More Room at the Table

With a record number of KBI supporters gathering for the Seventh Annual KBI Dinner, the event moved to a larger venue, raised more funds than ever before, and sent a strong message about advocacy, inclusion, and compassion.

The yearly KBI fundraising dinners in Phoenix are always occasions for both celebration—of the continuing work of the KBI on behalf of migrants—and reflection—about the suffering faced by migrants and their families, and how we can come together to ease it. The Seventh Annual KBI Dinner on Saturday, March 25, was no exception, with education and advocacy as central themes. As a major cornerstone of the KBI’s fundraising efforts, the event exceeded all expectation by raising more than $175,000 for the KBI’s crucial programming.

The 370 guests in attendance—one-hundred more than last year!—initially gathered in the courtyard of Brophy College Preparatory, to mingle with each other and KBI staff, enjoy the donated libations, and place bids on silent auction items, which included migrant artwork, gift baskets, Mata Ortiz pottery, Diamondback and Phoenix Sun tickets, a photograph of Michelangelo’s Pietà, and more. The gentle breeze carried melodious guitar strains contributed by the talented Paul Fisko, Brophy assistant principal for ministry. As in years past, Paul led the guests into Harper Great Hall with music, where beautifully set tables were adorned with potted herb centerpieces, planted and assembled by the eighth-grade National Honor Society students of St. Francis Xavier Elementary who included touching thank you notes to those in attendance. (These were auctioned to enthusiastic bidders at the end of the evening.)

After a blessing from Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix, guests were invited to experience the KBI through a demonstration by the KBI’s Sister Alicia Guevara Perez and a moving video from Brophy instructor Peter Burr. Sister Alicia led everyone in a hand motion exercise she performs with the migrants at the comedor each morning, alternating right and left, and engaging the brain and body in a therapeutic way that restores a sense of lightness and laughter, and encourages connection with other participants. After the exercise, the feeling of togetherness in the room was palpable as Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the KBI, welcomed everyone and acknowledged their generous support for the KBI’s direct aid, advocacy, education, and research. (Watch a video of Sister Alicia doing these exercises with the migrants in the comedor, below.)

Peter Burr’s video, “Kino Border Initiative: The Church Without Frontiers,” built on that unity and empathy by sharing specific migrant stories told by those who had lived the experience. Many of those gathered had heard such narratives before, directly or indirectly, but for those guests new to the KBI’s bi-national work and mission, the film was particularly transformative, revealing a side to the immigration debate we rarely see in mainstream media. (Watch the video at: https://vimeo.com/206180020 .)

A highlight of the festivities was the Pope Francis Award, honoring the long-time service and dedication of KBI supporter Frank M. Barrios, also board president of the Phoenix St. Vincent de Paul Society, a local historian and author, and an active community leader. As in previous years, the award was a striking portrait of a migrant by Tucson artist Pamela Hoffmeister, an acknowledgement of how seeing faces and hearing stories helps create and strengthen the bond among all of us. Indeed the dinner guests were surrounded by migrant photographs and images from the KBI, testifying to our common humanity.

Throughout, emcee Rick DeBruhl kept the program moving along, taking on auction duties after dinner. Live auction items included a day of golf with private lessons; a painting by international artist Hilario Gutierrez; and two prizes so popular, they were auctioned twice— a round-trip airplane ride for dinner in Sedona; and a KBI weekend with dinner prepared by Fathers Sean and Pete at the Nogales Jesuit residence and a night at the Tubac Golf and Spa Resort. As a last-minute addition, KBI staff brought along another exquisitely rendered painting by a migrant artist depicting a father comforting his child on the migrant trail. Father Dan Sullivan, S.J., pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Phoenix, offered a benediction to close the evening.

With immigration issues at the fore, Dinner Committee co-chairs Darci Haydukovich and Debbie DiCarlo planned and orchestrated this remarkable event, sensitive to the role it plays in advancing education and encouraging advocacy for migrants. Along with seven devoted committee members and 37 table captains, they filled the hall with supporters, raising both awareness and funds. Though it is one evening, this level of commitment affirms the work and extends the mission of the KBI all year long.

THANK YOU!

Many thanks to all who donated to the Seventh Annual Kino Border Initiative Dinner and who made this annual fundraiser possible, specifically: Darci Haydukovich and Debbie DiCarlo, in their second year of co-chairing the event, and the entire Phoenix Dinner Committee of Linda Replogle, Lisa Grant, Mary Johnson, Mary Novotny, Patti Thoeny, Bob Ryan, Lucy Howell, Dora Vasquez, Javier Fierro, Mary Permoda, Maddie Murphy-Larkin, Pete Burr, Paul Fisko, Rose Circello, and Father Sean Carroll, S.J. We also thank Brophy College Preparatory for hosting the evening; the Brophy College Preparatory students who provided reception and dinner service; Wren House Brewing Company for the beer and an anonymous donor for the wine; The Society of St. Vincent de Paul for the Pietá photograph; artist Pamela Hoffmeister for her migrant portrait for the Pope Francis Award; Rick DeBruhl for covering emcee and auctioneer duties; Brophy assistant principal for ministry Paul Fisko for his musical accompaniment; Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares of Phoenix for his opening blessing and Father Dan Sullivan, S.J. of St. Francis Xavier Church for his closing benediction; Patti Thoeny and the eighth-grade National Honors Society of St. Francis Xavier Elementary and their advisor and teacher Cari Sheedy for the lovely centerpieces; Dora Vasquez for additional centerpieces; St. Francis Xavier Elementary for the donated linens; Sharko’s for the fine catering; registration table helpers Valerie, Katie, and Jenny Howell, Lori Reents, and Christabella Parra; Brophy teacher Pete Burr for the moving video of the KBI’s work at the border; Maddie Murphy-Larkin for taking photographs; and KBI staff and board members for their invaluable assistance. Thank you, all!

NOTE: Check out the Cronkite News coverage of the event at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktgc4LdiRC8

At the reception, Father Sean with Greg and Taylor Maldonado, winning bidders of the one of two KBI Weekends at the live auction.

Silent auction items displayed in the courtyard.

Wooden crosses painted by migrant artists at the KBI comedor.

The co-chair husbands Rich DiCarlo and Steve Haydukovich were able and amiable bartenders.

KBI Board president Lucy Howell flanked by her husband Steve and Brophy assistant principal for ministry Paul Fisko.

Father Dan Sullivan, S.J., the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Community, with Father Sean in Brophy’s Harper Great Hall.

Emcee and auctioneer Rick DeBruhl taking bids behind the Pope Francis Award, a migrant portrait by Pamela Hoffmeister.

Diana and Rodrigo Vela won a beautiful migrant painting, a last-minute addition to the live auction.

Julie and James Allen with one of the herbal centerpieces, grown and assembled by the eighth-grade National Honor Society of St. Francis Xavier Elementary, and auctioned at the dinner.

The week after: Pope Francis Award honoree Frank Barrios with the migrant portrait he received at the dinner.

The week after: Co-chairs Darci Haydukovich and Debbie DiCarlo with thank-you bouquets for their exceptional event planning.

The week after: The KBI Dinner Committee gathers to assess this year’s event and start planning next year’s.

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Miguel and Clara: Families and Our Immigration System

When university journalism student Miguel faced threats in his homeland of Honduras, he fled north with his wife, Clara, pregnant with their first child. Upon their arrival in Nogales, Sonora, Paloma was born, but though the family was together for her birth—and later, for the happy occasion of her baptism at the KBI!—separation and uncertainty await as they seek asylum.

After months of bus rides heading north from their native Honduras—including weeks of detention in southern Mexico by immigration authorities there—Miguel and Clara reached both the culmination of their journey and Clara’s pregnancy. Her water broke as she departed the bus in Nogales, Sonora, and their daughter, Paloma, was born in a local hospital. Hearing about available migrant resources nearby, Miguel and Clara sought the help of the KBI who arranged for their shelter and care as advocacy staff began researching the best ways to assist the family in seeking asylum in the U.S.

Six months earlier, Miguel was a journalism student in the Honduran capital city of Tegucigalpa, and with Clara only a few months into her pregnancy, both prepared for the arrival of their first child with the usual excitement of new parents. But as a student and journalist with a commitment to freedom of speech, Miguel was threatened by parties associated with both the university and local gangs. Though he filed a police report, local law enforcement could only offer one or two of days of protection. In a country with the highest homicide rate in the world—59 murders for every 100,000 people in 2016 compared to an international average of 6 per 100,000 or the U.S. rate of 4—this was as good as no assurance at all. Miguel and Clara packed and left, with the goal of seeking asylum in the U.S.

Their journey was interrupted early on when Mexican immigration authorities detained the couple, releasing them with the instruction to go back to Honduras. But to return to such life-threatening odds, and with a baby on the horizon, was unthinkable. They kept going, arriving in Nogales in early April, just in time for Paloma’s entry into the world. Two weeks later, before undertaking the next part of the journey with her parents, she was baptized at the comedor with the KBI’s Joanna Williams and her husband Matthew standing up as godparents. A full dining hall gathered to honor this first-ever occasion for the KBI with a Mass and a special meal of grilled chicken and pink cake.

Despite all the love, faith and support surrounding Paloma at the start of her life, she and her parents face an uncertain future as they navigate the U.S. asylum process. KBI advocates are keenly aware of the worrisome factors: (1) the separation of Clara and Paloma, who will stay with a sponsoring family or community, from Miguel who will be held in a detention facility; (2) the independent routing of their asylum cases which would be stronger if considered together, since their claim rests on a threat to Miguel; and (3) the great emotional pain and uncertainty that this young family must bear while apart. It is just such legal matters on which the KBI’s new legal fellow (sponsored in conjunction with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project) can advise starting in August as well as providing representation for Clara and Miguel.

Like the other infants who have stayed at the KBI, Paloma fills the shelter and comedor with delight, and brings a sense of hope and promise to the migrants, volunteers, and staff. As the KBI works to help her family, as Clara marks her first Mother’s Day, as she and Miguel ready themselves for the uncertainties ahead, Paloma reminds all of us why family unity, human dignity, and compassionate immigration policy are the foundation of the KBI’s mission.

Standing up as godmother, the KBI’s Joanna Williams, cradles Paloma with (l. to r.) her husband and Paloma’s godfather Matthew and Paloma’s parents, Clara and Miguel.
Photo by Sister María Engracia Robles Robles, M.E.

Godparents Joanna and Matthew with baby Paloma at the post-baptism party.
Photo by Sister María Engracia Robles Robles, M.E.

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KBI Media Report: April 2017

This month’s media report covers the continuation and escalation of harsh deportation policies that misrepresent immigrants, invite abuses, and separate families.

Embed from Getty Images. The current administration plans to expand the already extensive immigrant detention system of more than 400 centers to include local correctional facilities. (Pictured: A blind detainee walks with a fellow immigrant at the privately-run Adelanto Detention Facility in California.) Photo by Getty Images/John Moore/Staff.

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KBI May Announcements

Last month, the KBI released a statement on border security, signed by numerous southern Arizona organizations, hosted a live video conference and high school immersion experiences, and bid bon voyage to the Lourdes Kino Teens who set off for a visit to the Bay Area with Father Pete Neeley, S.J. This coming month, the Board of Directors holds their spring meeting.

    • Solidarity at the Border: The KBI joined 17 other southern Arizona groups in releasing a Statement on Border Security. It denounces the militarization at the border as a policy that is unsafe, ineffective, and unsupportive of humanity and the broader environment. Read the entire statement here: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/southern-arizona-statement-community-security/.
    • Live Video Conversations: On Tuesday, April 25, the KBI and the Ignatian Solidarity Network hosted an hour-long live video conference, entitled “Witness from the Border.” The live event featured KBI Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams in conversation with Andrés, a migrant in Nogales, Sonora sharing his experience and St. Louis University students who has stepped up advocacy efforts since visiting the border. There will be more of these live conversations later this year, the next one scheduled for September. We’ll announce the date and time soon. And here is the video from the recent conversation:

  • Kino Teens in the Bay Area: At the end of April, Father Pete Neeley, S.J. led a three-day trip to the Bay Area with the Lourdes Catholic School Kino Teens. The students visited their Kino Teens counterparts at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, and Presentation High School and Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose (who also sent students to the KBI for an immersion in April). Among the highlights, Lourdes Kino Teens met with past immersion participants, and Leadership Days students Yamelle González and Ana González gave presentations, prepared with the assistance of Teresita Scully, campus minister and theology teacher at Lourdes, about the migrant experience and immigrant advocacy to classes at Presentation.
  • Immersion Experiences: This past month, high school students from both coasts joined the KBI for immersion experiences.
Immersion Group # of participants # of days at the KBI
Xavier High School

New York, NY

12 participants 7 days
Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, CA 8 participants 4 days
Presentation High School

San Jose, CA

6 participants 4 days

 

  • Spring Board Meeting: Members of the KBI Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, May 25, in Nogales, Sonora, to discuss governance issues and review reports from various committees, including Advocacy, Development, Finance, Governance, and Ad Hoc Building.

Father Pete Neeley, S.J. addresses the Kino Teens at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, CA.

Lourdes Kino Teens Yamelle González and Ana González give a presentation on the migrant experience and immigrant advocacy at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, CA.

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Supporting Migrant Mothers and Children

As the demographics of immigration shift and more women with children are undertaking the journey across the U.S.–Mexico border, the KBI has encountered more deported families and has responded with greater advocacy efforts on behalf of this most vulnerable group. As we celebrate Mother’s Day in both the U.S. and Mexico, we invite you to make a contribution to the KBI in support of this vital work, as we strive to preserve human dignity and family unity for the migrants we serve and for those we never meet. You can donate at: https://www.kinoborderinitiative.org/get-involved/donate/. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

The KBI encounters more and more migrant mothers traveling with their children to escape violence and poverty and to seek a better life.
Photo by Larry Hanelin.

 

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Southern Arizona Statement on Community Security

We as southern Arizona groups and other allies denounce the militarization of our communities, which is represented at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, and instead take this opportunity to highlight what security truly means to our community.

Security means the prioritization of human life and human dignity. That means an end to the strategy of enforcement through deterrence, which pushes individuals to harsh and deadly terrain, as well as other enforcement techniques that lead to a loss of life. It means special respect for the dignity of indigenous communities along the border and their right to cultural preservation and autonomous government and culture, without interference from Border Patrol.

Security means protection of individuals fleeing violence. Those individuals should be treated with dignity and given a fair opportunity to present their case. They must not be re-traumatized by prolonged detention, isolation and lack of legal representation. They should be treated as victims of violence and not threats to our society.

Security means respect for local decision-making and leadership in our border communities. Community members should be able to trust local law enforcement, which means that local agencies should be able to engage in community policing and address the needs of the area without the intervention of Border Patrol.

Security means fair and just application of the rule of law. Our judicial resources should be devoted to making the community safer and not prosecuting and incarcerating individuals simply for crossing the border. We must end criminal prosecutions of immigrants, including Operation Streamline. Law enforcement officials, particularly Border Patrol, should be held accountable for their actions. There must be respect for the constitutional and human rights of migrants, community members, and families of the deceased. The waiver of more than three dozen federal protections along the border by the Bush Administration should be reversed, the rule of law reinstated, and no further waivers should be issued.

Security means protection of our unique and beautiful natural environment. Wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, national forests, and other protected lands on the border host a diversity of species and critical ecosystems. These spaces must be guarded from the harmful environmental impacts of vehicles, barriers, roads and technology.

We call on our community members and government officials to truly work toward these forms of community security and protection.

Supporting Organizations

American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona

American Friends Service Committee, Arizona

Borderlinks

Colibrí Center for Human Rights

Cruzando Fronteras

End Streamline Coalition

Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans

Kino Border Initiative

League of United Latin American Citizens

Patagonia Area Resource Alliance

San Solano Missions

Sierra Club

Southern Arizona Interfaith

Southside Presbyterian Church

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Nogales

St. Francis in the Foothills Church

The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ, Sahuarita, AZ

Tucson Samaritans

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The KBI Advocates for Asylum Seekers

At a recent hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the KBI’s Joanna Williams joined representatives from other immigrant advocacy groups to present evidence of obstructive actions and other abuses faced by those requesting asylum in the U.S.

At the recent Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearings in Washington, D.C., the Kino Border Initiative offered testimony on ways in which U.S. border policies and practices prevent asylum seekers from making claims and building successful cases for credible fear. Broadly, these include turning away refugees at the U.S.–Mexico port of entry, separating families, and subjecting detainees to prolonged detention and inhumane conditions in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities. Director of Education and Advocacy Joanna Williams presented evidence on abuses and negligence by the CBP, collected from migrants who visited the KBI comedor and stayed at the shelter in 2016. Based these reports of abuse and poor conditions, the KBI filed 22 complaints with the CBP on behalf of migrants (14 of them cited in Joanna’s testimony).

Over five days, the IACHR conducted 40 hearings, each directed at a particular member state who sends one or more representatives to respond, make a statement, or take notes. The hearing in which the KBI participated, entitled “Policies that Prevent Access to Asylum in the U.S.,” was requested by fourteen human rights and immigrant advocacy groups, and was one of three hearings that named the U.S. as the state in question. For all three, the U.S. failed to appear, phoning the day before to bow out and following up with a written statement asserting that attendance was inappropriate because the subjects covered in the hearings were currently being litigated. To put this in context, failure to appear is extremely rare, occurring only a handful of times in the history of the hearings. Over the past two decades, the U.S. itself has always sent a representative to IACHR hearings—even during potentially contentious hearings about racial discrimination in the criminal justice system or treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay—until now.

To provide some background on the role of the IACHR, it is an arm of the Organization of American States, charged with promoting and protecting human rights in the Americas. In addition to fostering cooperation and solidarity among its 35 member states, the IACHR monitors human rights situations in these regions by holding periodic hearings, conducting site visits, organizing fact-finding missions, and distributing press releases on urgent issues. While the IACHR has no enforcement power, much like the United Nations, its influence arises from the moral weight of its charter, the collective consensus behind its mission, and its high-profile ability to exert international pressure on states in violation of human rights standards.

For these reasons, the KBI and the other petitioning organizations requested a hearing to raise awareness about the human rights violations affecting asylum seekers, an issue that has become more urgent and distressing over time. Joanna’s contribution to the hearing appears below, and specifically covers abuses and poor conditions in CBP facilities, inadequate training of officers, and willfully ignored asylum claims. For anyone unfamiliar with the intimidating bureaucracy and abusive practices faced by many asylum seekers, it is an eye-opening deposition. (You can watch the entire hearing at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2WzxKDctHM; Joanna’s testimony begins at 19:30.) It is important to remember that individuals and families from other countries have a legal right to seek asylum in the U.S. The KBI stands by these refugees, and with its partner organizations, strives to ensure their protection, access to due process, and recognition of their human rights and dignity.

ABUSIVE CONDITIONS AND TREATMENT WITHIN CBP FACILITIES:

In addition to separation of asylum-seeking families, we also have long-standing concerns about abusive conditions and treatment of individuals in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities. There are three key areas within this concern: first, the very environment of holding cells is hostile to asylum claims; second, CBP officers and agents are not trained to screen individuals seeking protection; and third, CBP officers and agents willfully ignore or discourage asylum claims. At the Kino Border Initiative, we hear of these issues directly from recently deported Mexicans in our aid center in Nogales, Sonora.

CBP holds individuals for days in sparse holding cells as they are processed for expedited removal. The environment is inherently intimidating, lacks privacy, and is not conducive to vulnerable individuals reporting fear of return. Agents themselves frequently ignore expressions of fear or discourage individuals from pursuing asylum claims. Fourteen percent of men and twenty percent of women report experiencing verbal abuse while in CBP custody. Recent initiatives, such as the Alien Smuggling Incident Team, focus on pressing individuals to provide testimony against their smugglers and do not screen individual fear. For example, four women fleeing gender-based persecution from an indigenous region of Oaxaca were held for a month as material witnesses in the beginning of 2017 and were then removed without ever being asked about fear of return.

CBP agents do not receive training to adequately screen individuals fleeing persecution. Agents are not trained in trauma awareness, and frequently male agents interview female migrants. Non-Spanish speakers only receive eight weeks of language training at the Border Patrol Academy, which is inadequate for agents to understand the subtlety of expressions of fear. CBP rarely if ever uses interpretation into indigenous languages, although it is theoretically possible through telephone language services. Agents frequently give inaccurate information to asylum seekers. For example, organizations, including the KBI, have documented instances where agents have told individuals that Mexicans do not qualify for asylum, or Border Patrol informed individuals that they must present at the port to seek asylum. The planned rapid expansion of CBP—by hiring 5,000 more agents—will unfortunately preclude better training of agents in these critical areas, and we are concerned that standards will be lowered to increase hiring.

Despite repeated recommendations from NGOs (non-governmental organizations), CBP does not perform spot checks on compliance with their obligation to refer individuals to asylum interviews if they express fear. When CBP agents document responses to questions about fear on form I-867, the information often contradicts what the individual says. Those inaccuracies create serious challenges later in the asylum process, especially given the recently heightened standards for credible fear interviews. Most of the fourteen complaints filed by the Kino Border Initiative on behalf of migrants removed to Mexico despite fear of return have been investigated by the local station management and not by the Office of Professional Responsibility. CBP does not use video recording nor undercover spot inspections, which would provide a more accurate measure of compliance than agent testimony. Related accountability concerns are rampant, and we urge this Commission to bring attention to this issue by taking up any CBP misconduct case currently before them. People have the right to seek and receive asylum, under U.S. and international law, and by not creating mechanisms to ensure agents comply with the law, especially by not seriously investigating complaints, the U.S. places individuals at a great risk of suffering harm, and is in violation of its obligations under international law, including the Inter-American declaration and agreements.

PETITIONING ORGANIZATIONS: The organizations who came together to request an asylum access hearing are: American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Human Rights First, Innovation Law Lab, Institute for Women in Migration, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, Kino Border Initiative, Latin America Working Group, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School, Washington Office on Latin America, and Women’s Refugee Commission.

Along with representatives from other advocacy and human rights groups, Joanna testified at the IACHR hearing on access to asylum in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

 

Joanna offers testimony on Customs and Border Patrol abuses at the IACHR hearing in Washington, D.C. last month.
Photo courtesy of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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Rosario’s Story: The Plight and Flight of Asylum Seekers

Immigrants often leave dangerous circumstances, risking everything for a chance to create a better, safer life elsewhere. For Rosario, as for many female migrants and refugees, sexual violence, children’s welfare, and one’s very survival are factors.

When eighteen-year-old Rosario arrived at the KBI women’s shelter in March, she was seven months pregnant. Accompanied by three female cousins, she’d travelled from Oaxaca to the U.S.–Mexico border to flee the political violence and armed conflicts of her indigenous Triqui homeland to seek protection and apply for asylum in the U.S. The four women, though not charged with a crime themselves, were detained in a U.S. federal prison for a month to testify against their smuggler—no asylum information provided, no investigation of credible fear, no Triqui interpreter for the two women who did not speak Spanish—before being deported to Nogales, Mexico where they encountered the KBI.

As heartbreaking as Rosario’s detention experience was, what brought her to the border in the first place is even more harrowing. In August, she was raped when going to the store, an all-too-common occurrence for women in the Triqui region where rape and sexual violence have become weapons in what is effectively an undeclared war among different local factions. (Rosario’s cousins also suffered gender-based violence.) In a culture of arranged marriages and negotiated “bride prices,” rape “devalues” the assaulted woman in the eyes of the community and families she might marry into. It also creates opportunities for blackmail and extortion by political groups—of the victim’s family and of possibly innocent men who stand accused.

When she discovered the pregnancy two months later, the Triqui authorities took Rosario and her mother into custody, not to ascertain if a crime occurred and investigate, but to tie them up and force them to falsely accuse another man of the rape for extortion purposes. When Rosario refused to make a false accusation, she was told she had to pay a “fine” of 80,000 pesos (about US$4,250), an enormous sum. She and her mother spent 8 days in jail without food or water. She was finally released with the stipulation that she collect and deliver the money demanded. Instead, she headed north.

After enduring the traumatic violence of her homeland, a 1,600-mile journey, a month in federal prison, and deportation—all while pregnant—Rosario was able to recover in a secure and supportive environment, learn more about her rights, and consider her options while at the KBI shelter. Knowing that returning to the Triqui region could result in incarceration, harm, or even death for herself and her child, she has decided to apply for asylum in the U.S., as have her cousins. Now a mother, Rosario awaits the outcome of her asylum case and the chance of a new, safe home for herself and her newborn.

Embed from Getty Images. The indigenous Triqui have lived with violence from within their community and from state-sanctioned forces for decades. Here, a Triqui woman demonstrates in the city of San Juan Copala. Photo from Getty Images/AFP.

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KBI Media Report: March 2017

Our report this month focuses on some of the KBI’s advocacy priorities. Read a recent publication about family separation, a reflection on the importance of accompaniment, an article about allegations of sexual assault by Customs and Border Patrol agents, and a piece about the KBI’s work and the legacy of Jesuit advocacy.

    • The Impact of Detention and Deportation on Families: More and more families and children are among those seeking safety and security in the U.S. over the past five years. Yet, the U.S. has failed to change immigration policy to address these shifting demographics. To document these changes and the challenges they pose, the Women’s Refugee Commission, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service, and Kids in Need of Defense have published “Betraying Family Values: How Immigration Policy at the United States Border Is Separating Families.” The report includes cases and data from the KBI. Read more and download the full report at: https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/rights/gbv/resources/1450-betraying-family-values.
    • The Meaning of Accompaniment: During this time of greater uncertainty for migrants and refugees, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a pastoral reflection encouraging Catholics to accompany those “who seek a better life in the United States” through prayer, community support, and advocacy. Read more from the Catholic News Service here: http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2017/us-catholics-asked-to-accompany-migrants-refugees-seeking-better-life.cfm.
    • Gender-based Violence at the Border: As the number of women migrants has increased, so too have the instances of sexual assault, by strangers en route, smugglers, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers. While some dimensions of gender-based violence are difficult to stop, KBI is especially concerned by allegations of assault by US authorities. Here, the Los Angeles Times covers a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Northern California on behalf of two Guatemalan sisters who allege that they were sexually assaulted by CBP officers while detained: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-teen-border-patrol-sex-assault-20170322-story.html.
    • KBI Direct Aid and Advocacy: This article from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S. offers a profile of the KBI, its work with deported migrants at the U.S.–Mexico border, and the Jesuit commitment to those who are persecuted, marginalized, or in need: http://www.jesuits.org/story?TN=PROJECT-20170327115833.
Embed from Getty Images. More and more women and children are crossing the U.S.–Mexico border to flee violent situations. Photo from Getty Images/Getty Images News/Dana Romanoff

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KBI April Announcements

We are excited to share news of a wonderfully successful Annual KBI Dinner, which exceeded fundraising goals, a new legal fellow position to aid asylum seekers, Father Pete Neeley’s upcoming trip to the Bay Area with the Lourdes Kino Teens, and the March immersion experiences at the KBI.

  • KBI Annual Dinner: The Seventh Annual KBI Dinner was a tremendous success, raising over $160,000 through ticket sales, an auction, and other donations. Held on Saturday, March 25, at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, the event drew an unprecedented 370 attendees whose support underwrites the KBI’s ongoing aid, advocacy, education, and research programs. Dinner highlights included the Pope Francis Award, given to Frank Barrios for his unwavering support of the KBI, and moving video about the migrant experience and the spiritual, material, and advocacy support the KBI offers. (Watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/206180020). Our heartfelt thanks to Dinner Committee co-chairs Darci Haydukovich and Debbie DiCarlo, the hard-working Committee members, and the generous guests and others donors who fill our hearts and extend our work. Look for a full report on the Dinner in next month’s newsletter.
  • FIRRP–KBI Legal Fellow Position: In collaboration with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project (FIRRP), the KBI is pleased to announce a new 18-month, full-time fellowship to provide legal representation to asylum seekers who arrive at the KBI comedor and shelter, and remain in detention in southern Arizona as they go through the asylum process. The position is a response to the great need for legal expertise and access among those requesting asylum in the U.S. For more information and to download a job description, go to: https://firrp.org/media/KBI-Legal-Fellow_Job-Posting_3-31-17.pdf. Please share with the great legal minds and networks in your circle, and many thanks for helping us get the word out!
  • The KBI on the Road: This month, Father Pete Neeley, S.J. will lead a trip to the Bay Area with the Lourdes Catholic School Kino Teens. They will be visiting St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, and Presentation High School and Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose. At St. Ignatius, their schedule includes a day of activities and an evening event. At Presentation, Leadership Days students Yamelle Gonzalez and Ana Gonzalez will give presentations on the migrant experience and immigrant advocacy to classes there, followed by meetings with immersion participants from Presentation and Bellarmine. Best wishes and safe travels to our KBI emissaries!
  • Immersion Experiences: Spring break offers a wonderful opportunity for students to experience the border on a KBI immersion trip. Here are the groups who participated in immersions in March.
Immersion Group # of participants # of days at the KBI
St. Louis University
St. Louis, MO
10 participants 3 days
St. Louis University High School, St. Louis, MO 12 participants 6 days
Loyola University, School of Social Work, Chicago, IL 16 participants 3 days
Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.
14 participants 2 days
Brophy College Preparatory
Phoenix, AZ
12 participants 1 day
Notre Dame Preparatory High School, Scottsdale, AZ 10 participants 1 day
Georgetown Preparatory School, North Bethesda, MD 6 participants 5 days
St Ignatius High School
Cleveland, OH
9 participants 3.5 day

Father Dan Sullivan, S.J., the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Community with Father Sean at the Seventh Annual KBI Dinner.
Photo by Maddie Larkin.

 

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