A Pilgrim’s Progress: The Legacy of Thanksgiving

The pilgrims and Native Americans who celebrated the first Thanksgiving have a lot in common with the migrants of today.

There are many misconceptions about the origins of the U.S. celebration of Thanksgiving. For one thing, the now-legendary feast on Plymouth Plantation in 1621 was not a celebration of thanksgiving, but an acknowledgement of a successful harvest. Nor was it a “first”—it was common to set aside a time of thanks well before this Plymouth event, though fasting more than feasting was the order of the day. There were no shoe buckles, no table or utensils, and no turkey. And the notion that the settlers extended a formal invitation to the Wampanoag residing nearby (who were more likely attracted by the revelry and inspired to contribute 5 deer to the party) is pure invention.

What we do know with certainty is that before those European settlers survived the winter of 1620 and the following planting season (only 50 remained of the original 100), they survived a two-month cross-Atlantic voyage. They were, indeed, pilgrims, travelers who had journeyed a long distance, in this case, to escape persecution and pursue a better life. During this time of giving thanks and sharing abundance, the similarities between those early immigrants and today’s migrants are worth reflecting on.

Like their predecessors, modern-day migrants undertake arduous and lengthy journeys, over land and sea, and are often subject to grave dangers along the way. They are motivated by the same urges to improve one’s quality of life, find gainful livelihood, and flee oppression and violence. And upon arriving at their destination, they are pitted against further challenges that may prove insurmountable, including making a home with their families in unfamiliar, perhaps unfriendly surroundings, and suffering the pain of exile. Today, deportation is also a frequent outcome, and despite all the risks, efforts and expenditures, they may be forced to start again. In most instances, the entire endeavor is a test of survival, and a gamble on “making it” in a “new world.”

Rather than considering the migration of these contemporary pilgrims as a new phenomenon, it’s important to remember that it is simply a continuation of an ages-old human impulse to move—from farm to city, from country to country, from continent to continent—and evidence of a very understandable yearning within us for security, safety and well-being, wherever that can be found. So people migrate as they have done for millennia. The movements of those who were brave, steadfast or desperate enough to take to the road, with all its hopes and risks, have shaped all of human history and culture. It is how, in this country that has memorialized the Plymouth pilgrims’ sacrifices and perseverance in a much-treasured national holiday, the U.S. became the U.S.

The other participants in that seminal celebration—the Native Americans who taught the settlers how to fish and farm—were pilgrims, too, but their migrations, often to lands far from their original homes, were not voluntary. The forced relocation of native populations is part of any full history of migration in North America, and it touches on another element of the migrant experience, namely, displacement. To leave is one part of migration, to journey another, but to at last settle into a new life in a new land, in any number of circumstances, involves a bittersweet goodbye to one’s former home, and sometimes an extended or permanent separation from loved ones. While other aspects of migration are daunting, the separation of families is heart-breaking, and finding a way to keep families together fuels a big part of the current immigration debate in the U.S. Can we institute a humane and compassionate immigration policy that unites migrants with their children, parents and spouses, rather than coldly discounting those ties?

The connections we have with family, community and the wider world are at the heart of the upcoming holiday—though today, the “wider world” is, in fact, the planet—and find their origins in that 500-year-old harvest festival. The Native Americans shared their knowledge of their land, the pilgrims shared the fruits of their labor, and a satisfying, if short-lived, exchange of resources was forged. Today, we honor interdependence and express our gratitude for what we have by traveling to be with family, volunteering to help others who are not as fortunate, and gathering to share a plentiful Thanksgiving meal.

When Pope Francis recently wrote that the “Church is a pilgrim in the world,” he reminded Catholics and others around the world of the centrality of the journey. The supporters, staff, volunteers and board members of the Kino Border Initiative strive to live up to this ideal. We are all pilgrims, implicated in each other’s journeys and called to make a migration that is at once personal and collective, literal and metaphoric. We are invited to participate in that grand tradition of movement—on a road, in our hearts, perhaps outside our comfort zones—and to gather around a table that seats all of us.

The Myth: Paintings such as The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (1914), by Jennie A. Brownscombe, enshrine a picture of the “first” Thanksgiving that is more sentimental than factual. Public domain image.

The Myth: Paintings such as The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (1914), by Jennie A. Brownscombe, enshrine a picture of the “first” Thanksgiving that is more sentimental than factual.
Public domain image.


The Real Deal: Migrants gather at the KBI comedor to share a meal in a spirit of gratitude for the gifts of safety, nourishment and companionship. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

The Real Deal: Migrants gather at the KBI comedor to share a meal in a spirit of gratitude for the gifts of safety, nourishment and companionship.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.

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Giving Thanks

Kino Border Initiative staff, board members, and volunteers as well as the migrants they serve weigh in about what they are thankful for during this season of gratitude.

“I am grateful for the generous way that the migrants I encounter every day in the comedor share with me their hopes, their smiles, and their struggles. That people who have suffered so much are still so willing to give of themselves to help at the comedor, and to share who they are with me constantly amazes me and is a constant source of grace for me.”

“I had forgotten God. But now, being here, I feel God more present because of the support, food, shelter I receive.”

“La labor de la Iniciativa Kino para la Frontera es de suma importancia y por la cual estoy muy agradecido a nombre de cientos y miles de inmigrantes de mi país que han sido ayudados y amparados por toda la gente de la KBI que ya por años han brindado apoyo al migrante. ¡GRACIAS!” (“The work of the Kino Border Initiative is of paramount importance, and I’m grateful on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from my country who the KBI has helped and for so many years. THANK YOU!)

“Recently, I ran into a young man in a Cancun hotel who recognized me right off, and asked if I was still working in Nogales. He told me that the CAMDEP (the comedor) was a big lift when he was down. Throughout the weekend, every time I saw him, he expressed thanks for all we do there. Such a coincidence to encounter each other after 2 years!”

“I am grateful for our hard-working KBI Board of Directors whose goal is to make a permanent facility serving migrants a reality.”

“No sé lo que sería de nosotros sin estas ayudas que nos ofrecen. Nunca imaginé que pudiera haberlo.” (“I do not know what would become of us without such aid they offer. I never imagined that one could have this.”)

“Hearing the stories of the migrants is a constant reminder of how fragile life can be, and how important it is to help each other in times of crisis. I’m grateful for these lessons, and also to be able to live and work near my family in relative safety. It is so easy to forget what a gift that is.”

“I am grateful for the kindness of many who give their time, talents and money to causes they believe in.”

“Kino es lo mejor que hemos encontrado en todo nuestro caminar. Es increíble! Nunca imaginé que pudiera haber algo así.” (“Kino is the best I have encountered throughout our journey. It’s incredible! I never imagined that there could be something like this.”)

“I am grateful and humbled to work with such caring people who have devoted their life’s work to serving others. It is a blessing to be able to play a small part in this important work.”

“Thanks for all you are doing for me. I now believe in the presence of God in my life.”

“I am grateful for the dedicated service offered year-round to migrants by our remarkable staff at KBI.”

“Washing dishes with a migrant woman recently, I thanked her for her help. She in turn said, ‘No, I want to thank all of you: it helps me to help here [with the clean-up]—it makes me feel a little less uncomfortable.’”

“I never imagined this was here. I give great thanks for all these services.”

The migrants gather with KBI staff and volunteers before the morning meal. Photo by Andrea Cauthen.

The migrants gather with KBI staff and volunteers before the morning meal.
Photo by Andrea Cauthen.


Breakfast is served every morning of the year at the KBI comedor.

Breakfast is served every morning of the year at the KBI comedor.

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Immigration in the News

This month’s articles include discussions of immigration’s economic impacts; accounts of government and citizen efforts to assist and support new immigrants; articles about the dangers, both physical and psychological, faced by migrants; a reflection from a recently naturalized U.S. voter; and the story of nuns gathering in Nogales and the KBI in solidarity with the migrants.

• From the New Yorker (10/31/16), a thoughtful book review about the immigration debate, the place of immigrants in our society, and our collective responsibilities to those who seek refuge and a better, safer life: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/untangling-the-immigration-debate?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%20-%20With%20Photo%20(109)&CNDID=31758749&spMailingID=9770391&spUserID=MTMzMTgzMjE4NTczS0&spJobID=1022166920&spReportId=MTAyMjE2NjkyMAS2.

• From the Los Angeles Times (10/27/16), a story about the pending deportation of a South Korean man who was raised in the U.S. by his adoptive parents and has lived here for 37 years: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-south-korean-deportation-20161027-story.html.

• From the Loyola Phoenix (10/26/16), an article about Loyola University’s student-organized Mock Border Wall project, designed to encourage constructive discussion about immigration and the migrant experience: http://www.loyolaphoenix.com/2016/10/mock-border-wall-sparks-immigration-dialogue/.

• From The New York Times (10/25/16), a history of the economic impact of immigrants in the U.S. labor force since the 1940s: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/business/economy/if-immigration-cant-be-stopped-maybe-it-can-be-managed.html?emc=edit_th_20161026&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.

• From Nogales International (10/25/16), a report on Haitian refugees arriving in Nogales, Sonora after their long journeys and seeking entry into the U.S.: http://www.nogalesinternational.com/news/haitian-migrants-arrive-in-nogales-sonora-after-months-long-journey/article_859edb06-97ed-11e6-8166-8f727c352eca.html.

• From The New York Times (10/20/16), an op-ed from a newly naturalized U.S. citizen about voting for the first time in the upcoming election: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/opinion/how-to-vote-as-an-immigrant-and-a-citizen.html?nlid=68564230&src=recpb.

• From the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (10/18/16), three short films from the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award ceremony honoring volunteer efforts in Greece to save thousands of refugees in distress at sea, a situation that tragically echoes the desert deaths in North America: (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrKwV2M17gs&index=4&list=PLtPw-Y91GlmUpiWE6-T7pRAR7UxhRoQSg; (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqrVAnc-1uQ&list=PLtPw-Y91GlmUpiWE6-T7pRAR7UxhRoQSg&index=5; and (3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T06F6LS8NSc&list=PLtPw-Y91GlmUpiWE6-T7pRAR7UxhRoQSg&index=6.

• From The New York Times (10/18/16), a chronicle of how job placement is helping refugees in Europe acclimate to their new lives: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/19/business/international/guiding-refugees-in-europe-on-a-rocky-path-to-assimilation.html?emc=edit_th_20161019&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.

• From The New York Times (10/18/16), an op-ed about refugee resettlement in the U.S. and the importance of these humanitarian efforts: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/opinion/refugees-need-a-nations-better-angels.html?emc=edit_th_20161018&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.

• From The New York Times (10/17/16), a piece about a November ballot measure in California seeking to expand bilingual education in response to their increasingly multilingual population: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/us/californians-having-curbed-bilingual-education-may-now-expand-it.html?emc=edit_th_20161018&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.

• From the Global Sisters Report (10/9/16), coverage of a recent gathering of nuns in Nogales and at the KBI comedor for prayer, discussion, and advocacy in support of immigration reform: http://globalsistersreport.org/blog/gsr-today/migration/sisters-advocates-gather-us-mexico-border-call-attention-immigration.

• From Scientific American (10/8/16), an article about a forensic anthropologist using DNA to identify remains found along the migrant trail in the Sonoran Desert: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/qa-forensic-anthropologist-mercedes-doretti/.

• From The New York Times (9/8/16), stories of Canadians welcoming Syrian families to their new home: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/22/world/americas/canada-refugees-syria.html?emc=edit_th_20161023&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230. (Part I of this coverage here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/world/americas/canada-syrian-refugees.html?emc=edit_th_20161023&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=68564230.)

• From The Hill (5/13/16), a blog post by a pediatrician and advocate documenting the psychological damage children suffer when their parents are deported: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/279544-immigration-deporting-parents-negatively-affects-kids-health.

• From the New Yorker (4/27/15), an in-depth story by recently named MacArthur Fellow Sarah Stillman about the dangers faced by Latin American migrants on their journeys and at the border: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/27/where-are-the-children?mbid=nl_100016_Sunday_Wei&CNDID=31758749&spMailingID=9653170&spUserID=MTMzMTgzMjE4NTczS0&spJobID=1020560818&spReportId=MTAyMDU2MDgxOAS2.

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

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

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KBI November Announcements

At the U.S.–Mexico border this month, two events captured the vast continuum of emotions experienced there—people gathered together to celebrate a Mass in Ambos Nogales and dozens of Haitian refugees arrived to wait for paperwork to enter the U.S. We also extend our gratitude for a successful Tucson fundraiser and our congratulations to a KBI supporter recognized for his community service. Finally, we alert you to a moving photo exhibition about the borderlands on view in Tucson.

• A Mass at the Border: 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, the third in a series of three border liturgies organized by Dioceses without Borders, a collaborative effort of the Dioceses of Phoenix, Tucson, and Nogales, Sonora. The others were in Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Sonora and Naco, AZ and Naco, Sonora. During this Year of Mercy, the Masses raise awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees, and the need to accompany them with mercy and compassion. As Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., French Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who celebrated the Mass, said, “Anything that goes in the direction of understanding, helping each other, discovering the beauty of the other is what is necessary to convert hearts and transform the world.” Read more about the Ambos Nogales Mass here: https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/10/23/border-mass-popes-u-s-envoy-backs-immigration-reform/. To let President Obama and your Congressional leaders know you support immigration reform, send a letter here: http://cqrcengage.com/jesuit/app/onestep-write-a-letter?2&engagementId=255633&ep=AAAAC2Flc0NpcGhlcjAxscwhSZv_WYQ0v2JW753mJANzVjDXpA0LLnaxlo65aX9G5hSj9ilPNn4c1AudjM8NPRrOMR_9YRK2BqET770eWVr-dlUgyxXZCqEEXKMvS4E&lp=0.

• The KBI Greets Refugees from Haiti: The Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist who run the KBI comedor visited recently arrived Haitian refugees at the DeConcini Port of Entry to provide solace, solidarity and some lightness. Even during a time of stress and uncertainty as they wait their turn to enter the U.S., the Haitians joined in a light-hearted exchange with the Sisters. Take a look at the video here: https://www.facebook.com/Kino.Border.lnitiative/posts/1339290932777133.

• KBI October Fundraiser: The October fiesta fundraiser, hosted by KBI board member and photographer Larry Hanelin and his wife Rosemarie in their Tucson home, was a wonderful celebration of the KBI’s mission and commitment to our ongoing work. Father Sean addressed 32 guests who raised $9,200 for KBI aid, education, and advocacy programs. Many thanks to all who generously donated, and to Rosemarie and Larry, along with help from Mary Ellen Cook, who made this event possible!

• Brophy College Preparatory Awards: The KBI congratulates Tom McCabe, Class of ’66, who has been honored by his alma mater with the St. Ignatius Loyola Award for Distinguished Service. Tom is a valued supporter of the KBI, and has served his community through his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Mary’s Food Bank, and St. Timothy’s Parish in Mesa, AZ. Tom and his wife Patty participated in last year’s Phoenix Dinner auction and won a memorable southern Arizona weekend, including a night’s stay at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, a day at the KBI, and a gourmet dinner prepared by Father Sean and Father Pete Neeley at the Jesuit residence in Nogales, AZ. ¡Felicidades, Tom!

• Borderlands Photo Exhibit: On display at Tucson’s Historic Y main lobby through December 14, catch the fascinating photography exhibit, Lens on the Border: Creative Resistance from the Eyes of Four Borderlands Photographers. 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.

People gather on the U.S. side of the border fence for a bi-national Mass celebrated in Ambos Nogales.

People gather on the U.S. side of the border fence for a bi-national Mass celebrated in Ambos Nogales.

French Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., celebrates Mass at the U.S.–Mexico border.

French Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., celebrates Mass at the U.S.–Mexico border.

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Giving Tuesday 2016

Join the national movement to give during a season of thanks and giving! Giving Tuesday was instituted to encourage charity after the indulgences of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a reminder to share whatever abundance we have. We ask you to remember the Kino Border Initiative in your giving plans, and take the opportunity on Tuesday, November 29 to make a donation to help our migrant brothers and sisters. You can make a donation on Giving Tuesday or anytime at https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/get-involved/donate/. Thank you for your kind and generous support!


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Children in Immigration Court

A U.S. appeals court rejected a lawsuit filed to gain legal representation for immigrant children in deportation proceedings. How did this lawsuit come about and, in advocating for these most vulnerable of immigrants, what’s next?

Two years into a lawsuit filed to establish the right of immigrant children to court-appointed attorneys, a federal appeals court panel of three judges unanimously rejected the class-action status of the suit, asserting that such claims must be filed individually, in accordance with their reading of immigration law, and after deportation proceedings are exhausted. The ruling is a major blow to the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union and several immigrant rights groups who have sought to correct the unacceptable situation through legal means.

At issue are the due process rights of these children who, unlike plaintiffs in criminal cases (deportation proceedings are civil cases), are not assigned a free court-appointed attorney, and immigration judges are not authorized to appoint one. Countering the class-action suit, the U.S. government filed a brief maintaining that the constitutional right to legal representation does not apply in immigration cases. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed on jurisdictional grounds (meaning it is not up to the judiciary to solve the problem), but as Judge Mary Margaret McKeown wrote in her opinion (concurring with Judge Milan Smith), “I cannot let the occasion pass without highlighting the plight of unrepresented children who find themselves in immigration proceedings. I write to underscore that the Executive and Congress have the power to address this crisis without judicial intervention. What is missing here? Money and resolve—political solutions that fall outside the purview of the courts.”

Indeed, federal funding has been allocated for programs that provide lawyers for unaccompanied children, which implicitly acknowledges that unaccompanied children deserve legal counsel even while the government holds that there is no constitutional obligation to provide it. As former Attorney General Eric Holder remarked in 2014 as more than 60,000 unaccompanied minors flooded across the U.S.–Mexico border, “Though these children may not have a constitutional right to a lawyer, we have policy reasons and a moral obligation to ensure presence of counsel.”

In so many ways, the moral issues overshadow the confounding legal ones. Thousands of immigrant children—many in their teens but some as young as three years old—are required to act as their own lawyers, at trials conducted in a language they don’t understand, in formal and foreign administrative surroundings, opposite trained federal prosecutors, and with no awareness of potential asylum, relief, or U.S. citizenship claims for which they might be eligible. Often, adult relatives who may be in attendance are not permitted to speak on the child’s behalf.

It is revealing to consider that in other legal scenarios (child welfare, juvenile delinquency, etc.), children are not expected to represent themselves. Yet in immigration court, where deportation, family separation, and a return to the life-threatening circumstances in countries of origin are possible consequences, children are left to fend for themselves. It is not an understatement to say that many of these cases are a matter of life or death. Currently, the need for legal representation is overwhelming, and public interest law firms, migrant advocacy groups, and government programs cannot meet it. According to the Department of Justice, 42% of more than 20,000 unaccompanied children in deportation proceedings from July 2014 to December 2015 had no legal representation.

Not surprisingly, the trial outcomes are frequently heartbreaking. Since 2004, more than half of unaccompanied minors without a lawyer were deported. Nearly 60% of these children would have qualified for some form of humanitarian protection under international law (U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees), but without the guidance of legal counsel, they would be unlikely to claim these protections.

And immigrant children are not the only ones facing the overwhelming odds of deportation when legal counsel is not provided. Migrant men and women are similarly ineligible for a court-appointed attorney, and find it extremely difficult to obtain counsel. The impact of self-representation—on length of detention, deportation relief, and family separation—is staggering. On the other hand, when legal representation is engaged (only 37% of cases), immigrants are 4 times more likely to be released from detention, 11 times more likely to apply for deportation relief, and more than twice as likely to successfully obtain that relief. (For more information, see: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/access-counsel-immigration-court. )

Despite the recent rejection of the lawsuit, the ACLU and other migrant advocacy and immigrant rights groups will appeal the ruling as the number of unaccompanied children rises once more. Citing the frightening violence in Central America that many of these children are fleeing, Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU (and a 2016 MacArthur Fellow; see other article in this newsletter) commented, “It’s not an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of children whose lives are at stake. If they receive an attorney, they’re far more likely to be able to present and win their claims for asylum. If they do not have an attorney, it’s virtually impossible for them to do that.” And so the fight—a legal one, with dire real-life implications—continues.

NOTE: The class action lawsuit, J.E.F.M v. Lynch, was filed in Seattle, WA by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Immigration Council, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L LLP on behalf of thousands of children who meet the following criteria: (1) under 18 in immigration proceedings in the Ninth Circuit on or after June 24, 2016; (2) lack legal counsel; (3) unable to afford an attorney; and (4) potentially eligible for asylum or make claims to U.S. citizenship. The suit charged the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the Office of Refugee Settlement. In failing to provide court-appointed attorneys to unaccompanied minors in immigration court, they were charged with violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing.”

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Immigration and Border Work Recognized by MacArthur Foundation

Twenty-three writers, artists, scientists, educators, and other people of vision were honored this year with prestigious MacArthur grants; five of them are doing work that advances our understanding of immigration, the immigrant experience, and the border.

Each year the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation distributes their widely anticipated “genius” grants, in recognition of extraordinary “originality, insight and potential” in a range of fields impacting the arts, science, and the overall cultural fabric locally, nationally and internationally. Awarded since 1981, the fellowships are granted to individuals who have been anonymously nominated, then evaluated by panel of 12 similarly unknown experts in their respective fields. Finally, winners are informed and announcements are made with great fanfare, not least because the award brings with it incredible validation and a no-strings-attached grant of $625,000 distributed over five years. The accolades and cash go a long way toward furthering important work when it’s ripe for growth and greater impact.

The 2016 MacArthur fellows—23 in all—include five recipients who are working on issues affecting immigrant rights, communities and cultural appreciation. Here they are with condensed bios from the MacArthur Foundation website. (A full list is available at: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/class-2016/ .)Remember their names—you’ll be hearing more from them.

  • Ahilan Arulanantham: Human Rights Lawyer
    Director of Advocacy and Legal Director
    American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA
    “Ahilan Arulanantham is an attorney working to secure the right to due process for individuals facing deportation. Through advocacy and successful litigation of a series of landmark cases, Arulanantham has expanded immigrant detainees’ access to legal representation and limited the government’s power to detain them indefinitely. Courts have traditionally characterized deportation proceedings as civil cases, which means defendants do not have many of the rights guaranteed to criminal defendants, including the right to counsel and the right to ask for release on bond. As a result, immigrants going through deportation hearings often have to represent themselves in complex proceedings, during which they can be detained for months or even years…Through his incremental approach and careful selection of cases, Arulanantham works to demonstrate the human costs of denying due process to immigrants and to set vital precedents to expand the rights of non-citizens.” Arulanantham worked on the recent class action lawsuit to obtain court-appointed attorneys for unaccompanied children in immigration court. (See other article in this newsletter.) More at: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/953/.
  • Josh Kun: Cultural Historian
    Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA
    “Josh Kun is a cultural historian exploring the ways in which the arts and popular culture are conduits for cross-cultural exchange. In work that spans academic scholarship, exhibitions, and performances, Kun unearths and brings to life forgotten historical narratives through finely grained analyses of material and sonic manifestations of popular culture. He complicates our understanding of the evolution of racial and ethnic identity in America in works such as Audiotopia (2006), a comprehensive comparative study of African American, Jewish American, Mexican American, and Mexican popular music, and…To Live and Dine in LA: Menus and the Making of the Modern City (2015),” which explores “the diverse and vibrant culture of Los Angeles, with an emphasis on bringing present-day communities together around historical intersections of cultural expression…In these and many other projects, including cultural studies of the U.S.-Mexico border, Kun is showing how communities that may have historically been seen as separate actually have much in common.” More at: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/961/.
  • José A. Quiñonez: Financial Services Innovator
    Mission Asset Fund
    San Francisco, CA
    “José A. Quiñonez is a financial services innovator creating a pathway to mainstream financial services and non-predatory credit for individuals with limited or no financial access. A disproportionate number of minority, immigrant, and low-income households are invisible to banks and credit institutions, meaning they have no checking or savings accounts (unbanked), make frequent use of nonbank financial services (underbanked), or lack a credit report with a nationwide credit-reporting agency. Without bank accounts or a credit history, it is nearly impossible to obtain safe loans for automobiles, homes, and businesses or to rent an apartment…Quiñonez is helping individuals overcome these challenges by linking rotating credit associations or lending circles, a traditional cultural practice from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, to the formal financial sector…[His] visionary leadership is providing low-income and minority families with the means to secure safe credit, participate more fully in the American economy, and obtain financial security.” More at: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/966/.
  • Sarah Stillman: Long-Form Journalist
    The New Yorker
    New York, NY
    “Sarah Stillman is a long-form journalist providing new and compelling perspectives on social injustices in stories of people usually invisible to mainstream reporting. Stillman has written on a wide range of topics both in the United States and abroad, including the use and abuse of civil asset forfeiture, the perils faced by young police informants, and the kidnapping of undocumented children at the U.S.-Mexico border…Committed to following many-faceted stories through to their conclusion, no matter where and how long it takes her, Stillman teases out the complex forces driving the marginalization of her subjects…In bringing to light the plight of those at the margins, Stillman is changing the terms of debate around even well-covered issues and demonstrating the continued power and relevance of long-form, immersive journalism.” More at: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/972/.
  • Gene Luen Yang: Graphic Novelist
    San Jose, CA
    “Gene Luen Yang is a graphic novelist and cartoonist whose work for young adults demonstrates the potential of comics to broaden our understanding of diverse cultures and people. Yang has produced full-length graphic novels, short stories, and serial comics, many of which explore present-day and historical events through a contemporary Chinese American lens…In American-Born Chinese (2006), Yang integrates tropes from American comics, Chinese folklore, and the Chinese immigrant experience. Three interlocking narratives contribute to a nuanced depiction of the struggles of adolescent Jin Wang as he comes to terms with his bicultural identity and attempts to assimilate in America…Having written much of his work while employed as a high school computer science teacher, Yang recognizes the instructional value of comics…[and] is leading the way in bringing diverse characters to children’s and young adult literature and confirming comics’ place as an important creative and imaginative force within literature and art.” More at: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/975/
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.

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.

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Immigration in the News

The news this month includes several articles about the dangers migrants encounter throughout the world, and coverage of notable government, citizen, and artist efforts to support and aid migrants. In addition, there are a number of southern Arizona stories, documenting literacy education for immigrant women, public demands to close private detention centers in the state, and the continuing defeat of SB 1070.

From Fronteras (9/6/16), news of the first dental school at the U.S.–Mexico border, to open in 2020: http://fronterasdesk.org/content/10414/first-dental-school-us-mexico-border-open-2020

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KBI October Announcements

Be sure to check out the UA-sponsored Tucson Humanities Festival this week; the focus is refuge, and the impact of migration, climate change, and displacement. Also, along with the holidays, Giving Tuesday approaches—a chance to support the KBI during a season of thanks.

  • Tucson Humanities Festival: This year, the Tucson Humanities Festival (formerly Humanities Week) focuses on the theme of refuge and runs from October 10–17, 2016. Sponsored by the University of Arizona, the festival includes lectures by Humanities faculty and invited presenters on the impact of migration, climate change, and displacement. For more information, see: http://humanities.arizona.edu/tucson-humanities-festival.
  • Giving Tuesday: Mark the date—Tuesday, November 29—as an opportunity to make a gift to the Kino Border Initiative! Giving Tuesday is a nationwide campaign that reminds us of the importance of charity in the midst of the holiday abundance. Help us provide hope and support to migrant men, women and children as we advocate for more just and humane immigration policies. You can donate here, on Giving Tuesday or anytime, with our deep thanks: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/get-involved/donate/.
The Tucson Humanities Festival takes place from October 10–17, 2016.

The Tucson Humanities Festival takes place from October 10–17, 2016.

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In-Kind Donations for the KBI

Fall is a great time for cleaning out—and taking up a collection for the KBI. Please consider pulling together the items you no longer want or need, and making an in-kind donation of clothing, shoes or toiletries. Or organize a drive at your church or school, as Brophy College Preparatory did a couple of years back. Their Halloween “Boo Jean” day inspired many students to “wear a pair and bring a pair,” providing much-needed replacements for migrants visiting the KBI. Clean clothing and hot meals address immediate practical needs, but they also help to restore a modicum of dignity and hope during a time of uncertainty and upheaval.

Our warehouse can always use clothing that is in good shape, particularly men’s and women’s jeans (men’s waist 29–34) and underwear (sizes small and medium). And travel-size toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste) are particularly helpful. To make an in-kind donation, please contact Ivette Fuentes at ifuentes@kinoborderinitiative.org or (520) 287-2370, Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 2:30pm. Thank you for providing these critical necessities!

KBI staff and volunteers help the migrants at the comedor select the garments they need. Photo by Roxane Ramos.

KBI staff and volunteers help the migrants at the comedor select the garments they need.
Photo by Roxane Ramos.


A creative way to spur donations: The students of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix wore jeans on Halloween and brought pairs to donate to the KBI for their “Boo Jean” campaign. Photo from Brophy College Preparatory.

A creative way to spur donations: The students of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix wore jeans on Halloween and brought pairs to donate to the KBI for their “Boo Jean” campaign.
Photo from Brophy College Preparatory.

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