The Reality of Detention

Immigration and civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Border Patrol in June 2015 asserting that detainees have endured abhorrent conditions while in short-term detention facilities. Now, recently released photos and expert testimony offer persuasive evidence supporting these claims.

In mid-August, Federal District Court Judge David C. Bury, presiding over the class-action suit Doe v. Johnson accusing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of human right violations in Arizona’s southeastern sector, released expert testimony and video stills documenting the appalling and unacceptable conditions in short-term detention centers there. He struck down a motion by CBP to withhold the evidence from the public, finding for the plaintiffs and the Arizona Republic who argued for First Amendment access to court proceedings and government practices.

The still images—screenshots taken from thousands of hours of surveillance footage collected last fall—show overcrowded cells while others are empty, migrants huddled under thin thermal blankets on the floor, a mother using the same sort of blanket as protection from the cold concrete as she changed her baby’s diaper. The cells in which these migrants are detained were not designed to hold people indefinitely—they have concrete floors, no beds, cold temperatures, lights on continually—and Border Patrol policy dictates that detainees cannot be held in them for more than 12 hours. Yet records show that they are held for days at a time in harsh and inhumane conditions before being deported or transferred to long-term facilities to await court proceedings (often expedited through Operation Streamline) and likely deportation.

The experts who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs offered testimony that corroborates the conclusions drawn from these disturbing photos. Former Secretary for the Washington State Department of Corrections Eldon Vail reported that the conditions were “unnecessarily harsh, dangerous and contrary to accepted practices and standards.” Forensic sanitarian Robert W. Powitz submitted that “the unclean, unhygienic and unduly cold conditions in which people are held…serves no legitimate purpose and creates an unjustifiable risk of harm to detainees.”

Sadly, the deplorable conditions of these detention centers come as no surprise to the staff of the KBI. The migrants at the comedor and shelter share their stories of the crossing, apprehension at the border and elsewhere, the detention experience, and deportation—the entire journey often riddled with indignities and outright abuses. The KBI has been collecting this data since its inception in 2008, and contributed to and co-published two reports detailing the findings. (Please see: http://www.jesuit.org/jesuits/wp-content/uploads/Kino_FULL-REPORT_web.pdf and http://jesuits.org/Assets/Publications/File/REPORT_2015_Our_Values_on_the_Line.pdf. )

The testimonies of migrants at the KBI confirm the recently released evidence of the lawsuits and highlight urgent concerns for immigration policy more broadly. Specifically, inadequate legal representation as well as expedited prosecutions (wherein as many as 80 cases are processed in an afternoon) mean that migrants are criminalized without considering the reasons for their migration or their eligibility for asylum. And family separation continues to be a heartbreaking outcome for so many detained individuals. The KBI continues to address these various issues through advocacy, education and research. In the meantime, raising the standards in short-term detention facilities and requiring accountability—potential outcomes if the lawsuit is successful—is a critical step in creating a more humane and just immigration system.

MORE INFORMATION: The lawsuit was filed by The American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP. For more details about the released photographs and testimony, please see the following links:

Embed from Getty Images.Mexican migrants wait in a holding cell at the U.S. Border Patrol detentions center in Nogales, AZ. Though these cells are meant to house people for a few hours to half a day, many individuals are held for several days. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

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The Problems with Prison Privatization

The U.S. Department of Justice made a landmark announcement in August–they will phase out private prisons, which house the majority of non-citizens convicted of federal crimes and are known for their substandard conditions, over the next five years.

Since the 1990s, two major legal changes have caused U.S. prison populations, already the largest per capita in the world, to escalate dramatically. The first was a crime bill signed into law by President Clinton, which increased the number of drug-related prosecutions. The second, some years later, was the criminalization of immigration offenses—illegal entry and re-entry into the U.S., once handled as civil matters, have been increasingly prosecuted as federal crimes. To house the rising number of inmates—and with the goal of keeping costs down—the U.S. government contracted with private corrections companies, opening thirteen privately operated facilities since 1996, eleven of which are used exclusively for non-citizens. With the Department of Justice’s recent decision to phase out private prison contracts, these correctional facilities, approximately one-eighth of the federal prison system, will be closed within the next five years.

Why are non-citizen inmates relegated to these private prisons? In large part, it is because one key area of cost-cutting is in training programs and support services for re-entry into society once a prisoner’s time is served. Since non-citizens are there for immigration crimes, the majority will be deported to home countries upon release. (Note: The Department of Homeland Security also engages private corrections companies to operate immigration detention facilities—the same companies that manage the private prisons, in fact—but these are a separate, though related, system from the federal prisons overseen by the Bureau of Prisons.)

Overall, the economic cutbacks in private prisons have contributed to substandard conditions, poor staffing, and inferior medical care, the latter of which is responsible for numerous inmate deaths and four riots (spurred by protests about unaddressed medical complaints). Though these failures have been well-documented over the years and some constitute human rights violations, a year-long probe and report by the U.S. Inspector General found that for-profit prisons are more dangerous than government-run facilities and has prompted overdue action and the DOJ’s announcement. At the same time, Jeh C. Johnson, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a memo calling for a full review of immigration detention facilities with an eye toward moving in the same direction. That report is due at the end of November.

These long-recognized failures of private prisons have come about for a range of reasons. Here are some of the factors:

The Bottom Line: The U.S. government frequently engages the private sector for various projects, for both economic and expediency reasons. In the case of private federal prisons, cost-cutting was the primary motivation to contract with private correction companies who are accustomed to minimizing expenditures in order to maximize profit. This goal inherently contradicts providing quality programs and services. Short cuts, indefinitely postponed repairs, understaffing, undertraining, and subcontracting for substandard medical care become common practice. And since there is no larger marketplace to keep such unethical practices in check (more about monitoring by the U.S. government, below) and demand quality services and programs (see “Lower Standards,” below), shareholders are served while inmates suffer. Economically speaking, the private sector is exactly the wrong realm in which to entrust human beings while demanding low cost, and it’s not surprising that federal prisons run by the U.S. government exhibit more acceptable conditions and have more comprehensive programming and services.

Lower Standards: The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) requires government-run prisons to meet standards stipulated in “program statements.” These statements lay out hundreds of rules regarding staffing, meal schedules, medical care, etc. that public federal prisons must follow. In contrast, only a few dozen program statements apply to private prisons, another cost-saving measure that results in lower standards across the board. In the area of medical care, for example, private prisons often engage vocational nurses, who have one year of training, to diagnose and treat inmates when a doctor or nurse practitioner would be called for. In this, ten private prisons were found to have violated state practice laws in hiring low-level medical professionals to operate outside their scope of practice. In one prison, an inmate complained of head pain on 18 occasions; each time, he was seen by low-level medical staff, prescribed Tylenol, and returned to his cell. When he finally collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital, he was diagnosed with AIDS-related ailments, from which he died some days later. According to BOP rules, HIV testing for all inmates is compulsory, and several medical reviewers concurred that had the inmate been tested as required, he would be alive today.

No Facility Uniformity: Three correction companies—Corrections Corporation of America, Geo Group, and Management and Training Corporation—manage the 13 private prisons in the BOP system, but none of these prisons, even those operated by a single company, resemble each other or employ uniform design standards for their structures. Instead, the companies find facilities they can convert to prison use. And so, one prison houses inmates in large Kevlar fabric tents, another in bunk beds arranged a few feet apart, still another in an adapted Air Force base and adjacent hotel. The result is often inferior cell conditions and overcrowding.

Conflicts of Interest: Contracts are enforced with on-site monitors who report violations of the already minimal standards private correction companies must meet, with more formal inspections every 6–12 months. These on-the-ground monitors have reported ongoing problems and violations for years, often recommending steep fines. However, the BOP has frequently reduced or excused these fines, even renewed contracts for failing facilities that should have been shut down. A likely reason is the close ties between the BOP and the private prison industry, which often hires former BOP officials at very attractive private-sector salaries. This failure to impose fines and close facilities has left underlying profit motives unchecked and unacceptable prison conditions unaddressed.

Separation from Family and Community: In 2015, more than 70,000 people were charged with illegal entry or re-entry, representing about half of all federal prosecutions. Currently, somewhere between 40 and 50% of the 22,000 prisoners incarcerated in privately operated federal prisons are non-citizens. In addition to suffering the harsher conditions of private prisons disproportionately, these foreign-born inmates are frequently more isolated from their families and communities than their U.S.-born counterparts. The families of non-citizen inmates are frequently in other countries and so cannot visit, support or advocate for them. Often, families are not even aware of their loved one’s status or well-being. In one tragic story, an immigrant inmate’s family did not hear news of his death for a year, and did not learn that the young man had committed suicide until a journalist contacted them while researching an article.

The decision to close private federal prisons is good news for civil rights, human rights, and migrant rights advocates as well as for the inmates themselves and taxpayers who have paid for two decades of failed prison privatization. Over the next five years, as contracts lapse and privately-run institutions close, the BOP could follow some of the recommendations put forth in a 2014 report from the American Civil Liberties Union—strengthen oversight and publicly post inspection results; set reasonable phone rates for inmates to communicate with their families; eliminate quotas designed to fill beds; end discrimination against non-citizen inmates with respect to work, education and programming opportunities; and allow non-governmental agencies and the media access to facilities, so that public opinion can contribute to making private corrections companies accountable.

MORE INFORMATION: For more background on the history of private prisons in the U.S. and the conditions in these facilities, please see the following:

Embed from Getty Images.Protesters gather in front of GEO Groups headquarters in Florida to condemn the company’s active lobbying efforts to criminalize and imprison immigrants and people of color in order to make a profit from their imprisonment. May 2015. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

 

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KBI September Announcements

This month, we welcome new staff members, invite you to a Tucson fundraiser, and provide information about a concert series benefitting refugees.

  • New KBI Staff: The Kino Border Initiative is pleased to welcome two new staff members. Jorge Arturo Capistran, a Jesuit in formation, is the new Assistant to the Director of Programs in Mexico, and Sister Maribel Lara Hernández, M.E. joins the staff as Volunteer Coordinator.
  • October Fundraiser: Save the date now and join us in Tucson to raise funds for the KBI! Board member Larry Hanelin, the KBI’s volunteer photographer, and his wife Rosemarie will host an afternoon fiesta on Sunday, October 16, 2016, from 4:00–6:30pm. Contact Ivette Fuentes at the KBI to receive an invitation: ifuentes@kinoborderinitiative.org. And look for more information in the October newsletter and online at https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org.
  • JRS/USA Concert Series: Jesuit Refugee Service/USA has organized a series of October concerts to raise awareness about the worldwide refugee crisis and benefit refugee education. The headliners for “Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees” are: Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, and The Milk Carton Kids. For more information and the concert schedule, go to: http://jrsusa.org/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20160906095700.

 

Sister Maribel Lara Hernández, M.E. joins the KBI staff as Volunteer Coordinator.

Sister Maribel Lara Hernández, M.E. joins the KBI staff as Volunteer Coordinator.

 

Jorge Arturo Capistran is the KBI’s new Assistant to the Director of Programs, Mexico.

Jorge Arturo Capistran is the KBI’s new Assistant to the Director of Programs, Mexico.

 

Fr. Sean addresses those gathered at last year’s Tucson fundraiser. Photo by Larry Hanelin.

Fr. Sean addresses those gathered at last year’s Tucson fundraiser.
Photo by Larry Hanelin.

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Supporting Refugees Worldwide

Lend your voice and support to these worthy efforts from Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the International Rescue Committee on behalf of refugees throughout the world.

World Humanitarian Day serves as a reminder to support refugees and displaced people across the globe. Photo courtesy of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

World Humanitarian Day serves as a reminder to support refugees and displaced people across the globe.
Photo courtesy of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

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Immigration in the News

Among the immigration headlines this month are stories about border life; the positive impact of immigrants in the U.S.; dangers faced by migrants on the road and in detention; the issues involved in identifying migrants who have died on the journey; the need for children to have legal representation in immigration court; the deportation experience of an undocumented young man raised in the U.S.; and two inspiring art projects.

Embed from Getty Images. Since 2004, more than half of immigrant children who did not have lawyers have been deported. Photo by Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images.

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The Artists Have Their Say

Visual and performance artists as well as writers and poets have much to contribute to our considerations of the border and migrant experience. Through their various art forms, they approach these subjects in a different manner than policy makers or advocates, touching our hearts and minds with their messages. 

The migrant experience, exile, and border life have long been rich subjects for artists and writers. Weaving together materials and images, language and music, choreography and conscience, these creative groups and individuals make strong and moving statements about migrant rights, loss of family members and connections, and in our current political climate, the urgent need for change to address the worldwide immigration crisis. Here is a sampling of various works, intimate and large-scale, local and international.

Visual Arts: Mexican-born, San-Francisco-based artist Ana Teresa Fernández and volunteers have painted sections of the border fence blue for her project Borrando la Frontera/Erasing the Border: http://anateresafernandez.com/1718-2/. Also using the fence as a canvas, United World College students from several countries crossed the U.S.–Mexico border earlier this year to turn a stretch of it into a massive mural: https://vimeo.com/158498038. At La Melgosa (an art space at 1026 Grand Ave, Phoenix, AZ), a 100-foot mural, designed by artist Mata Ruda and painted by local artists, activists and community members, draws attention to the tragic loss of life at the U.S.-Mexico border: http://www.blogher.com/mural-missing (English) or http://www.redfinancieramx.mx/index.php/internacional/item/20298-mural-en-phoenix-muestra-tragedia-de-miles-de-migrantes-muertos-en-desierto (Spanish). Oakland-based artist/activist Favianna Rodriguez uses butterfly imagery and metaphor of rebirth in her powerful projects about human rights and migration: http://endlesscanvas.com/?tag=immigration-issues. And in Saint Petersburg, Russia, street artists offer vibrant commentary on the global migration crisis in an exhibit called Crossing Borders/Crossing Boundaries, installed at and around an abandoned plastics factory: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jaime-rojo-steven-harrington/rafael-schacter-street-art-museum-russia_b_11066158.html. Working in a different format, graphic designer Karla Blanca Equeda, based in San Luis Potosí, conveys messages in a smaller, but no less, impactful, format: https://www.behance.net/gallery/36777043/Carteles-part1.

Dance: Many choreographers and dancers have incorporated themes of migration, separation and longing into their work. In Box Migration, a section of the larger piece Speak, Angels, choreographed by Janice Garrett and Charles Moulten, the dancers seem to create a wall with their bodies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2q_BtjtdDU. La danza de Fernando, choreographed by David Fernandez and presented at the New York Latin Choreographers Festival, presents another border scenario: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNmTJw8Z7Xw. And Hogar, choreographed by Ballet Hispánico’s Artistic Director and CEO Eduardo Vilaro and performed by that world-renowned company, conjures notions of isolation, connection, flight and sanctuary: https://vimeo.com/96588676 (password: bhdance).

Music: An example of the power of music, the Chicago-based Mariachi Monumental de Mexico with singer Jesús Ramos play the Star Spangled Banner to open a local sports event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKfSBEeIho8. Columbian-American singer/songwriter La Muna (Natalia Serna who spent a year working with the KBI) uses her music to offer solace to migrants and speak to their plight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLeDcYa79Zc. And in another genre and context, the Silk Road Ensemble, founded by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 2000, endeavors to awaken curiosity, compassion and connection among the peoples of the world through their music. Enjoy a selection of their performances here: https://www.youtube.com/user/silkroadproject.

Poetry: Written in 1939 in response to the antagonism and indifference faced by Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, W. H. Auden’s Refugee Blues is still relevant today: https://allpoetry.com/Refugee-Blues. Addressing more recent history, poet Marcel Hernandez Castillo, who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a child and is now among those granted deportation relief through Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA), turns to poetry to express his feelings about being undocumented, examine issues of identity, and critique how immigration is treated by governments and the media: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/poetry/how-poetry-helped-marcelo-hernandez-castillo-speak-out-on-immigration/. And a cellphone app combining GPS technology and poetry offers both navigation to water sources and lyrical advice to people crossing the treacherous desert borderlands: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/transborder_immigrant_tool_series_poetry_survival_us_mexico_border_20160808.

Collaborations: Border issues have often inspired artists from different genres to come together. In Fatal Migrations, writer Daniel Alarcón and data artist Josh Begley honor the tragic deaths at the border in a stark, yet moving, interactive project of aerial images depicting places where lives were lost: https://theintercept.com/2016/06/04/fatal-migrations/. Now on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, DeLIMITations: A Survey of the 1821 United States–Mexico Border by artists Marcos Ramirez ERRE (from Tijuana, Mexico) and David Taylor (from Arizona) documents the historical boundary between the two countries with photographs and video taken as the artists journeyed along the route from the Oregon Coast to the Gulf of Mexico, planting 47 steel markers along the way: http://www.mcasd.org/exhibitions/delimitations-survey-1821-united-states-mexico-border. Also, landscape photographer Richard Misrach and composer and performance artist Guillermo Galindo have published a book of their joint project, Border Cantos, reviewed in this issue of Passages, which include photographs, musical instruments made from found objects left behind by migrants, and online video performances of Galindo playing his compositions on those invented instruments.

A 100-foot mural in Phoenix, entitled Colibrí (Hummingbird), raises awareness about the migrants who have gone missing or died while crossing the Sonoran Desert.

A 100-foot mural in Phoenix, entitled Colibrí (Hummingbird), raises awareness about the migrants who have gone missing or died while crossing the Sonoran Desert.

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A Collaboration at the Border

In their recent book, Border Cantos, landscape photographer Richard Misrach and composer and performance artist Guillermo Galindo offer a visual and online audio reflection about the border through their respective media. Here is a review of their collaborative monograph by photographer and writer Karen Jenkins, with our thanks.

By Karen Jenkins

Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo first crossed paths in 2012 at the line between the United States and Mexico, as ramped-up border politics continued to exact a heavy toll in lives and the landscape, and the wall between there and here, them and us, felt more mute and impenetrable than ever. Border Cantos is the culmination of their subsequent artistic collaboration, building on Misrach’s photographic exploration of the American West and expanding Galindo’s work as a composer and performer. Galindo created musical instruments from objects left behind by migrants, and later gathered by Misrach. He also created musical scores using the photographer’s images of the vast border region as raw material and points of departure. Visual languages play off of sound and music in this multi-media project and texts are presented in English and Spanish, running parallel down opposite sides of each page. Separately and together, Misrach and Galindo’s work deftly reckons with both the powerful physicality of the wall and the artifacts that surround it, as well as the numerous conceptual ways into and through its politics, economics, ideologies and aesthetics.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

In sweeping, large format photographs, Misrach depicts the wall as seam and scar, stitched up and spiked, part and protrusion between two sides. Yet these are not necessarily views of an imposing obstacle (he points out that the wall is in fact, relatively easy to climb or circumvent). In shifting perspectives, this barrier is also seen as incomplete, nonsensical and inadequate. The obstacle is in the journey; approaching the wall and leaving it behind, passing through desolate, dangerous desert and mountains on either side of the line. Border control meticulously surveils this illicit movement, while migrants attempt to cover their tracks. Certain modes of this precarious symbiosis are decidedly low tech, such as the appropriation by border control of the Native American tracking technique “cutting for sign.” Old chains or tires are dragged along the loose desert surface to make unbroken gradations of sand or soil, against which footprints and signs of travel can be seen. Misrach photographed these discarded tools and their traces, along with those make-shift shoe coverings crafted by migrants to disguise and deflect. He and Galindo perceptively seize upon the symbolism of the tires—discarded, inert and stripped of their forward motion functionality—reemployed to monitor and thwart the movement of others. In the striations and disruptions captured in Misrach’s photographs, Galindo saw the language of music. He created musical scores inspired by these images and other natural forms in the border landscapes that give these lines new form and expression.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

A companion Border Cantos website contains videos of Galindo’s performances with the musical instruments created from objects left behind by anonymous migrants. He uses the loaded symbolism and intrinsic materiality of these finds to give voice and sound to those who took them on their border journeys. Josh Kun’s accompanying essays give rich context to the history of such reappropriation as a “strategy for cultural survival for the conquered and oppressed.” In book and website, we see Piñata de cartuchos (Shell Piñata), inspired by the West African gourd instrument, the shekeré. In Galindo’s version, shotgun shell casings collected at a Border Patrol shooting range replace the traditional sea shell covering, now hung off a spiky form inspired by a soccer ball found near the border. The casings are spent, and this ball won’t roll, but its sounds tell a new story. In Micro Orchestra, small belongings left behind by children become instruments in a tiny musical ensemble, with microphones used to amplify their diminutive sounds, while underscoring the failure to hear the voices of many thousands of kids who’ve made perilous border crossings. Misrach’s photographs of the same—mute, in situ—prime us for such a poignant reanimation.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

Human encounters in Misrach’s photographs are rare and mediated, through distance, or the slats of the wall. The scarecrow-like effigies he discovered in the desert are jarring in the immediacy of their anthropomorphic presence and uncertain purposes. With none of the stuffed-shirt optimism of a sentry standing guard over a farmer’s lush field, or the unyielding authority of a border guard, these migrant stand-ins assume dramatic poses of warning and a last stand. They also echo the splintered existence of the border-crosser, both rooted in place and propelled forward. Galindo’s companion piece, Efigie, and others in the series, tap into the history of relic veneration, both indigenous and imported, in his use of discarded personal belongings found along the border in the creation of musical instruments that reanimate highly charged objects. In Efigie, resonating pieces of wood form arms and legs, dressed with a hoodie and pants, in a stance that signifies both protest and surrender. Red stains and splatter cover white pants, suggesting flesh and sinew, and bloody violence. The figure is strung up and splayed open; the instrument strings stretch across its body. It’s pounded and plucked; a bow slices through to create its sound, its voice. This, and Border Cantos’ every echo and reverberation between image and sound, inert artifact and its kinetic reboot, insist upon a reckoning with the wall’s many dark iterations and legacy of loss.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Border Cantos

By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo.

Aperture, New York, USA, 2016. 274 pp.,

257 color illustrations, 13¼x10½”.

Available at: http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=DS614.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

Border Cantos. By Richard Misrach and Guillermo Galindo. Aperture, 2016.

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Jenkins earned a Master’s degree in Art History, specializing in the History of Photography from the University of Arizona. She has held curatorial positions at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ and the Demuth Museum in Lancaster, PA. Read more of Karen’s reviews at: http://blog.photoeye.com/search/label/Karen%20Jenkins.
 
NOTE: This review first appeared on photo-eye’s blog on May 23, 2016: http://blog.photoeye.com/2016/05/book-review-border-cantos.html.  It appears here with the kind permission of photo-eye and the author. For more information about this work in this volume and to view Galindo’s performances, please go to: http://bordercantos.com.

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KBI July Announcements

We share a recent U.S.-sponsored report about the deportation of potential asylum seekers back to their violent homelands, a crisis confirmed by the first-hand testimony collected at the KBI. In addition, we list the immersion groups who visited the KBI this summer, a KBI job opportunity, and information about an upcoming interactive event in Tucson, Stories from the Border, featuring journalists from Mexico and the U.S.

  • Report Confirms KBI Findings: A report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal, confirms what the KBI has also documented over years of migrant interviews—that migrants are being deported back to their dangerous home countries without exploration of their eligibility for asylum or an asylum hearing. Here is the KBI’s press release, summarizing the issues: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/report-indicates-asylum-seekers-deported-danger-without-hearing/. And here is the full report: http://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Barriers%20To%20Protection.pdf.
  • Summer Immersions: This summer, nine undertook KBI immersion experiences to learn more about the migrant experience and the reality of the border. We are grateful for their participation, commitment to immigration issues, and advocacy work they do in their communities, inspired by their immersion experiences.
Immersion Group # of participants # of days at the KBI
Saint Xavier High School
Cincinnati, OH
12 participants 6 days
Saint Ignatius High School

Chicago, IL

9 participants 7 days
Saint Ignatius High School
San Francisco, CA
11 participants 14 days
Salesianum High School
Wilmington, DE
10 participants 4 days
Jesuit Volunteer Corps
Tucson, AZ
12 participants 1 day
Georgetown Preparatory HS
Washington, D.C.
13 participants 5 days
Jesuit High School/Portland
Beaverton, OR
12 participants 4 days
Gonzaga High School
Washington, D.C.
12 participants 6 days
Jesuit Volunteer Corps
Tucson, AZ
10 participants 1 day

Stories from the Border: Don’t miss Community Interactive: Stories from the Border, a free event featuring a panel of noted journalists from Mexico and the U.S. and sponsored by Arizona Public Media and the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona. Attend in person at the Fox Theater in Tucson on Thursday, September 29, 2016, 6:30–8:00pm, or watch the program online (it will be streamed live and also available after the event). For more information, please go to: https://about.azpm.org/p/press-release/2016/8/2/92937-community-interactive-stories-from-the-border/.

During the summer months, many high schools and other groups (like the group from Georgetown Preparatory School, pictured here) participate in immersion experiences at the KBI.

During the summer months, many high schools and other groups (like the group from Georgetown Preparatory School, pictured here) participate in immersion experiences at the KBI.

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Support the Refugee Protection Act of 2016

In July, Congress introduced a bill to repeal some of the major barriers faced by refugees and asylum seekers as they pursue safety and protection in the U.S. The Refugee Protection Act of 2016 would increase protection of children and families as well as those facing gender-based persecution, and affirm the U.S. commitment to protecting and welcoming those who suffer persecution in their homelands.

Please join the KBI in supporting this new legislation by contacting your congressional representatives and adding your name to the online form provided by Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. Here is the link, with many thanks for your help in advocating on behalf of refugees and those in need of asylum: http://cqrcengage.com/jesuit/app/write-a-letter?4&engagementId=231633&lp=0.

Photo by Christian Fuchs. Courtesy of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Photo by Christian Fuchs. Courtesy of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

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Immigration in the News

This month, many immigration news reports focused on detention centers and the wide range of concerns associated with them—the quality of medical and mental health care, facility conditions, and the private management of these centers. In addition, there are stories about the challenges faced by undocumented children as well as information about migrant risks and deaths—in detention centers, near the U.S.–Mexico border, and throughout the world. Finally, watch the heartening welcome of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team at the opening ceremony.

 Refugee Olympic Team’s Rosie Lokonyen leads her delegation during the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, 2016.

Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

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