KBI Denounces Deportation of Guadalupe García De Rayos

Kino Border Initiative Denounces the Deportation of Guadalupe García De Rayos
La Iniciativa Kino para la Frontera Denuncia la Deportación de Guadalupe García De Rayos
Friday, February 10, 2017/Viernes, 10 de febrero de 2017

On Thursday, February 9, 2017, ICE deported Guadalupe García De Rayos to Nogales, Sonora after arresting her in Phoenix during her semi-annual check-in to request permission to remain in the U.S. Guadalupe first arrived at the Kino Border Initiative’s (KBI) comedor and then was referred to Nazareth House, the KBI’s shelter for women and children migrants.

El jueves, 9 de febrero de 2017, el ICE deportó a Guadalupe García De Rayos a Nogales, Sonora, México, después de detenerla en Phoenix durante su visita cada seis meses para solicitar permiso para seguir viviendo en los Estados Unidos. Guadalupe llegó primero al comedor de la Iniciativa Kino para la Frontera (IKF) y luego siguió a Casa Nazaret, el albergue de la Iniciativa Kino para mujeres y niños migrantes.

Later that same day, Guadalupe spoke powerfully of her love for and commitment to her U.S. citizen children: “I’m doing this for my kids so they have a better life. I will keep fighting so they can keep studying in their home country. We’re a united family. We’re a family who goes to church on Sundays.” Guadalupe’s son, Angel, expressed the deep pain he was experiencing by saying that “It’s a nightmare having your mother taken away from you.” Her daughter, Jacqueline, put into words what many separated family members feel: “We don’t deserve to go through this; no family deserves to go through this.”

Más tarde, ese mismo día, Guadalupe habló con mucha fuerza sobre su amor por y su compromiso a sus hijos, ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos, cuando dijo, <<Yo lo hago por mis hijos para que tengan una vida mejor. Voy a seguir luchando para que puedan seguir estudiando en su país. Somos una familia unida. Somos una familia que va a misa los domingos.>> Ángel, el hijo de Guadalupe, expresó el dolor profundo que experimentaba cuando decía, <<Es una pesadilla que te quiten tu mamá.>> Su hija, Jacqueline, manifestó en palabras lo que muchas familias separadas por su estatus migratorio sienten, <<No deberíamos estar pasando por esta experiencia; ninguna familia debería tener esta experiencia.>>

Guadalupe’s deportation makes visible the terrible reality of family separation which has taken place for many years due to a broken immigration system. We at the KBI regularly witness the pain and suffering that results from inhumane and unjust immigration policies. We call on the new Administration to protect family unity and respect the dignity of each individual. Guadalupe’s strength and courage motivate us as an organization to continue promoting immigration policies that address the root causes of migration: severe economic need, family separation and violence. We work for the day when families like Guadalupe’s will be able to stay together in the U.S. and contribute fully to the social fabric of the United States and to the common good.

La detención de Guadalupe visibiliza la realidad terrible de la separación familiar que ha estado pasando por muchos años a causa de un sistema de migración quebrantado. Nosotros en la Iniciativa Kino somos testigos del dolor y sufrimiento que son consecuencias de políticas migratorias injustas e inhumanas. Exhortamos a la nueva Administración a proteger la unidad familiar y el respeto por la dignidad de cada persona. La fuerza y la valentía de Guadalupe nos motiva como organización a continuar promoviendo por políticas migratorias que se dirigen a las causas fundamentales de la migración: necesidad económica, separación familiar y la violencia. Trabajamos por el día cuando familias como la de Guadalupe puedan quedar juntos en los Estados Unidos y aportar plenamente al tejido social de los Estados Unidos y al bien común.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

The First 10 Days

After the election, President Trump released a 100-day action plan outlining the future priorities of his administration, including rolling back immigrant rights. Within a week of taking office, he has acted on those directives.

On Friday, January 20, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. The following day, millions gathered at Women’s Marches in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country and globe to voice their support and solidarity for a range of issues under threat, among them immigrant rights. Since then, the new president has issued three immigration-related executive orders. The actions seek to build a U.S.–Mexico border wall, expand border enforcement, suspend the refugee program, withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities, and ban individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The KBI was swift in responding, and issued a press release affirming its commitment to migrants and refugees and support of a compassionate immigration policy, and denouncing the actions as divisive and inhumane. (Read the entire press release: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/kbi-responds-trumps-executive-order-calls-protection-human-dignity-border/.)

While news surrounding the executive orders is changing daily, if not hourly, here are summaries of public reactions and legal responses to the actions’ various provisions as of this writing, and updates about other immigration-related policy issues.

Border Wall and Enforcement: Following through on an early campaign promise, Trump issued an executive action to build a wall along the 2,000 mile border with Mexico, expand border enforcement by some 5,000 agents, and increase detention. Since filing the order, he has announced plans to deputize local police officers in borderland cities to enforce federal immigration law, relying on a pre-existing program instituted in 2009.  The likelihood of Congress approving the $15–20 million required to construct the wall is slim, but the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has accompanied this order is troubling.

Mexican President Peña Nieto has rejected Trump’s assertion that Mexico will pay for the wall, and canceled upcoming plans to visit the U.S., giving rise to concerns that even if the executive order does not result in a border wall, it has already damaged binational solidarity with Mexico and alienated a major U.S. trading partner. (In 2015, trade with Mexico totaled $16.8 billion in Arizona alone.) Many local leaders, business owners, landowners, and residents along the border contest the need for constructing a wall, and the Tohono O’odham nation whose lands straddle 75 miles of the border have declared that they will not permit it to be built. A plan to impose a 20% import tax to fund construction was floated, but does not appear to be viable.

Though the wall is a political long shot, increasing the border enforcement budget and the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents is a more achievable—and therefore, unsettling—prospect. According to KBI research in 2015, a third of the migrants who visited the comedor or stayed at the shelter reported instances of harassment or abuse while detained. In the last 14 months alone, the KBI has filed 45 abuse complaints on behalf of migrants. Posting more agents at the border, and in such a rash way, without first addressing training and accountability issues, potentially exacerbates abuse problems and diminishes security and safety for everyone.

Status of Refugees: One of the orders also suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for the next 120 days, and halted processing for Syrian refugees indefinitely. This is a shocking development, inconsistent with basic American values and the principles of the KBI, and poses further delays and obstacles for refugees who have the right to seek protection in the U.S. These individuals and families are fleeing for their lives from war, poverty and persecution, and are already subject to intensive United Nations screening and years-long waits for the mere chance of being resettled in the U.S. And while the U.S. resettles thousands of refugees each year, this represents a paltry 1% of 21.3 million refugees worldwide, half of whom are under the age of 18.

One executive order also calls for expedited processing of asylum claims and moving screenings and hearings to detention facilities. We already know this sort of fast-tracked processing results in overlooked or poorly considered asylum claims and the deportation of individuals and families back to the life-threatening situations they fled. These cruel and ill-conceived policies are not only a violation of refugee rights, but for some—we can’t know how many—a death sentence. Moving credible fear interviews and court resources to detention centers, where most individuals do not have access to legal representation and are often too frightened and traumatized to share their experiences, will only intensify these problems. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to win an asylum case from detention and without legal counsel.

Other concerns about these orders are: prioritizing criminal prosecution of border crossers who may be refugees, a violation of international law; detaining asylum seekers rather than continuing the practice of release while cases are pending; expanding “expedited removal” (one form of deportation) which means individuals could be deported before being given the opportunity to file and asylum claim; and further family separation, already a heartbreaking burden borne by so many immigrant families. For more information about the effects of the executive actions on women and children, see: https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/rights/gbv/resources/1422-10-things-to-know-about-how-trump-s-executive-order-will-harm-women-children-seeking-protection.

Sanctuary Cities: Since the election, a revival of the Sanctuary movement has been underway among houses of worship across the U.S., and many major cities—New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and others—have announced their solidarity with their undocumented immigrants by declaring themselves “sanctuary cities.” Trump’s border-related executive order includes a provision for suspending federal funds to “sanctuary jurisdictions.” It is unclear how this determination will be applied, but San Francisco has filed a lawsuit challenging the provision, and further legal action is likely.

Immigrant Travel Ban: Despite no fatal U.S. terrorist attacks attributable to immigrants from the countries targeted by this ban in over four decades, President Trump cited national security as the reason behind his executive order banning entry to citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. Also notable, none of the 9/11 hijackers were from these nations. Widely seen as evidence of religious discrimination, the order has resulted in hundreds of individuals with valid visas and green cards detained in airports throughout the U.S.

On the day following the action, two of these immigrants, both Iraqi refugees detained at JFK International Airport, became plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with other groups. The executive order was the only reason cited for detaining them.

Public outcry was immediate, not only in New York but at airports throughout the country where nationals from these countries were subjected to “extreme vetting” and the threat of deportation despite already meeting extensive criteria to obtain special immigrant visas and green cards. Thousands demonstrated in solidarity with immigrants against the ban, and countless lawyers offered their services free of charge. In addition, President Obama, several foreign leaders, U.S. diplomats, and many federal lawmakers, including some Republicans (Arizona Senators Flake and McCain among them), have announced their opposition to the travel ban. Within hours, a federal court judge in Brooklyn issued a temporary stay of the order in response to the ACLU’s complaint, a short-term measure applying only to those individuals recently arrived or in transit. A week later, a Seattle-based federal judge imposed a nationwide temporary injunction on the travel ban, permitting those with appropriate documents to enter the country for now. It is not clear how the implementation of this executive order or the ACLU lawsuit will play out in the coming weeks and months. And though the ban does not apply to the refugees aided by the KBI, it has implications for how the Executive branch may treat other immigrant groups in the future.

Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA): No action has been taken on endorsing, extending, or eliminating this relief program instituted by President Obama in 2012. DACA allows individuals who entered the country as children, often called DREAMers, to obtain renewable 2-year stays of deportation in order to study or work in the U.S. Since the election of Trump, program participants have been fearful of losing their DACA status, and these recent executive orders only heighten these worries.

If unchallenged, President Trump’s executive order to heighten border security, increase detention and build a wall will mean greater suffering for migrants crossing from Mexico to the U.S.
Photo by Larry Hanelin.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Andrea’s Story: Refugees Turned Away at the Border

Fleeing gang members who murdered her two sons, Andrea attempted to seek asylum in the U.S., but was denied entry multiple times before her asylum application was finally accepted. She is currently being detained at the Eloy Detention Center, awaiting her court date.

Like many people fleeing gang violence, Andrea suffered unspeakable losses at the hands of gang members who killed her sons. With her own life threatened, she escaped her native Guatemala with her friend Lisa (also in danger for helping Andrea; both names have been changed to protect their privacy), and undertook the perilous 2,000 mile journey through Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S. At the Tijuana–San Diego crossing, Andrea and Lisa sought entry twice, only to be told they lacked the proper paperwork and would have to return to Guatemala to obtain it. Instead, they traveled to Nogales to try again. There they met with the same bureaucratic obstacles, but sought the help of the KBI where they stayed at the women’s shelter and received assistance in filing a complaint against U.S. and Mexican authorities. Currently, Andrea and Lisa are being detained in Eloy as their asylum applications are processed.

Andrea’s story reflects the predicament thousands of refugees face at the border. Logistical red tape, overtaxed ports of entry, insufficient legal aid, and a lack of humanitarian priorities converge to create a refugee crisis within the broader context of unprecedented worldwide migration. For those refugees who come to the KBI, advocacy staff aid in harnessing resources—legal representation, interpreter services, communities of support—and navigating through the asylum application process. But the wider problem can only be addressed by changes in policy, which is why the KBI pursues research that documents the scope of the crisis and advocacy efforts that convey its urgency to lawmakers in Washington. Now, with the recent executive order increasing the obstacles to individuals seeking asylum, this work is more critical than ever.

Listen to Andrea’s story in her own words here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2pLrHa1OLw&feature=youtu.be. Her story is also profiled in this Washington Post (1/16/17) article about refugees blocked at the border: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/us-border-officials-are-illegally-turning-away-asylum-seekers-critics-say/2017/01/16/f7f5c54a-c6d0-11e6-acda-59924caa2450_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_mexicoborder-750pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.252bb9939b7a#comments. For more background on a complaint  filed by the KBI and other organizations, please see this press release from the American Immigration Council: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/news/complaint-filed-customs-and-border-protection-turns-away-asylum-seekers. And for information about how Trump’s executive orders will hurt women and children seeking protection, please read this document from the Women’s Refugee Commission: https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/rights/gbv/resources/1422-10-things-to-know-about-how-trump-s-executive-order-will-harm-women-children-seeking-protection.

Thousands of refugees are turned away at the U.S.–Mexico border without consideration of their claims.

Photo by Getty Images/AFP/Alfredo Estrella.

 

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Immigration in the News

As a new administration assumes power, the immigration-related media coverage this month is dominated by President Trump’s two executive actions calling for an immigrant ban, a temporary halt to the refugee program, increased border enforcement, and a border wall.

Demonstrators gather at Los Angeles International Airport to voice their concern about President Trump’s travel ban and support of immigrants and refugees.

Photo by Getty Images News/Bruce Bennett

 

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

KBI February Announcements

As the year commences, the KBI continues its education and advocacy work—hosting its annual youth summit and numerous immersions, visiting partner schools, presenting at conferences, and setting goals and planning strategy at a recent board meeting and a staff retreat. If you are in the area, please consider supporting these efforts by attending the Phoenix Dinner in March.

  • Second Annual Walking in Mercy Youth Summit: Sponsored by the KBI and the Kino Teens, this year’s summit is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, with about 70 students (three times last year’s attendance) from six Southern Arizona high schools—Lourdes Catholic School, San Miguel High, Salpointe Catholic High School, Notre Dame Preparatory, St. Augustine Catholic High School, and Brophy College Preparatory.
  • Immersion Experiences: The KBI hosted six immersion experiences in January with groups from around the country. One school, Salesianum School, is the site of a Kino Teens chapter.
Immersion Group # of participants # of days at the KBI
Boston College School of Social Work, Boston, MA 16 participants 1 day (as part of a
longer immersion)
Ignatian Colleagues Program, USA 12 participants
(faculty and administrators
from U.S. Jesuit universities)
6 days
Gonzaga University Justice in January Student Program,
Spokane, WA
12 participants 3 days
Salesianum School
Wilmington, DE
12 participants 4 days
University of Scranton
Scranton, PA
10 participants
(faculty)
3 days
Saint James Parish
Chicago, IL
7 participants 3 day

 

  • The KBI on the Road: Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams will spend the first week in February meeting with students, parents and faculty at KBI partner universities and high schools in St. Louis, Chicago, and Cincinnati. At the end of the month, Assistant Director of Education Pete Neeley, S.J. will attend and conduct workshops (one in English, one in Spanish) at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference where the theme will be “Embrace Trust.”
  • Phoenix Dinner: Please join us for the Seventh Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner in Phoenix on Saturday, March 25, 2017. More information about the event and purchasing tickets is available by calling Darci Haydukovich at 602-467-8825 or at: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org.
  • KBI Board Meeting: At the January 19 meeting, the KBI Board of Directors approved the 2017 budget, and voted in favor of the KBI’s updated advocacy policy. They also voted in favor of Francisco Lujan becoming an emeritus member of the Board of Directors.
  • KBI Team Retreat: The staff of the KBI spent a few dedicated days to plan for the coming year at a team retreat in St. David, Arizona from January 30–February 1.

The students get acquainted with an icebreaker at last year’s Walking in Mercy Youth Summit.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Support Migrants and Refugees!

At this critical time, with recent executive orders threatening the rights and welfare of migrants and refugees, please join the Kino Border Initiative in supporting this action alert from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. We must speak out against these divisive and discriminatory policies. To add your name to the JRS/USA rosters and to contact the president and your congressional representatives, go to: http://cqrcengage.com/jesuit/app/write-a-letter?2&engagementId=284353&ep=AAAAC2Flc0NpcGhlcjAxOb3k5MEXNKWEFC0eiXUYcgmEfdh844NPvvkE7OpXJShuEC3eDj82WPawFRqYZQQjm4tSLk2t5zqUVevuCqmOcOB57FKsvk7GgEigKJHf_sw&lp=0.

Children are among those who suffer most when migrant and refugee rights are trampled.
Photo courtesy of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

KBI Responds to Trump’s Executive Order and Calls for Protection of Human Dignity at the Border

January 25, 2017
For Immediate Release
Contact: Fr. Sean Carroll, SJ
520-287-2370, scarroll@kinoborderinitiative.org

We at the Kino Border Initiative reaffirm our commitment to work toward binational solidarity and humane, just and workable migration policies, especially considering today’s executive actions that instead cause division, dehumanization, and injustice.

We are deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s plan to dramatically expand border enforcement, including hiring an additional 5000 agents. Every day we receive our brothers and sisters who are deported to Nogales, Sonora and we witness firsthand the suffering caused by dramatic increases in border policing. In our 2015 report, Our Values on the Line, we found that one third of people surveyed have been subject to degrading treatment or abuse when detained by US Border Patrol. We have continued to see similar patterns and in the past 14 months have filed 45 complaints on behalf of migrants who report abuse to us. Dramatically and hastily expanding this agency without adequate training and accountability will only make the situation worse, not promote safety.

We also stress the urgency of the US responsibility to protect individuals fleeing violence. Every day, men, women and children who are forced to leave their homes arrive at our aid center and for many their only option to seek safety is to ask for asylum in the United States, much like the Holy Family had to flee to Egypt shortly after Jesus’ birth in order to protect Our Lord. The people we accompany to request asylum are already being routinely rejected by Customs and Border Protection officials, subject to harsh and unnecessarily prolonged detention, and given little access to due process in pursuing their legal claims. Today’s executive orders will only make their situation worse. Instead, our moral and religious principles urge us to welcome people seeking protection.

Rather than focusing solely on security, we must recommit ourselves to work with our brothers and sisters in other countries to address the reasons people migrate in the first place, especially the extreme poverty and violence that force people from their home communities. In his address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis in 2015 invited us “to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.” Working toward peace, justice, and prosperity is a challenging task, but God calls us to this holy work, rather than to approaches that only sow division and cause more suffering.

****

The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) is a binational organization located in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.  The KBI’s vision is to help make humane, just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico a reality. 

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

The Kino Border Initiative: The Year in Review

As we enter a new year, we pause to reflect on the important moments of 2016 and the KBI’s accomplishments along the way.

January

      • Pope Francis’s message in honor of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 17 called for mercy and compassion in keeping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
      • The KBI surpassed its 2015 fundraising goals, raising more than $1,000,000 through your generous donations.

 

February

  • Pope Francis undertook a 6-day tour of Mexico, drawing worldwide attention to major issues in that country—drug violence, economic justice, indigenous rights, and immigration—and celebrating a Mass at the border.
  • Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams represented the KBI in a Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) delegation to Washington, D.C. advocating for greater protection of migrant rights and accountability at the border.
  • The KBI and the Kino Teens hosted students from four southern Arizona high schools for a day-long Walking in Mercy Youth Summit held in Tucson.
  • The Sixth Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner in Phoenix drew 275 supporters and raised more than $122,000 for the KBI’s direct aid, education, advocacy and research programs.
  • Pope Francis’s message in honor of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 17 called for mercy and compassion in keeping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
  • The KBI surpassed its 2015 fundraising goals, raising more than $1,000,000 through your generous donations.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson welcomes students from four southern Arizona high schools to the Walking in Mercy Summit.

March

April

  • Holy Week at the KBI included special Easter week observances along with regular aid and advocacy activities.
  • KBI Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams participated in the quarterly Customs and Border Protection–NGO working group meeting held in McAllen, Texas.
  • Marla Conrad, then KBI Migrant Advocate and Volunteer Coordinator, presented KBI research findings from a Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) report at a WOLA-sponsored conference in Washington, D.C.

Children enjoy a meal at the comedor on Holy Saturday.

May

  • KBI Executive Director Sean Carroll, S.J. visited Milwaukee, WI to speak at Marquette University, Marquette University High School, and the Church of the Gesu and gave a talk for Jesuit Connections in Chicago, IL. (Here is a video of Father Sean’s Chicago talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrDEFrA1W5I. )

Father Sean chats with those gathered at a talk he gave in Chicago.
Photo courtesy of Charis – Jesuit Connections.

June

  • The Kino Teens held their first-ever Kino Teens Leadership Days, a 4-day border gathering of high school students from around the country to discuss border issues, and ways to support immigration reform and advocate in their communities on behalf of migrants.
  • The Supreme Court handed down a 4–4 ruling in United States v. Texas, leaving in place an injunction blocking President Obama’s 2014 executive order to provide temporary deportation relief and work visas to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens (DAPA) and expand a 2012 program offering deferments to non-citizen children who came to the U.S. while under the age of sixteen (DACA).

High school students from across the U.S. joined the KBI’s Father Pete Neeley, S.J. and Joanna Williams (far left) and Kim Miller from the Ignatian Solidarity Network (far right) at the KBI to participate in the first annual Leadership Days.

July

  • The KBI was recognized by Catholic Extension as one of seven finalists for their Lumen Christi Award, given to organizations or individuals who demonstrate the power of faith and the “Light of Christ” to transform the lives of those who are marginalized and in need (https://www.catholicextension.org/lumen-christi-award).

August

  • The KBI welcomed two new staff members: Jorge Arturo Capistrán, a Jesuit in formation, became the new Assistant to the Director of Programs in Mexico, and Sister Maribel Lara Hernández, M.E. joined the staff as Volunteer Coordinator.
  • The first-ever Refugee Olympic Team took part in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, entering the stadium during the opening ceremony to a standing ovation.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice announced that they will be closing private federal prisons where citizen and non-citizen inmates suffer harsh treatment and inhumane conditions, and the Secretary of Homeland Security called for a review of privately run immigration detention centers.
  • Throughout the summer, nine groups from across the U.S. participated in KBI’s week-long immersion experiences (101 participants in all) to learn more about the migrant experience and the reality of the border.

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

September

  • The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed to provide court-appointed legal counsel for immigrant children in deportation proceedings while calling for political solutions from the other branches of government.
  • The MacArthur Foundation announced 23 recipients of their prestigious “genius” grants, five of whom are doing work that advances our understanding of immigration, the immigrant experience, and the border.

2016 MacArthur Fellow Ahilan Arulanantham of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California worked on the recent class action lawsuit to obtain court-appointed attorneys for unaccompanied children in immigration court.
Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

October

  • KBI staff, Kino Teens, and students from Lourdes Catholic School and Brophy College Preparatory joined in the celebration of a Mass along the U.S.–Mexico border in Ambos Nogales, organized by Dioceses without Borders, a collaborative effort of the Dioceses of Phoenix, Tucson, and Nogales, Sonora.
  • The annual Tucson fiesta at the home of KBI board member and photographer Larry Hanelin and his wife Rosemarie in their Tucson home with planning/hosting help from Mary Ellen Cook, brought together 32 KBI supporters, and raised $9,200 for the KBI.
  • In collaboration with other groups and individuals, the KBI offered humanitarian support to Haitian migrants arriving in Nogales.
  • The KBI participated in a regional Jesuit Migration Network meeting in Guatemala City.

Haitian refugees gather at DeConcini port of entry awaiting entry into the U.S.

November

  • Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States, giving rise to fears about the future of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the DREAMers who have enrolled in the program as well as concerns about the direction of immigration reform in the U.S.
  • KBI Director of Advocacy and Education Joanna Williams and Assistant Director of Education Pete Neeley, S.J., along with Kino Teens from Lourdes Catholic School in Nogales, AZ attended the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C. The Kino Teens and Joanna gave workshop presentations. Also in attendance were four teens from Leadership days and dozens of students who have participated in KBI immersions.
  • Joanna Williams also represented the KBI in a post-election strategy session of the Southern Border Communities Coalition held in El Paso, TX.

Father Sean prays with young DREAMers at the Arizona-Sonora border in 2013.

December

  • The bi-national posada was held on December 10 in Ambos Nogales.
  • The regional directors of Jesuit Refugee Service International visited the KBI.
  • The Mexican Patronato held their annual “boteo” or change drive in support of the KBI’s work.
Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Oscar’s Story: The Impact of Family Separation

During the coming year, the KBI will share migrant experiences with you through intimate firsthand stories from people who turned to the KBI for aid and advocacy. Here is Oscar’s story, which highlights the painfulness and price of family separation.

Oscar was brought to the U.S. from Mexico by his parents when he was an infant. He went to schools in California and Arizona, and by the time he was seventeen, was working as a house painter. He had no encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) until then, although the threat of arrest, detainment and deportation loomed large.

When ICE apprehended Oscar on a paint run, his fears came to pass—he was detained, charged, and deported—while his partner Alexis remained in the U.S., awaiting their first child. Oscar managed to rejoin Alexis in time for the birth, but he was eventually deported again, and he is now separated from his family.

Oscar’s account tracks the fears and trauma of having to live in the shadows while trying to raise children who can live in the light. He wrote a letter to President Obama before Christmas in December 2015, and the situation he initially describes—leaving Alexis when she was pregnant—is all the more heartbreaking when recalling the circumstances of the Holy Family as they traveled to Bethlehem for the census, Mary pregnant but Joseph by her side. For undocumented or mixed-status families, this basic source of support at a time of great need is not something they can count on.

Here is Oscar’s story, in his own words, in both video and written form:

President Obama,

My name is Oscar. They took me to the U.S. when I was six months old. I went to school in the U.S. from kindergarten to high school. My life was never stable we always moved between Phoenix and California. Growing up my mom was in Mexico and my dad was an alcoholic. I never had anywhere stable to live. I had to live with friend. I lived in a really unsafe neighborhood and my family became my friends.

I had a job painting houses when I met Alexis. She changed my life. I was seventeen, she became pregnant so I decided to get my life together. I rented an apt for us, I painted the apt and the next day I was going to go pay for electricity so we could have light in the house. That same day I went with my boss to pick up some paint.

On the way, two vans started following us. It was ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. They asked us if we were legal, we said we were not. They told us that we had to be in our home country and they said they were going to take us in.

Then I did a month in Eloy.

Then they deported me to [Ciudad] Juarez.

I spent six months on the border. I lost the rent on my apt y lost my car and worst of all my girl Alexis was suffering and she was pregnant. I managed to get back. I walked 7 days through the desert and I arrived a day before Alexis went into labor. I went back to working but one day on my way to pick up Alexis the cops tried to pull me over. I tried to get away because I was afraid of being deported again.

I was detained and charged with unlawful flight. I did six months in prison. Then I was deported. All of this time has been really painfull [sic] for my wife and kids. Because I can never be with them.

They suffer because I’m not there they also suffer financially because they have nowhere to live, sometimes they don’t have enough to eat.

All I am asking is to be with my family. I don’t [want] my son to go through what I went through. I want my son to have the love of a father. Without me I’m afraid when he’s older he will be against the law. If I am there I can teach him to do good for his country.

So I am asking and begging you to give me a chance to live in the U.S.

I am sorry I went without papers but I was a baby. It wasn’t my choice.

Thank you for reading my letter, Mr. Obama.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmass [sic].

Oscar 12-15-2015

Detail from Oscar’s letter to President Obama.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Immigration in the News

This month, we include more post-election updates about community responses and support for migrant and refugee rights as well as stories about prosecutions, detention, and border deaths. In addition, we include in-depth year-end series that focus on the migration experience and immigration reform.

Photographer Gary He’s annual Christmas card (of He dressed as Santa at the border fence) caught the attention of The Washington Post and invites viewers to formulate their own interpretations.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest