Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ICE Cold Hearts...Melted!

by Jordan T Garcia

On Monday, February 14th, 2011 at the Aurora Immigrant Detention Center, 475 handmade Valentines were delivered to 450 people unjustly interned by the state. An additional 50 cards were handed out to day laborers in Aurora. Thanks to you!

I spoke with a woman named Patricia in the detention center waiting area, as she waited to be allowed to see her husband and the father of her 3 year old before he signed his voluntary departure for his deportation. Her fierce strength gripped me in the moments she shared her struggle to explain to her daughter Alicia that she didn’t do anything wrong to keep her father away on Valentine’s day.

Later yesterday morning, Pedro, a carpenter and Day Laborer from Aurora, tucked a Valentine made by a 7 year old Bella inside his pocket. Among sheepish grins and somewhat deriding chuckles from fellow day laborers, though none were too shy to take a homemade Valentine of thier own, he explained. His son, in Oaxaca, was about the same age when Pedro left to come to the US four years ago to send money home to his parents, now raising his kids.

The Valentines you made touched hearts and shared strength. We are all made more whole knowing these stories of fierce love and unforgettable power.

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.

~ Che Guevara

Many people have told us that this Valentine project provided them with an opportunity to not only be creative, but also to be self reflective. To set aside feelings of frustration about political posturing and to put what LOVE they could into a simple beautiful card. To take just an hour or so to think about the experiences of immigrants in this country and to focus on the reasons we struggle for immigrant justice day in and day out.
A special thank you to all of the Valentine Artists, including but not limited to Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, Metro Organization for People, Melissa Nix, Nicki Gonzales & Tania Valenzulea and the Regis University Social Justice Students, Maria and the students at the Iliff School of Theology, Sister Alicia and St. Mary's Academy and Escuela de Guadelupe students, Harriet Mullaney’s English classes at Bruce Randolph School, and the attendants of Yolotzin (1st!) & Yvonne Sandoval’s birthday party. And another special thank you to Seth Donovan for making the arrangements with the Detention Center Staff.

On February 7th, 2011, over 150 hundred people gathered at the Aurora Detention Center to make their voices heard. The February monthly vigil was planned by Coloradans For Immigrant Rights, a project of AFSC and the Denver Justice and Peace Committee.
We invited Suzi Q Smith, a spoken word artist and slam poet whose poem is copied below, along with other poets such as Homero Ocon who shared their beautiful pieces. DJPC shared broken hearts concerning the roots of migration and participants shared the ways they will mend hearts in their own lives. We sang some love songs and chanted to the people interned inside.

We carried signs with our message including a large broken heart symbolizing how our broken immigration system keeps the United States apart from the rest of the world and the broken hearts of those families separated by borders and walls.

Some of the Valentine’s read like this: Dear Valentine, You are not alone. I hold you in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Love knows no borders or walls and together we can share each other’s strength and courage. I am with you in spirit on this Valentine’s Day. No estas sol@. Est@s presente en mi corazón, mis pensamientos y mis oraciones. El amor no reconoce fronteras ni muros. Juntos podemos compartir nuestr@ fuerza y valor. Mi espíritu está contigo en este Día de San.

Arizona vigilante found guilty of murdering Latino man, daughter

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 15, 2011 2:04 a.m. EST
(CNN) -- An Arizona jury on Monday convicted anti-illegal immigration activist Shawna Forde of murder in the killing of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter during a 2009 vigilante raid she led on their home.
The Pima County jury convicted Forde on eight counts, including two counts of murder for the shooting deaths of Raul Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, and the attempted murder of the child's mother, Gina Gonzales, at the family's rural Arivaca home on May 30, 2009.
The child and her father were American-born U.S. citizens.
The jury also convicted Forde on two counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of burglary, armed robbery and aggravated robbery.
The jury is scheduled to return Tuesday for the penalty phase of the trial.
Forde's alleged accomplices, Albert Robert Gaxiola and Jason Eugene Bush, are scheduled to go on trial later this year.
During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Forde as the ringleader of the hit squad, and said she had planned the raid and the murders to steal weapons, money and drugs to finance a new anti-illegal immigration outfit.
The trio picked the Flores home, prosecutors said, because of a claim made by Gaxiola they would find drugs there.
While Flores had a history of drug-related offenses, none were found in the house.
Posing as border patrol and law enforcement officers, Forde, Gaxiola and Bush, whom prosecutors identified as the gunman, showed up at the Flores home after midnight, several hours after the family had returned from a shopping trip in Tucson to buy shoes for their daughter for summer camp.
Brisenia Flores was sleeping on the couch with her puppy when the killers demanded to be let into the home. They accused Flores of harboring illegal aliens and said the house was surrounded by agents.
Once inside, the gunman shot Flores in the chest and Gonzales in the leg. Later Brisenia was shot as she pleaded for her life.
Jewelry taken from the Flores home was later found in Forde's possession. Text messages discovered on her phone also implicated her in the crime.
Forde once belonged to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps before she was removed for what former fellow members described as unstable behavior, according to news reports.
Forde then formed a splinter group, Minutemen aAmerican Defense. She led protests against illegal immigration and patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border armed with weapons.
Bush was the group's national director of operations, according to reports.