Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Migration in Mexico: Roots, Realities, and Resistance

A Joint Witness for Peace/AFSC New Hampshire Delegation
February 25 to March 4, 2012
The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca is home to 16 different ethnic groups, making it one of the most diverse and culturally rich states in Mexico. But due to extreme inequality and misguided development policies, a large number of Oaxaqueños and Oaxaqueñas have migrated to other parts of Mexico and the US looking for economic survival. The effects on the families left behind, on migrants themselves, and on community life in Mexico and the U.S. raise many questions that we will address while in Oaxaca. The knowledgeable Witness for Peace Mexico Team has extensive connections to people, organizations, and communities who will tell us the real story of migration in Mexico.
What to Expect:
 Learn about the root causes of migration,
including US foreign policy in Latin America
 Hear stories of Central Americans migrating
through Oaxaca on their journey northward
 Learn about the connections between migration
and the drug trade
 See rural and urban projects that provide
alternatives to migration
 Learn about the history and resistance of
indigenous communities in Oaxaca
 Stay in the homes of families directly impacted by
 Connect delegation experience to the realities of trade and immigration in the US
 Develop strategies to act in solidarity with the Mexican people and immigrants in the US
$910 + airfare (includes the cost of food, lodging, in---country transportation, guides, and language interpretation. Scholarships and fundraising opportunities are available. ) For more information or to apply contact: Arnie Alpert, aalpert@afsc.org, (603) 224-2407
Witness for Peace (WFP – www.witnessforpeace.org) is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and practices which contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean. This trip is co--sponsored by the New Hampshire Program of the American Friends Service Committee.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reflections on the Intersections of Flawed Drug and Immigration Policies

The criminalization of immigrants continues to reach new heights and enforcement programs expand and justify themselves in the mainstream by saying they are going after “criminals”. In CFIR we have been having some intense discussion on challenging this view that it is ok to target and deport people labeled as “criminals”. The discussion has been challenging at times because there is often pressure both within and outside the movement to highlight the worthiness of “good immigrants”. This perspective ignores that more and more basic activities (like working and driving) have been criminalized, that all groups of people have members who engage in a range of activities and that people should not be labeled and targeted their whole lives for a misstep.

To help us explore this issue of criminalization and how to counter it, last week we brought in Art Way from the Drug Policy Alliance to discuss the intersection between flawed drug and immigration policies. We explored how
labels have been used to dehumanize both immigrants and people who use drugs (words like: “Illegal” and “addict”). We explored how militarization of the drug war is deeply connected to militarization of the border. The eighteen participants in the skill share found it powerful to learn about how historically drug laws have mirrored immigration law to maintain power and are not actually about the substance or “public safety”. Drug laws were targeted against different immigrant and ethnic groups (e.g. anti-opium den laws targeted Chinese immigrants and anti-marijuana laws targeted Mexican workers). Both immigration and drug laws throughout the US’s history have criminalized everyday behavior, but are selectively enforced and target only certain populations for doing these things. The fact that people of color comprise 13% of drug use, but are 78% of drug convictions deeply highlights this point. Tens of thousands of legal residents and other noncitizens are deported every year on drug-related grounds. In 2010, 25% of all deportations of people with criminal records were for drug charges of which the vast majorities were due to minor possession of marijuana. Deportees often are held in for profit detention centers miles away from family members without adequate due process for a drug conviction that may have occurred years ago. The disproportionate emphasis placed on targeting illicit drug use and distribution in communities of color and urban environments where noncitizens are concentrated increases the likelihood of interaction with law enforcement authorities. The imposition of drug sweeps and zero tolerance policies in schools, drug-free zones and the high prevalence of public drug selling invite a heightened law enforcement presence in communities of color, where noncitizens reside in great numbers. Once a noncitizen enters the criminal justice system, there is a substantial risk that the outcome of prosecutorial proceedings will have immigration consequences.

We ended the discussion with what we can do to make change. This discussion included looking internally and addressing the shame and stigma around drug use; to support drug policy based on science compassion, human rights and health; educating ourselves and others on the consequences of guilty pleas for deportation and push for pre-plea judicial programs and paying a fine for drug use rather than criminal conviction; raise awareness around drug propaganda; work to end the war on drugs and militarization of the border.

-Gabriela Flora, American Friends Service Committee
To learn about our future skill shares and other activities, please visit us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/AFSC-Coloradans-for-Immigrant-Rights/113045722068217