michael's lengthy efforts to reunite with his mother. A seemingly endless list of immigration obstacles - including multi-country DNA testing - delayed the process for years.Finally, on June 1, Michael and his wife, Elizabeth, their three children, Reech, Mayen and Abuk, and a host of other Sudanese-Iowans waited patiently for the very last person to get off a plane from Houston (via Dubai and Uganda). After years of letters, phone calls and red tape, Michael and his mother, also named Abuk, were finally reunited. A grandmother embraced her daughter-in-law and her three grandchildren for the first time.

During a recent visit with the Madits, Grandma Abuk showed us the Bible she brought with her from home. She shared family pictures and told us how good it was to be here. Grandkids scrambled across her lap, eager to have their picture taken. Elizabeth recalled that people asked her what surprise she'd have in store for her mother-in-law. Elizabeth's response? "Me!"Jody Mashek, who currently directs American Friends Service Committee's legal services effort, is quick to credit her predecessor, Ann Naffier, for the bulk of the legal assistance work needed to reunite the Madit family. But some version of the Madits' story is played out every day in the lobby of the committee's home, Friends House, at 42nd and Grand in Des Moines.

Each year, American Friends Service Committee's Iowa office helps more than 1,000 immigrants and refugees from dozens of countries. Many people are escaping dire poverty - as my grandparents did when they emigrated from Sweden 100 years ago. Others are lucky to be alive and, like Michael, are eager to reunite the family they still have left. Nine of Michael's 12 siblings are no longer alive.It's easy to lose our moral balance in this nation's debate over immigration reform. Shrill voices scream about legality and economics. Politicians and the blogosphere can be quick to judge and stereotype, but slow to understand. Bureaucrats push paper, but not reform.

Standing in the Madits' living room on a warm June day in Iowa, the questions seem more basic. Don't all people have a right to live? Shouldn't all families be allowed to be together? The details may be complicated, but the truth is as simple as a child in her grandma's lap. It's an image not hard to remember.

published July 11, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reflections of Solidarity-What does love mean?

Last week, Reverend Dunlap searched for the biblical meaning of love at the Reflections of Solidarity shrine. Her reflection is posted below. As I read it, I was inspired to work towards policies that reflect love. I also thought about how I might embody love in my everyday life and actions, even when I'm tired or lacking energy.

Week Two Reflection, Don Juan Patraca
This week's reflection comes from Don Juan Manuel Patraca and is up at the shrine. His poetry describes trial and tribulation and answers whether love can stand the test of time and distance, whether love can sustain us through the worst of times and make us better people. In his poem La madre de un inmigrante-The mother of an immigrant Don Patraca begins this way:

I write you these lines hoping you are well from day to day
I find myself today as an immigrant in this strange country.

To read the rest and light your candle go to the shrine.

Week One Reflection, Pastor Anne Dunlap

Leviticus 19:34 "The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

Let’s cut to the chase: What, exactly, is loving about the way we treat “the alien” among us – the immigrant, the foreigner, the non-native who has left her/his own land because of war, starvation, disease, desperation, and travels to another in hopes to make a better life for her/his family (the meaning of the original Hebrew in this text)?

What, exactly, is loving about building steel walls across a borderline with the express intent to force migrants into the desert, sure that their deaths will be a deterrent to future migration?

What, exactly, is loving about slashing water bottles and shooting water tanks left for migrants so that they won’t die of thirst?

What, exactly, is loving about exploiting immigrant labor by neglecting to pay workers, by not providing for workplace safety, by threatening workers with deportation if they try to organize?

What, exactly, is loving about police harassment of families who contribute to the well-being of our communities?

What, exactly, is loving about workplace and home ICE raids that terrorize hard-working communities, that rip families apart, disappearing partners and parents into a detention system that provides for careless representation of immigrants at best, and no representation at worst? What is loving about leaving children behind with no support, wondering if they will ever see their parents again?

What, exactly, is loving about any of this?

This verse from Leviticus sums up the preponderance of biblical opinion regarding how faithful followers of God’s way are meant to treat the “alien:” just like yourself. The non-citizen should be treated just like the citizen, and be treated with love.

The ways in which God’s vision for the treatment of immigrants differs from current US reality – both in terms of policy and in terms of anti-immigrant sentiment and violence – is vast and hardly in need of repeating here. For those of us who are trying to be faithful to God’s way, God’s vision of communities filled with justice, dignity, and love, the reminder to “love the ‘alien’ as you love yourself” should be the touchstone of our work in solidarity with the immigrant community. For the person of faith, the question is not “What is legal and expedient?” but “What is faithful?”

And the answer to that question is always love.

Let us pray for comprehensive immigration reform that embodies love for the immigrant.

Rev. Anne Dunlap
Pastor, Comunidad Liberación/Liberation Community

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Time for Immigration Reform is Now

Ethnic Media Call for Immigration Reform
New America Media, Commentary, Staff, Posted: Jun 25, 2009

The White House and members of Congress must move quickly on enacting a just and humane immigration reform package that will reunite families, reinvigorate the economy, and remove the term “illegal or undocumented immigrants” from the dialogue in this country. Ethnic media, which reaches over 60 million adults in the United States, calls on Congress to move decisively on immigration reform because there are few issues as important to the nation's well-being as an overhaul of the inefficient, inhumane and economically debilitating immigration system. More importantly, we are also urging our readers and viewers to contact their Senators and Congressmen and let them know that immigration reform must be a national priority.

The immigration system is broken not just for 12 million undocumented immigrants, but also for specialized workers blocked from joining the American economy because of narrow quotas, and mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens who must wait for years before being reunited with their families.

Our nation needs comprehensive immigration policies that will replace a broken system of raids and roundups with one that protects all workers from exploitation, improves America's security and builds strong communities. It’s time to end the division between workers, which has allowed big business to exploit both sides. Clearly, working-class citizens and immigrant workers have much in common – dreams of better homes, education for their families and quality healthcare. There is more that brings us together, than separates us. United we can be a strong force for change, changes that that bring more workforce safety and humane conditions.

Immigration is often portrayed as an explosive, divisive issue. In reality it's not. Since the repeal of the national origins quota system in 1965, which discriminated against certain immigrants, a consensus has been building towards an immigration system that respects the country's core values. These include economic opportunity, equality under the law regardless of ethnic background, and an embrace of the world's most innovative, energetic and ambitious workers.

Now, with the country facing serious competition from workers abroad, it's more important than ever to create a world-class immigration system. It's good for families, good for communities and good for America.

Editor’s Note: This editorial was produced in association with New America Media (, a national association of ethnic media, and was published by ethnic media across the country to bring attention to the urgency of immigration reform. Ethnic media interested in running the editorial can contact

Monday, July 6, 2009

Faith Action at The Immigrant Detention Center

Online Solidarity
Today we launched weekly online solidarity reflections. Each Monday we'll post a new reflection.

Today's was written by Reverend Anne Dunlap, Pastor of Liberation Community. Follow the link to read the reflection and light your candle.

Faith Action at the Detention Center
35 people met tonight at the corner of 30th and Peoria. The immigrant detention center is just up the street on 30th.

We meet the first Monday of each month to remember the brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and neighbors being detained inside. We pray for their families

We meet to pray for our congresspeople and the president that they might find the courage to enact just and humane immigration reform.

We pray for ourselves, that we find a way to challenge the system that criminalizes and splits our communities.

Tonight Sue and Gene Lefevbre from No More Deaths Spoke

Their stories told of increasing death on our border and indifference by our government. Two of their volunteers have been charged and convicted of leaving water for migrants crossing the desert and for picking up trash while doing so. The crime they were convicted of was littering. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials were the ones to ticket them on national parkland in Arizona.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has so far refused to meet with No More Deaths. No More Deaths has invited them to meet and wokr out a plan to keep trash down in the national park and also decrease deaths.

97 people have died alreayd this year in Arizona alone. More than 5,000 people have died crossing our border in the last 10 years. Our policies there don't keep our desperate neighbors from trying to cross. Our policies don't save lives, they end them.

Since the 1990s we've increased the walls and checkpoints along border cities and pushed people into the hottest most deadliest part of the border. They die there. Women, children, men. Of thirst.

No More Deaths saves lives. You can help by supporting No More Deaths with:

  • first aid kits and food kits
  • money
  • letters
The Next Faith Action
August 3rd
30th avenue and Peoria Street, Aurora, CO
email Jennifer Piper for carpool or other information

Friday, July 3, 2009

Familias Unidas Reflection

The following is a reflection on the Familias Unidas Event on Saturday, June 13th, 2009 from Terri, a member of the Interfaith Immigration Rights Coalition of Northern Colorado.

I arrived about 45 minutes early feeling certain I would have many choices in seating. However, I was grateful to procure one of the last chairs near the back. For the next hour people kept pouring in, young and old, Hispanic, Anglo, African American and others who I'm sure I didn't see. Just being in the presence of so many on a pleasant Saturday afternoon coming together out of concern for our current immigration situation caused tears to well up in my eyes from time to time.

Speakers included young children tearfully telling their stories, older children, religious leaders, politicians and those who work with immigrants.

One of the most heart rending stories what that of a young boy around the age of 10 or 11 courageously telling his experience of finally getting to see his parents in immigration detention. And then he said, in between sobs, "I wonder if I will ever be with them again." Other stories by older children told of families being torn apart. They shared their hope and dreams to go to college and succeed but fear they will never be able to because they are not documented. They expressed great sadness for themselves and others like them. Professionals who work with immigrants shared similar stories and expressed regret that they were unable to do more to help.

The religious leaders who spoke included Rabbi Firestone of Boulder, Imam Ali who is of Islam, Rev. Andrew Simpson, Episcopalian, Archbishop Chaput and Rev. Ames. Each shared from their own tradition. The traditions are more alike than different. The theme that is threaded through all is that we must reach out to the stranger in our land and are required to care for those in need with kindness and compassion.

Both Representative Gutierrez of Illinois and Representative Polis spoke powerfully and convincingly of the need for change in our immigration system. They, too, spoke with compassion and care for the immigrant.

Frequently many rose from their seats applauding a speaker and chanting "si se puede" and "yes we can" sometimes in Spanish, and sometimes in English.

I went away feeling the positive power that was present there, knowing the momentum is building and in my heart echoing the words si se puede, yes we can. We are not alone in our efforts to stand by our immigrant brothers and sisters. Let us continue to pray and work together so that one day all immigrants are given the rights they deserve, are treated with compassion and are valued for who they are and what they contribute to society.
We encourage others who were present at United Families to share your experience.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Near the Border, A Trail of Tears

Denver Post
Near the border, a trail of tears
By Chandra Russo

It is the threatening hour of the day. At just 10 a.m., we plod on in 100 degree heat under a vicious sun. Even the desert insects have stopped their rattling below the dry burn.

I sip at my water bottle. I find it difficult to quench my thirst without filling my belly to sloshing. My lips are chapped. My joints ache as we continue into our fourth day.

About 50 of us are walking the Migrant Trail, a 75-mile trek over seven days through Arizona's border lands. We follow the general path taken by so many migrants forced into this remote, brutal desert. We begin in Sasabe, Mexico, a mile south of the border, and head toward Tucson, traveling just east of the Baboquivari range and the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Despite the discomfort, I recognize the immense beauty of this place, stark peaks, fierce but glorious cacti flowering everywhere. The land is saturated with the rich history of peoples and fragile ecosystems that have made this place home for centuries.

The Migrant Trail began in 2003 with about 20 members of this border community. After years of setting out water in a helpless attempt to curb migrant deaths, having recovered far too many human remains, these 20 wanted to experience the journey and expose the daily reality out here. They commit to walk yearly until the deaths stop.

In the years since, many have joined them. This year, five students and their professor from Manitoba, Canada, have come to learn more about the other U.S. border. A French sociologist has driven from California, motivated by his own immigration experience and the immigrant students in his classroom. Many are called by their faith to walk — an Argentine missionary living in the Mexican town of Altar, a nun from Chicago, and a Franciscan monk who walks in his robes.

This is my second year on the Migrant Trail. I was invited in 2007 to better understand human rights issues on the border. In returning, I am reminded of the urgency of fixing the nation's broken immigration system.

Our walk comes at a conspicuous political moment. A week ago, 700 people from around the country convened on Washington to meet with Congress, demanding a comprehensive immigration reform package be passed within a year. Yesterday, hundreds packed into a church in Northglenn as Colorado Congressman Jared Polis and Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez heard testimony from families torn apart by our immigration system. And this Wednesday, President Obama will pull both parties together to push this same idea. This reform has the potential to save lives.

Here's the bottom line when it comes to sealing our southern border: It doesn't work.

In the decision to cross to the United States, economic forces and familial ties trump walls, material or virtual. Since the mid-90s when we cut off the urban crossing points of San Diego and El Paso, and began implementing the latest in military technology, the number of undocumented in the country has more than doubled from 5 million to 12 million. While the most aggressive and expensive border enforcement has forced migrants into ever more perilous crossings, thousands of deaths have proven to be no deterrent to those facing dehumanizing poverty at home.

Pointing to a recent decline in immigration to the U.S., we see that the economy, not border policy, is the determining factor. Any measurable drop begins about four years ago, when our economy began to decline. There were no dramatic shifts in border policy at that time, making it obvious that fewer job opportunities are what stemmed the flow.

After being out here myself with all the comforts we are afforded as walkers, what is surprising to me isn't that people have died. It's that anyone makes it at all. I remark at this as we pass abandoned backpacks along Route 86, signs of migrants who likely survived many days in the desert to be picked up by vehicles.

We look back over the terrain we have walked on our final morning. "Our killing fields," offers a nurse who regularly resuscitates migrants near heat stroke in her hospital.

There is a policy fix for this. We can allot a realistic number of immigration visas so that needed workers and families can safely cross between countries. We can rethink the way we police our southern border.

Already this year, 79 of the dead have been recovered. The season of death, deep summer, has not even begun.

Chandra Russo is communications coordinator at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), based in Denver

David McCabe also posted some beautiful pictures from the Walk at the following link:
Tony put up some amazing pictures as well at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Food justice leaders to Chipotle: "We view the CIW’s struggle for dignity as a non-negotiable part of the struggle for a sustainable food system."

"Food, Inc." director (Robert Kenner) and co-producer (Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation) join more than two dozen sustainable food movement leaders in an open letter to burrito giant Chipotle in support of migrant farmworkers!

In a strongly worded letter, more than two dozen of the country's leading sustainable food activists are demanding that Denver-based Chipotle, the fastest growing company in fast-food, live up to its claims of "Food with Integrity" and "work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers as a true partner in the protection of farmworkers' rights."
Frances Moore Lappe ("Diet for a Small Planet"), Raj Patel ("Stuffed and Starved"), Josh Viertel (President, Slow Food USA), and Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser (director and co-producer the critically acclaimed new documentary on the food industry, "Food, Inc.") are just a few of the voices for a more just food system that added their names to the open letter. Here's an excerpt:

"We realize that Chipotle has announced that it's paying an extra penny per pound for tomatoes, but we have to ask: What has Chipotle done since that announcement to identify and cultivate growers who are willing to raise their labor standards and pass the penny along to their workers? Your company has shown admirable leadership in working with – and incubating – meat suppliers willing to meet your higher standards. But your failure to do that same hard work in the Florida tomato industry – together with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) – threatens to render your announcement an empty gesture aimed more at public relations damage control than an effort to make real change."

The letter comes in the wake of last week's news of an important breakthrough in the Campaign for Fair Food -- Whole Foods' announcement that two of Florida's leading organic producers, Alderman Farms and Lady Moon Farms, will implement the company's agreement with the CIW, including the penny-per-pound wage increase and a strict code of conduct.

Click here to see the letter in its entirety and the full list of signatories!

We could not have said it better. Denver Fair Food is proud that, despite all Chipotle's attempts to sell itself as a sustability savior, the real sustainable food movement sees that their interests lie more with the diligent efforts of a grassroots organization of immgrant farmworkers than with the self-serving PR claims of a fast-food corporation. While Chipotle can remain a stubborn holdout against working with the CIW, it cannot expect those who believe in a just and sustainable food system to languish with it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Be at this HUGE event to support Immigrant Rights!

On June 13th, 2009 the United Families tour will stop in Colorado! United Families is a nationwide tour led by Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez to encourage Congress to pass just & humane immigration reform in 2009! In over 20 cities, families that suffer under our broken immigration policies have told their stories to thousands of onlookers, the media, and elected officials.
You have the opportunity to be a part of this historic tour and a part of the solution! On June 13th, Representative Gutierrez will partner with Representative Jared Polis to launch his summer United Families tour in Northglenn, Colorado. Colorado families will tell their immigration stories and Archbishop Chaput, Father Ames, Reverend Simpson, Imam Ali and other faith leaders will help us to understand how our faith calls us to respond. Finally, Representatives Polis and Gutierrez will explain what action congress can take and how YOU can help.
Please save the date for this historic event as faith leaders, community members and Congressional champions for immigration reform join to demonstrate the urgency of fixing our broken immigration system.
We invite YOU and 2,000 of your closest friends to attend this powerful event!
June 13th, 2009! 1:00 PM, Doors Open at 11:30 AM!
RSVP to the Office of Congressman Polis @ 303-484-9596!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Parish Center, 11385 Grant St., Northglenn, CO

To volunteer to help make this event a success email!

To volunteer specifically for security email or attend this training!
Wear Red! Training for Security & Marshals!
For the Familias Unidas in Northglenn on June 13th!
No experience necessary! Support your Immigrant Justice Movement!
Security Training is Thursday, June 11th, 2009 6:00 pm at CIRC! (3131 W 14th Ave, Denver)
Spread the word & bring a friend!
Spanish language ability is desired but not required. There have been very few provocateurs at past immigrant rights marches in Denver. However, we will be stepping up security and marshalling, having YOU is extremely important to demonstrate that we take care of our event participants.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Migrant Trail Thanks YOU!

Thanks to the generous donations from all the folks at Spirit of Christ, Terri & Cindy with St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, Mark O’Brien, Paul & Janet Carpenter, Mimzy with the Glennon Heights Mennonite Church, and many many others, the magnificent Tom Kowal will be driving your much appreciated supplies to Arizona for the Migrant Trail Walk!
If you STILL want to support the visionary message of the Migrant Trail Walk and other amazing boarder work consider donating Medical Supplies or Funds to purchase an off road vehicle for No More Deaths!
And read below for coverage of deaths along the border that YOUR donations are helping to PREVENT! Read the article online

This is Maureen Marx from No More Deaths Tucson. We are gearing up for our summer program of a 24/7 presence in the desert, trail-walking, food and water drops and medical care at our camp medical clinic. Here on the border, we are still seeing some migrants in desperate condition with severe dehydration, blisters, broken bones, lacerations and infections. I am new to NMD and have taken on the task of procuring medical supplies and am coming to you with a request. Would you and your Denver group be willing and able to
gather some much needed medical supplies and send them on to us? A wish list is enclosed.
Would you email me and let me know whether the Denver group can do this? If you can do this project, please send the supplies to me at the following address.
Maureen Marx
4902 E. 12th St
Tucson, AZ 85711
Looking forward to hearing from you,
First Aid Supplies Needed for NMD Field work summer 2009
• Oral Rehydration salts / Pedialyte
• **OTC medications: Tylenol, anti-diarrheals, Pepto-Bismol tablets, benadryl, throat lozenges, ointments and salves for pain and inflammation, lip balm
• *Adult care wipes/wet wipes large and portable packages
• *Ace wraps (all sizes)
• *Instant cold packs,
• *Moleskin / Surgical foam tape for blisters
• *Silvadene or similar cream/powder
• *Tagaderm / Duoderm / Second Skin
• *Bacitracin / antibiotic ointments
• Bandage scissors / tweezers
• Tape / Coban wrap
• Non-occlusive dressings
• Telfa / Non-stick dressings
• Hand sanitizer (large and portable sizes)
• Aloe gel
• Universal splints (such as SAM splints)
• Foot care: moleskin, liquid bandage, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads and gauze rolls, telfa pads, coban adhering wrap, tape, nail clippers
• Ankle/joint care: ace wraps (various sizes), lidocaine spray, sports tape, instant cold packs, splints, triangular bandages,
• Wound care: bandages, gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, gauze rolls, tape, wet wipes, prep pads, liquid bandage (spray or brush on)
• Heat Injury: instant cold packs, Rehydration salts, wet wipes, misting spray bottles, aloe gel
First Aid Kits will be carried and used in the field by No More Deaths volunteers who are medical professionals (MD / RN / LPN) or trained and certified first responders (WFR / EMT)
*-These items are especially needed in large quantities
**-Single-use sizes to send with patients are very useful

Dear Friend of Migrants:
No More Deaths, founded in the Fall of 2003, works to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative: the conviction that people of conscience must work openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights. We have hosted and trained thousands of volunteers to provide aid to migrants at our desert camps and border aid stations.
The desert is unforgiving and to do this important work, transportation is imperative. We are committed to reaching remote parts of the Arizona backcountry accessible only by rough "roads" on which even the Border Patrol dislikes driving. Therefore, we are asking for your support in purchasing an off-road vehicle to be used in accessing these rough “roads,” as well as for transporting volunteers to desert camps and border aid stations.
We believe it is essential to be able to provide hu¬manitarian aid to people regardless of their citizenship or legal status. Our work is done with transparency and integrity. We hope to see the end of the deadly economic and border policies soon–but we will con¬tinue to provide aid until there are no more deaths.
Thank you for your generous support!
The Volunteers of No More Deaths Tucson and the Migrants Served
Help make our humanitarian effort more effective…..
This special donation given to No More Deaths goes to support humanitarian aid efforts in the desert and on the border through purchase of an off-road vehicle.
One Time Gift ™ $ 25 ™ $ 50 ™ $ 75 ™ $ 100 ™ Other $¬¬¬¬________
Monthly Pledge Gift $__________ for ______ months
City____________________ State_______ Zip____________
Email _______________________________________________
Checks should be mailed to and made payable to: Unitarian Uni¬versalist Church of Tucson (Memo: No More Deaths/Off-road vehicle), PO Box 40782, Tucson, AZ 85711. For more information, call 520-495-5583 or

Death count rises with border restrictions
Officials: Crossers now trek farther to dodge security
By Brady McCombs, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.17.2009
Illegal border crossers face a deadlier trek than ever across Arizona's desert.
The risk of dying is 1.5 times higher today compared with five years ago and 17 times greater than in 1998, the Arizona Daily Star's border-death database shows.
That's a significant increase considering the initial spike of deaths in Arizona occurred in 2000-02.
Through the first seven months of fiscal year 2009, there were 60 known deaths per 100,000 apprehensions in the area covered in the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson Sector. That's up from 39 known deaths per 100,000 apprehensions in 2004.
The increased risk of death parallels the historic buildup of agents, fences, roads and technology along the U.S.-Mexico border, calling into question one of the Border Patrol's mantras that a "secure border is a safe border."
Even with 3,300 agents, 210 miles of fences and vehicle barriers, and 40 agents assigned to the agency's search, rescue and trauma team, Borstar, illegal immigrants are still dying while trying to cross the Border Patrol's 262-mile-long Tucson Sector.
Border county law enforcement, Mexican Consulate officials, Tohono O'odham tribal officials and humanitarian groups say the buildup has caused illegal border crossers to walk longer distances in more treacherous terrain, increasing the likelihood that people will get hurt or fatigued and left behind to die.
"We are pushing people into more deadly areas," said Kat Rodriguez, coordinating organizer for Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a Tucson-based group that tracks the deaths. "When enforcement goes up, death goes up. We've been saying that for years."
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada and Sgt. David Noland, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office search and rescue coordinator, say body recoveries in their counties show that people are trekking through increasingly remote areas.
The Border Patrol doesn't stop anyone from coming; it only shifts the locations where they cross, said Rev. Robin Hoover, president of Tucson-based Humane Borders. His group's maps show that bodies are being found farther away from principal roads and water sources each year.
"The presence of the Border Patrol makes the average migrant hungrier, thirstier, more tired and sicker," Hoover said.
Border Patrol officials point to their rescue efforts as evidence that their presence prevents deaths rather than causes them.
"Our presence is greater; we are getting to these people sooner," said Robert Boatright, deputy chief of the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector. The agency rescued 160 people through mid-May, compared with 151 at the same time last year.
He attributes the continued rise in deaths to better recovery methods and more thorough record-keeping.
"When somebody loses a loved one, a lot of times we're getting better information back and going back and finding those," Boatright said.
The agency concentrates its agents and rescue teams in the desert west of Sasabe, where most of the bodies are found, to move them out of the most dangerous areas, he said.
"I'm not driving them to a more hazardous location," he said. "I'm driving them toward Nogales." Flawed statistics
Nobody knows exactly how many people try to cross the border illegally through Arizona.
There is no magic laser counter strung across the U.S.-Mexico border, and no agency estimates how many people get past the Border Patrol.
That leaves the Border Patrol's apprehensions as the best, albeit flawed, indicator of the flow of illegal immigrants.
It's flawed because apprehensions represent an event, not a person, and don't distinguish whether someone has been caught once or multiple times.
The apprehension figures show a clear downward trend in the Tucson Sector, the busiest on the Southwest Border, with the captures dropping 35 percent from 491,771 in 2004 to 317,696 in 2008. This year's numbers through April are down 31 percent from the same time in 2008.
The Border Patrol points to the gradual decrease as evidence that fewer are crossing. That theory is backed by several other indicators of a slowdown, including Mexican census data that show fewer people are leaving the country.
Yet the number of bodies found hasn't followed that downward slope.
The body count has remained in the same range between 2004 and 2009, yo-yoing between 180 and 230 per fiscal year, the Star border-death database shows.
The bodies of 86 illegal border crossers have been discovered from the beginning of fiscal year 2009 - Oct. 1 - through April, compared with 75 at the same time last year. The hottest and most deadly months for migrant deaths are still to come.
The Arizona Daily Star's border-death database only goes back to October 2004, but using the Border Patrol's death totals, which have long undercounted the number of deaths, the risk of dying has increased 17 times, from three per 100,000 apprehensions in 1998 to 51 per 100,000 apprehensions in 2009.
But Dr. Bruce Parks, chief medical examiner at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner, cautions that the yearly counts may not accurately represent that year's total, because many in recent years have been skeletal remains that could be people who died in previous years.
Each year since 2004, the total number of bodies found in the form of skeletal remains has accounted for a larger percentage of the total, increasing to 25 percent in 2009 from 4 percent in 2004, the Arizona Daily Star database shows.
Even without the skeletal remains, though, the number of bodies found per 100,000 apprehensions has increased from 38 in 2004 to 50 in 2009.
And some of the people found as skeletal remains could have died months earlier within the same year, especially if death occurs in the summer, when heat speeds up decomposition, said Jerónimo Garcia, a representative of the Mexican Consulate in Tucson who handles the identification and coordination of the remains.
Skeleton found in August
One of the skeletons found in 2008 was the remains of Juana Pastrana Villanueva, a 57-year-old woman from Acapulco.
On Aug. 6, 2008, her remains were found about 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, in the northern part of the Tohono O'odham Reservation.
A jacket near the body contained the identification of a man from Acapulco. When Mexican officials contacted his family, they said he was alive in the United States.
He told them the body was Pastrana's.
He left his ID in that pocket because Pastrana wasn't carrying any ID, and he wanted to make sure her family knew she was dead. He knew authorities would call his family.
Pastrana was supposed to cross the border somewhere north of Altar, Sonora, around mid-July of 2008.
Her remains were found three weeks later southwest of Casa Grande. She likely walked for at least six days to get there, or she might have been picked up and driven north before being dropped off again, Garcia said. The medical examiner determined Pastrana died of hyperthermia, or heatstroke, the most common cause of deaths among illegal border crossers discovered in Arizona.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or
Read the article online

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Tuesday, May 5 – Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Urge President Obama to grant TPS for Haitians

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Your five minutes of solidarity with Haiti can make the difference! Please call President Obama and urge him to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States.

Given the devastating and overwhelming conditions in Haiti, TPS is the most immediate form of humanitarian assistance the United States government can provide. The U.S. government has granted TPS to nationals from other countries that face significant hardship and suffering.

Storms and hurricanes in Haiti have left scores of people dead, an estimated one million families and children homeless, and destroyed local crops needed for food. Presently 70% of the Haitian people are unemployed, while still others wait for relief and assistance. Deporting Haitians in the United States by not granting TPS aggravates the island’s political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis. Please call today!

 Step 1: Call 1-800-906-5989 to connect to the White House Comment Line. (Call time: Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm EST)

 Step 2: Speak to the operator and ask that your message be conveyed to the President. Urge President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status to our Haitian brothers and sisters. For sample comments see below.

Hello. My name is ____________ and I am from (city and state).

I urge President Obama to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in the United States.

I also urge the President to stop the deportation of Haitians. Deportations separate families and aggravate Haiti’s humanitarian crisis. It is time for the President to take action, and I look forward to his leadership. Thank you.

American Friends Service Committee
Project Voice Network -
1501 Cherry Street - Philadelphia, PA 19102 - (215) 241-7131
For further reading: http://www/

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dinner, Documentaries and Dialog: April 25th

Coloradan’s For Immigrant Rights presents . . .
. . . Dinner, Documentaries and Dialog

Bring your favorite dish to share for Potluck . . .
. . . stay for drinks, movies and discussion.

Saturday, April 25th
Sixth Avenue United Church of Christ
3250 E 6th Ave., Denver

2 great films exploring the impact of Globalization on the lives of Immigrants . . .

Global Banquet: The Politics of Food (30 min)
. . . exposes corporate globalization’s profoundly damaging effect on our food system, debunking several underlying myths about global hunger. It reveals how agribusiness and trade liberalization undercuts subsistence farmers – who in turn often migrate to work for low-wages as farm laborers in the US agricultural industry.

Morristown: In the Air and Sun (1 hr)
. . . is a working-class look at globalization. From the factories and fields of Morristown, Tennessee to the maquiladoras and hometowns of Mexico, the film weaves together the plight of immigrant workers and US workers in the face of globalization as they all fight for economic justice.

This event is a fundraiser for a Denver Caravan to the Unity March in Greeley (May 2). $5 suggested donation

Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, a project of AFSC. For more info contact: Jordan T. Garcia,, 303-623-3464.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Facts About Tuition Equity - In-State Tuition for Colorado Students

Dear Friend,
I wanted to give you on update on my tuition equity bill because there is a lot of misinformation about what SB09-170 does for our state. First and foremost, SB09-170 will not cost the state a cent. All state funding has been removed from the bill and undocumented students would not qualify for state need based financial aid or the Colorado Opportunity Fund and will pay approximately $2,500 more than legal citizens. This means the bill will actually bring in additional dollars for our higher education system.

SB09-170 clears up in-state tuition laws for all students. Children who:
1. Attend a Colorado high school for at least 3 years.
2. Graduate or acquire a GED from a Colorado high school.
3. Enroll in a higher education institution within 12 months of graduation.
4. Remain in good academic standing.
5. Are competent in the English language upon graduation from high school.
would qualify for in-state tuition.

Additionally, legal residents of the United States can domicile themselves in Colorado for at least 1 year to qualify for in-state tuition. Undocumented students will not have this option.

It is estimated that about 200 to 400 undocumented students a year would qualify for SB09-170. University of Northern Colorado, Colorado Mountain College, and Mesa State College have all endorsed tuition equity because each of those schools has a very high percentage of in-state students.

Finally, these students will be required to sign an affidavit stating they will pursue citizenship upon graduation.

I have also heard many people argue the futility of educating illegal immigrants because legally, they cannot be hired by Colorado businesses. First of all, educating our residents is always beneficial to our society, regardless of employment status, and secondly, on the federal level, legislation will be introduced shortly that would remedy this concern. The DREAM Act, expected to be introduced in two weeks in Congress would grant conditional legal residency to these students, as long as they graduate from high school, are accepted by a college or the military, and stay out of trouble.

We are already funding undocumented students’ K-12 education (as federal law mandates), and we will be wasting this initial investment if we do not provide an opportunity for these students to pursue higher education and ultimately give back to the state. Undocumented students are currently ten times less likely to attend college and realizing this futility, often drop out during high school. Tuition equity is by no means a free pass to college. Instead, all SB 170 does is permit this portion of Colorado’s population to pay in-state tuition. These students will still have to apply and be accepted, so only qualified students will benefit from the bill’s passage.
SB 170 is a beneficial bill to the state of Colorado and all of its residents. That's why Republican businessmen such as Alex Cranberg and Dick Monfort support this legislation. Education officials, bussiness people, Republicans, and Democrats have all come together in favor of SB09-170 because it makes economic sense for Colorado.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope this helps you understand why I support tuition equity.

Chris Romer