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

KBI January Announcements

In December, the KBI joined other agencies to sign a letter advocating for migrant and refugee rights at the border. This month, the Catholic Church observes National Migration Week, and KBI board members gather for their first meeting of the year. Also, planning is underway for the annual Phoenix fundraising dinner in March—mark your calendars! Finally, we bring wonderful news about the KBI’s latest fundraising numbers.

  • Joint Statement on Access to Asylum at the Border: The KBI joined over 20 other advocacy and human rights organizations in signing a letter to Mexican authorities in defense of rights of migrants and refugees to seek asylum. Many are being turned away at the border, and unlawfully prevented from presenting themselves as asylum seekers. The letter denounces these practices and urges protection of migrant and refugee rights. Read the letter here: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/joint-statement-mexican-authorities-access-asylum-border/.
  • National Migration Week: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) observes National Migration Week, January 8–14, an occasion to be mindful and active in welcoming those who are displaced and newly arrived, and set the tone for the year ahead. This year’s theme is “Creating a Culture of Encounter,” and more information about activities and resources for getting involved in your community are available at: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/index.cfm.
  • January Board Meeting: KBI board members will have their first meeting of 2017 on January 19 in Nogales, Sonora. Look for an update from their discussions and planning in an upcoming newsletter.
  • Phoenix Dinner: Don’t miss the Seventh Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner in Phoenix on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Look for more information about the event and purchasing tickets, please call Darci Haydukovich at 602-467-8825 or look for updates at: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org.
  • 2016 Fundraising News: The KBI is pleased to announce that the preliminary fundraising total for 2016 is close to $1,000,000! We also had over 400 new donors this past year. Many thanks to our dedicated donors and supporters! We could not do this important work with you!

At last year’s Phoenix fundraiser, Father Sean presented Jeanne and Jack O’Brien with the Pope Francis Award for their exceptional support of the KBI’s mission.
Photo by Larry Hanelin.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

The KBI and IKF on Facebook

Don’t forget to check out the KBI and IKF Facebook pages, in English and Spanish. These pages—one in English, one in Spanish—were first initiated in 2014. Since then, the English page has garnered more than 2,850 likes/followers and the Spanish page (for Iniciativa Kino para la Frontera, the name of the KBI in Mexico), more than 875. The posts on these pages will keep you up-to-date on the latest immigration news, advocacy alerts, announcements, photos, reflections, and KBI activities. Here are the links:

A post from the KBI and IKF Facebook pages shows visitors from St. Peter’s Catholic Church in North Carolina serving meals in the comedor.

This post from the IKF Facebook page shares a quote from a letter written by a deported migrant. “I am not a criminal; I am just a mother looking to reunite with my children.”

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Joint Statement to Mexican Authorities on Access to Asylum at the Border

Osorio Chong, Secretary of Governance
Ardelio Vargas Fosado, Comissioner of the National Migration Institute
Luis Raúl González Pérez, President of the National Commission of Human Rights
To civil society
To the media

The below signing organizations have learned of and presented complaints about the following issues:

People who are fleeing from their country and seek protection in the United States are being turned away by Mexican and US authorities. In cities such as Tijuana, Mexicali and Nogales, people seeking asylum are rejected by US authorities if they do not appear on the lists controlled by the National Institute of Migration in Mexico. It is illegal for Mexican authorities to control who can or cannot present themselves on the southern border of the United States to ask for asylum. Mexican authorities do not have the ability or training to participate in the process and, when they do so, commit serious errors and violations of migrants’ human rights.

These actions restrict access to the right to seek asylum, which is protected by international conventions and treaties. The denial of this right creates heightened risk and vulnerability for people who are at the border seeking asylum, because Mexican migration authorities do not allow asylum-seekers who do not have a legal immigration status in Mexico to add their names to the lists, threatening them with deportation and, in some cases, say that they will be turned over to police.

This practice affects Central Americans, Mexicans and Africans, adults travelling alone as well as families and unaccompanied minors. The fact that they are forced to remain in border cities for longer, without legal status, exposes them to kidnapping and extortion, since there are not adequate mechanisms to protect them. Moreover, it leads migrants to take greater risks in an attempt to arrive to the United States as they face the danger of crossing the desert and contact organized criminal networks in order to cross.

We denounce Mexican and US authorities for their role in these anti-refugee policies as they deny individuals and families the right to protection and asylum.

As civil society and defenders of the rights of migrants, we call on the National Migration Institute in Mexico to create a mechanism that protects the rights of people seeking asylum and protection during their displacement. We ask the National Migration Institute to grant temporary legal status to all people who arrive at the border to ask for asylum in the United States.

Contacts for Media:

Fr. Pat Murphy (Vice-president of the Coalición Pro Defensa Migrante, Tijuana): 01 (664) 682-5180 / 01 (664) 382-7685 / casadelmigrantetijuana@gmail.com

Fr. Álvaro Salvador Gutiérrez (Coordinator of Human Mobility in the Diocese of Mexicali): 01-686-5616029 / elpadrematrix@hotmail.com

Marla Conrad (Co-coordinator of the Network of Migrant Shelters and Human Rights Centers in the Northern Region, Nogales): 01-631-316-2086 / marlaconrad@gmail.com

Signed by   Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante | Juntos en el Camino | Casa Migrante Maná | Casa del Migrante la Divina Providencia | Centro Comunitario de Ayuda a Migrantes | Centro Comunitario de Atención al Migrante y Necesitado | Iniciativa Kino | Comedor Guadalupano | Centro de Recursos para Migrantes | Casa de Atención al Migrante Éxodus | Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción | Uno de Siete Migrando | Casa Migrante Nazaret | Casa Monarca | Casa Nicolás | Casa del Forastero Santa Martha | Frontera con Justicia A.C. [Casa del Migrante de Saltillo] | Casa del Peregrino | Casa Emmaus: Casa del Emigrante | Albergue Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe | Albergue Senda de Vida | Casa San Juan Diego y San Francisco de Asís

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

What Will Become of the DREAMers’ Dream?

With the election of a new U.S. president, a long-unresponsive Congress, and a Supreme Court vacancy, the future of President Obama’s immigration executive actions—and the young immigrant lives it affects—is uncertain.

In November 2014, after years of Congressional gridlock on immigration reform, President Obama issued an executive order to provide temporary relief for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. The action would offer work visas and deportation deferment to parents of children with legal status (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA), and expand an existing program allowing non-citizens brought to the U.S. as children—often called DREAMers—to apply for renewable 2-year stays of deportation to work and study in the U.S. (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA). A Supreme Court decision in June upheld an injunction against the order rendering DAPA defunct before it started and DACA, begun in 2012, also by executive order, intact in its original form, at least until January 20, 2017 when Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the nation’s 45th president.

The President-elect’s promise to rescind Obama’s immigration actions and initiate deportation proceedings against millions of undocumented immigrants casts the future of DACA in doubt. And the reversal of DACA can come about easily, in the same way it was instituted—with a presidential signature. Moreover, immigration reform may continue to be stalled by Congress or fail to address issues of human dignity and family unity, and the Supreme Court with a newly appointed justice may be unlikely to rule favorably on questions impacting the rights and due process of immigrants.

Until the new president takes office, we cannot know exactly what will happen, but concerns are already mounting for the 742,000 DREAMers working and studying under DACA. Immigrant advocacy groups and civil rights organizations have been besieged with calls in recent weeks. At the same time there has been a surge of harassment and antagonist expressions of anti-immigrant sentiments, such as students chanting “Build a wall!” in the school cafeteria soon after the election and spray-painted messages to “Go home!” appearing in public places throughout the country. For individuals and families without legal status who have spent years living in fear of separation and deportation, these acts have contributed to a heightened atmosphere of fear, distrust, and threat in countless communities.

What are the fears among DACA-protected students and employees? Are they realistic? What actions are to be taken as we wait for resolution?

The Fears

When DACA was first begun in 2012, eligible immigrants—young undocumented people with no criminal record who were brought to the U.S. as children—overcame their worries about identifying themselves to federal agencies in order to obtain work visas, the opportunity to study without risk of deportation, and the assurance that they could remain with their families in the U.S. legally. Their DACA status does not confer amnesty, as some critics claim, but is an accommodation providing temporary relief from deportation. The rationale behind DACA is that these individuals have lived most of their lives in the U.S.; are culturally American (often having no memories of their birthplace); contribute to the vibrant fabric of communities throughout the country (many having served in the military) and can become even more valuable participants as they develop their skills and talents; and from a legal perspective, are not responsible for the actions of their parents who brought them to the U.S.

If DACA is terminated, the DREAMers will have to contend with derailed educational plans; loss of jobs, professional prospects, and income; and possible deportation, not only for them, but for family members who were identified in the application process. The threat of family separation, always a danger for mixed-status families, would increase. Currently, as crimes against immigrants have escalated, their very safety is at risk. With so much in jeopardy, it is no wonder that DACA immigrants and their families are scared, and that immigrant organizations are coping with an onslaught of inquiries and are hard at work to develop strategies to deal with the possible termination of DACA.

The Facts

The fears and anxieties are real enough, but until the new administration is in place, no one knows what will happen to the DREAMers. We know that DACA has been a success and a benefit to individuals, families, and communities. Recipients have obtained more education and training, becoming teachers, accountants, paramedics, and more. They are supporting their children, buying new cars and homes, and paying more taxes, all made possible with the specter of deportation held at bay. If DACA were terminated, the U.S. would lose as much as $433.4 billion in GDP over the next decade.*

We also know that eliminating DACA is a priority for President-elect Trump. He ran on an anti-immigrant platform, and his supporters have been outspoken in their support of this position. So far, Trump’s selections for his transition team and cabinet are troubling: Steve Bannon, former head of the far-right Breitbart News and the source of well-publicized remarks against immigrants, people of color, and non-Christians, as chief strategist and senior counselor; Senator Jeff Sessions (R–AL), a vigorous opponent of DACA and a failed judicial nominee to the district court of the Southern District of Alabama, as attorney general; and Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, co-writer of Arizona’s controversial immigrant-targeting SB 1070 law, several parts of which were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and filer of a dismissed 2012 lawsuit against DACA, as an advisor.

So DACA’s termination may well be likely, though it is uncertain if Trump will allow existing work permits to lapse or if they will become immediately null and void. Less likely is deportation, at least not imminently. Trump has declared his intention to focus on deporting immigrants with criminal records (he asserts there are 2–3 million, but accurate statistics indicate approximately 820,000), and the DREAMers, subjected to stringent vetting during their application process, are not among this group. Still, it is not clear if family members may be at risk here; DACA recipients submitted their applications and detailed information to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which enforces immigration laws. Only a memorandum prevents that info from being shared, and it could be revised by the new administration.

As for an increase in deportation overall, the Obama administration has deported 2.5 million people, a 23% increase over the George W. Bush terms. Congressional appropriations for deportation have allowed for about 400,000 individuals to be deported each year. This funding is unlikely to increase substantially in the next administration. At this rate, any mass deportation plan would take 20 years to accomplish, cost up to $600 million, and decrease the GDP by $1 trillion over that time. Even so, these statistics do little to ease worries among undocumented families.

Finally, whether or not DACA continues, there are already massive flaws in our deportation system—asylum cases falling through the cracks due to expedited processing and other reasons; strict interpretations of “credible fear”; and inadequate legal representation and self-representation, even among children. Under an administration unsympathetic to immigrants, these scenarios are likely to escalate.

The Future and the Present

For now, immigrant advocacy agencies have encouraged DREAMers to renew applications before January 20, though with an application fee of close to $500, some may deem this an unaffordable investment for a program that could be halted. First-time applicants are advised not to apply, since there is not enough time to process applications before the inauguration, and those studying outside of the country are urged to return by mid-January.

These agencies are currently mobilizing to advocate even more strongly for immigrants should that become necessary. Their commitment was instrumental in harnessing and consolidating public pressure to help bring DACA into being. The DREAMers themselves have been a vital source of advocacy, through organizations such as United We Dream and social media campaigns such as the newly initiated #With DACA, Twitter posts of goals realized through the DACA program. In addition, a number of cities, such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and, Washington D.C., as well as universities and churches have pledged to uphold their sanctuary policies regardless of any changes in federal immigration policies.

As citizens, we can join these efforts of support and accompaniment through letters and calls to congressional leaders to call for immigration reform. We can donate to organizations like the KBI who use their resources to educate and advocate. And we can stay informed about the latest news about immigration and deportation policies, the better to respond swiftly, sensibly, and compassionately. The KBI newsletter will continue to keep you up-to-date on these critical issues.

DACA UPDATE: Senators Lindsay Graham (R–SC) and Dick Durbin (D–IL) are currently drafting legislation to offer protection to DREAMers and their families should Trump decide to reverse DACA: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/lindsey-graham-dreamers-bill-immigration-232017.

* The GDP calculation is based on statistics from USCIS and an October 2016 survey of DACA recipients by political scientist Tom K. Wong, United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, and CAP.

NOTE: Please see the following Passages articles from July and May 2016 for more background on the history of DACA:

July—https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/supreme-court-ruling-immigration-relief/.
May—https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/the-supreme-court-and-immigration/.

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

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

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

One Big Family

As you spend time with family and friends this holiday season, consider watching a movie about the migrant experience and border life together. These stirring films allow us to see ourselves in others, inspire discussion, and urge us to act and advocate on behalf of those who seek family reunions and better lives.

Over the past two decades, many films have addressed the trials and struggles, hopes and dreams of families and individuals who cross the U.S.–Mexico border to seek a better life and to be with loved ones. In addition to the titles listed below, there are also My Family (1995), Sin Nombre (2009), and A Better Life (2013).

  • Now a classic and one of the first movies about the struggles and hardships facing those who choose to migrate to the U.S., El Norte (1983) by Gregory Nava relates the experience of a teen-aged brother and sister who flee the violence of their home in Guatemala for the promise of a better life in Los Angeles.
  • Among the four narratives Alejandro González Iñárritu includes in Babel (2006), one details the interwoven lives of a San Diego family and their undocumented Mexican nanny and how crossing the border to attend a family wedding can result in painful and irreparable consequences.
  • Under the Same Moon (2007), directed by Patricia Riggen, makes palpable the dire and complicated decisions faced by separated families. An adolescent boy leaves Mexico after his grandmother dies to seek out his mother who works as a maid in the U.S.
  • In Who Is Dayani Cristal? (2013), actor and activist Gael García Bernal retraces the journey of a migrant who died along the stretch of desert known as “the corridor of death,” providing a rare view of what migrants experience on el camino. Each year 400–500 migrants lose their lives during the crossing. For more information about the tragedy of migrant deaths in the desert, please see this article from the KBI July issue of Passages: kinoborderinitiative.org/deaths-in-the-desert/.
  • Documented (2013), a film by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist José Antonio Vargas, recounts Vargas’s experience of migrating to the U.S. at the age of 12 from the Philippines to live with his documented grandparents. Vargas speaks out about his undocumented status in the hopes of illuminating the challenges of mixed-status families and advocating for policy change.
Who Is Dayani Cristal? retraces the journey of a migrant who died while attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert.

Who Is Dayani Cristal? retraces the journey of a migrant who died while attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert.

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

Immigration in the News

The headlines this month deal with the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, reactions from immigrant groups, churches, universities, and cities about possible changes in immigration policy, and other stories about immigrant rights, the border, and the plight of Central American migrants.

Embed from Getty Images.A Central American boy plays in a Mexico City shelter. As the number of unaccompanied children journeying through Mexico to the U.S. rises, so have the violations of children’s rights.Photo from Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images.

 

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest

KBI December Announcements

Looking ahead, the Kino Border Initiative prepares for its January board meeting and annual Phoenix fundraising dinner in March. In addition, learn about a Tucson photography exhibit about the border, on display through mid-December, and a touring interactive exhibit about the refugee experience from Doctors Without Borders.

  • Phoenix Dinner: Save the date for the KBI’s annual fundraising dinner in Phoenix on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Look for more information about the event and purchasing tickets, please call Darci Haydukovich at 602-467-8825 or look for updates at: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org.
  • January Board Meeting: KBI board members will have their first meeting of 2017 on January 19 in Nogales, Sonora. Look for an update from their discussions and planning in an upcoming newsletter.
  • Interactive Traveling Exhibit about the Refugee Experience: A free, outdoor exhibit, “Forced From Home,” designed to raise awareness about the plight of the more than 65 million displaced people in the world has recently completed its tour of northeast U.S. cities. Mounted by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the interactive exhibition is an educational effort to encourage visitors to contemplate the dire circumstances that cause individuals and entire families to leave their homes, risking possible separation from loved ones, permanent exile, and death. Visitors are asked to confront the basic questions faced by refugees—what to bring, how to proceed, where to seek safety—while learning more about the conditions, choices, and suffering endured by those who leave everything they know. Exhibit dates and locations for 2017 and 2018 are yet to be determined. For more information about the exhibit, including refugee stories, please go to: http://www.forcedfromhome.com. And check out this podcast from New Yorker contributor and recent MacArthur fellow Sarah Stillman about her visit to the Manhattan installation: http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/political-scene/sarah-stillman-on-simulating-the-refugee-experience.
  • Borderlands Photo Exhibit: There’s still time to visit the fascinating photography exhibit, Lens on the Border: Creative Resistance from the Eyes of Four Borderlands Photographers in Tucson’s Historic Y main lobby before it comes down on December 14. These powerful images from photographers Krista Schlyer, Raechel Running, Khaled Jarrar, and Bill Hatcher capture the border in illuminating and unexpected ways. Sponsored by the Sierra Club Grassroots Network, the Historic Y, and the Windsong Peace and Leadership Center. Exhibition info: Historic Y, 738 N. Fifth Avenue, Tucson. On view now through December 14, Monday–Friday, 9:00am–5:00pm. Free. http://sierraclub.org/borderlands/photo-exhibit.

announcements-phoenixdinner

Share this:
Facebook Email Twitter Pinterest