Posts Tagged ‘immigration’

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More than one hundred people, many of them local immigrants, rallied at Nashua City Hall yesterday to demand an end to immigrant deportations and an end to cooperation between the Nashua Police and the federal agents who enforce immigration laws.

5-2-11 Nashua 015 The event followed reports that local police have been tipping off Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about immigrants who were expected to appear at District Court for traffic violations. After meeting with Nashua residents, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees and the AFSC decided to hold their annual May Day rally in Nashua instead of Manchester.

A recent Nashua Telegraph article described the detention of Juan Valdez, who was picked by ICE in March after he went to court on a charge of driving without a license.  The 19-year old is now at risk of being deported to Mexico, which he left when he was five years old.

Eva Castillo, organizer for the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, served as

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emcee and led the group in chants.  She was joined at the stage by Olmer Villavicencio, an Ecuadoran immigrant who distributed hundreds of flye5-2-11 Nashua 028rs at churches and stores in the preceding two weeks and deserves much of the credit for the turnout.  Olmer’s 10-year old daughter, Joselyn, in her first public speech, criticized deportations for separating families. “There are many people who are trying to work, and then when they get here they get arrested because they don’t have any papers,” she said. 

Other speakers included Alejandro Urrutia and Enrique Mesa, both members of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. Rev. Yolanda Martinez ,

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Sister May Cronin, and Sister Sara also delivered impassioned speeches grounded in religious traditions and principles.  Jean Serino, of Hudson, read a letter about the personal impact of deportation. 

5-2-11 Nashua 055 Maggie Fogarty, who directs the AFSC’s New Hampshire Economic Justice Project, was the final speaker. Recalling the warm welcome her family received when they lived in Bolivia for several years, she said “I want newcomers in Nashua, in Manchester and Dover, to be greeted with a smile and warm embrace. I want us to learn what newcomers have to teach us about family and faith and living on this earth.”

Rallies for immigrants’ rights have been held in recent years on May 1, which is known as Labor Day or Workers Day throughout most of the world. This was the first such rally in Nashua since 2006.

A demonstration did take place in Nashua in September 2010, when Maricopajust say no County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio visited the city for a political fundraising event, but most participants were from out of town. Yesterday’s rally, by contrast, was mostly residents of Nashua, which now has the largest immigrant and Latino populations in the state.

Members of the community are already talking about holding meetings to learn about their rights and to get better organized.

The rally was attended by several members of the Sisters of Mercy, activists from the Granite State Organizing Project, and members of the local Democratic Party. 

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The rally was covered in today’s Nashua Telegraph.

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liana workshop Culture of Peace conference march 5 004 Rev. Liana Rowe’s involvement in Arizona’s immigration controversy began when members of the state’s religious community heard reports about corpses of immigrants being found in the desert near the Mexican border. Soon she was drawn into debates over racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, measures that turned immigrants into criminals under Arizona law, and the range of issues involving law enforcement, employment, and services for the thousands of people who cross the Mexico-US border each year without authorization.

“Desperate people move. It’s a global phenomenon,” she told participants in a workshop Saturday morning at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Concord, the first event on her 9-day speaking tour of New Hampshire. But as immigration crackdowns in the urban centers forced migrants into more remote areas, harsh desert conditions caused death and suffering, she explained.

In essence, migrants were getting death sentences for crossing the border without authorization, which as a matter of law is a civil offense, like a speeding ticket.

“As communities of faith, we looked at the deaths in the desert and said ‘this is not acceptable,’” she said.

  Her presentation in Concord, as well as one Saturday evening at the First Parish Church in E. Derry and one at the Community Church of Durham on Sunday explained the relationship between border enforcement, interior enforcement, and detention, all of which have subject unauthliana sandra maranatha 3-6-2011 033orized migrants to harsh treatment and destroyed families.

Rev. Rowe also gave the Sunday sermon at the Community Church of Durham and delivered greetings to the Maranatha Indonesian UCC Church in Madbury, which celebrated its seventh birthday yesterday.

Her schedule for the rest of the week includes events in Manchester and Hanover Tuesday, Concord Wednesday, Concord and Pelham Thursday, Franconia Friday, and finishes up in Concord on Sunday.

Rev. Rowe, a resident of N. Phoenix, sits on the Board of Directors for Humane Borders, a humanitarian organization that maintains water stations in remote desert regions of Southern Arizona.  She has also been active with the Somos America/We Are America Coalition in advocating for human and civil rights in Arizona. Rev. Rowe was 2011 recipient of the City of Phoenix Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Award.

Her New Hampshire tour is sponsored by the Commission on Witness and Action of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ and the American Friends Service Committee.

Rev. Rowe will be accompanied at many of the presentations by the Rev. Sandra Pontoh, pastor of the Maranatha Indonesian UCC Church in Madbury, and Eva Castillo Turgeon, who leads the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees.liana & derek - durham 3-6-2011

At its 2010 annual meeting, the NH Conference of the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution calling for solidarity with immigrants and with the Southwest Conference of the UCC. The resolution called on church members “to consider prayer, study, protest, and other possible actions for immigrant rights, and that the NHCUCC will mobilize our congregations for just and fair Federal Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”

The United Church of Christ is New Hampshire’s largest Protestant group, with 139 churches and 23,000 members across the state.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization whose work for social justice includes a commitment to humane immigration reform.

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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — A New Hampshire House subcommittee considering a resolution putting New Hampshire on the side of Arizona’s approach to immigration policy will recommend the resolution be put aside for further study when the full Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs meets tomorrow.

After a discussion of whether states have the constitutional authority Eva Ana and Rep Marcus Discus immigration 1-19-11to enact their own immigration policies, the subcommittee members concluded study was preferable to endorsing the resolution, HCR 2, as submitted by Rep. Bruce Marcus (R- Peterborough), or proposing their own amended language.

Rep. Seth Cohn (R-Canterbury) proposed substitute language expressing sympathy with the victims of the Tucson shooting, but this was rejected.

Rep. Marcus, who missed last week’s hearing on his resolution, testified that Arizona and other southern states are facing huge expenses for health care and education due to the federal government’s failure to enforce immigration law. Arizona’s schools, he said, use curriculum materials which call for Mexico to forcibly re-take land which has been part of the USA since the 19th century. The problem is spreading, he warned.

“I am only asking that we support the state of Arizona in their fight with the federal government,” he said. But sub-committee members appeared to be uncomfortable with a resolution which said the state of New Hampshire “fully supports” Arizona’s approach, which is being challenged in court on constitutional grounds.

Rep. Todd Smith (R-Hooksett), who chaired the subcommittee, suggested language that instead of implying explicit support for Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 would state that New Hampshire supports the right of Arizona to protect its own borders. But even that has constitutional problems, said Rep. Cohn and others in the hearing room.

“If we say we’re supporting Arizona everyone’s going to say we’re supporting SB 1070,” protested Rep. Theodoros Rokas (D-Manchester).

Rep. Lynn Blankenbecker (R-Concord) observed there did not appear to be support for endorsing the resolution as written, and suggested the Committee refer the bill to interim study. Her resolution was adopted unanimously by the sub-committee.

Discussion of whether the US Constitution reserves control of the borders to the federal government, or whether the 10th Amendment gives states authority to enact their own immigration policies, will be left to another day.

[from http://afsc.org/story/nh-subcommittee-recommend-%E2%80%9Cinterim-study%E2%80%9D-immigration-resolution

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[from http://afsc.org/story/nh-activists-oppose-az-immigration-law-state-house-hearing]


CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Immigrant rights activists gave members of a legislative committee plenty of reasons to defeat a resolution endorsing Arizona’s repressive immigration law at a State House hearing this morning.

The badly worded resolution attempted to link Arizona’s immigration law to state obligations to protect the safety and job security of New Hampshire citizens. In addition to calling on the state “to protect its citizens from illegal immigrants,” the resolution says “the state of New Hampshire fully supports the state of Arizona’s immigration law.”

The resolution “promotes division, intolerance, and hatred,” said Ana Herrero, a Ana 1 - HCR 2 hearing 1-13-11 Webster resident who described her service in the US Navy, her pride at becoming a US citizen, and her apprehension that she would be one of those targeted, based on her surname and skin color, if an Arizona-type immigration law were in force in New Hampshire

The resolution, HCR 2, was introduced by Rep. Bruce Marcus of Peterborough, who did not attend the hearing. It is being considered by the Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs.

In addition to Herrera, opponents included Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, Cathy Chesley of Catholic Charities, Clair Ebel of the NH Civil Liberties Union, Barbara French representing the United Church of Christ, Rep. Frances Potter of Concord, Alejandro Urrutia, and several others.

Although the resolution did not indicate which specific Arizona law was supposedly worthy of endorsement and imitation, most speakers assumed it referrChristian - HCR 2 hearing 1-13-11ed to SB 1070, which passed in 2010 and is currently the subject of six lawsuits. Christian Urrutia, a recent law school graduate, outlined a variety of reasons why a federal court has placed an injunction on implementation of major provisions of SB 1070 due to a variety of constitutional flaws.

Long-time immigrants’ rights activist Judy Elliott, of Canterbury, answered numerous questions from legislators about her contention that the Arizona law would promote discriminatory profiling, a problem some members of the Committee appeared prepared to disregard.

Gibran Ortiz, a Mexican immigrant, explained that he is studying to become a police officer and would prefer to spend his time protecting his community from dangerous crime, not hounding immigrants for their papers.

Immigration lawyer George Bruno, former US Ambassador to Belize, said SB 1070’s provisions on harboring illegal aliens would make criminals out of priests and social workers. “The Arizona model is not the path New Hampshire should travel,” he said.

Eva Castillo put it thiGibran & Eva 1-13-11s way, “Let what happens in Arizona stay in Arizona.”

I tried to explain to the committee members that the resolution would inspire fear of immigrants, who are our neighbors, co-workers, employers, and customers. If New Hampshire were to follow Arizona’s example, I said, the state would have to change its motto from “Live Free or Die” to “Show Me Your Papers.”

Only one person, a Nashua resident, spoke in favor.

HCR 2 has been referred to a sub-committee, which will meet next Tuesday. Its deliberation will inform a full committee vote, which would then become the basis for consideration by the full 400-member House of Representatives.

The legislature expects to review more than 800 bills in the legislative session that began a week ago. So far, the text of only 194 of them has been made public. Whether legislation modeled on SB 1070 is on its way remains to be seen.

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Don Gregorio was one of the first people our Witness for Peace group met in San Juan Sosola, a small village in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. One of the first things he told us was a story about a young woman from the village who had died in Los Angeles without her family being able to contact her.

You don’t even have to scratch the surface in Oaxaca to learn something about Mexico-US migration. Talk to just about anyone and they’ll ask, “where are you from?” Once you say, “the USA,” you’ll hear stories about brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and cousins living north of the border. The challenges facing separated families are painful, even without workplace raids, desert border crossings, and deportations.

If you do scratch the surface, you can learn why beautiful, peaceful villages like San oaxaca 2010 07 19 s j sosola 058 Juan Sosola are pretty much empty of young adults, most of whom leave as soon as they are old enough to travel on their own. Some reasons, like soil erosion caused by excessive logging, go back centuries to the time of Spanish colonialism. Others are more recent, like the pressures put on Mexico in the 1980s to reduce price supports for tortillas, and the flood of subsidized corn from the USA which entered Mexican markets after the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994.

According to Jesus Leon Santos, of the Center for Integral Doaxaca 2010 07 19 s j sosola 079evelopment of the Mixteca, the region has experienced longer periods of drought and periods of intense rain brought on by global climatic change. Moreover, he says, chemical inputs of the “green revolution” made the land less productive.

Miguel Angel Vásquez, of EDUCA , Services for an Alternative Education, says 60% of the Mexican youth who enter the labor market every year are unable to find work. Oaxaca is Mexico’s second poorest state, and according to some figures, a third of its people are now living in the USA.

And it’s not just Mexico. In a religiously affiliated shelter in the city of Oaxaca we met 3 young men from El Salvador and Guatemala, trying to make their way through Mexico past migration police and criminal gangs. A Salvadoran man says, “If I could stay in my country and make money I’d never leave.” But he’s making his second oaxaca 2010 07 19 s j sosola 044 attempt to reach the USA – the first ended with arrest in northern Mexico – despite his knowledge of the perils of the road. It’s not like he expects money to fall from the sky, he says. He expects to work hard so he can send money home to his mom.

When the farm economy is failing, rural people migrate. That’s the story of US history in the 19th century, of modern China, of modern Mexico and Central America. But unlike the “mill girls” who left my state’s small towns in the 1830s and 1840s for the bustling new cities of New England, and unlike the workers in Chinese sweatshops now, Mexicans and Central Americans have to cross a highly militarized border and face a climate of racism and persecution if they reach the other side.

Our ten days with Witness for Peace deepen my understanding that “immigration reform” requires addressing the reasons why so many people are forced to migrate in the first place. My passport will enable me to return across the border to my own community with new insights, and with my heart enriched by the people I’ve met.

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A Trip to Zaachila

by Judy

Thursday for our Spanish lesson, Arnie and I went with our teachers Gladys and Angelica to the Thursday market in the village of Zaachila, about 15 miles southwest of Oaxaca. In the bus, an old lady told us she was going to the market to buy turkey and chicken eggs so that she could raise the birds for meat. She also told me the name of a local plant that we saw along the roadside – huamuchil – and how to use the seeds in tamales. We have learned that if we want to know something, one of the best ways is to ask the “abuelitas” and “abuelitos” (grandmothers and grandfathers) that we meet in the streets and markets. They are the ones that remember the traditional ways of doing things, and they have been very kind. I like it that Mexicans use “abuelita/abuelito” as a term of affection for all old people, not just their own grandfathers and grandmothers. It reminds us that the old people are a treasure to be respected by us all.

In Zaachila, one of the vendors let us sample from her big bottles of mezcal. Each bottle had something different in it to flavor it – pieces of pineapple, guayaba, rosemary, etc. Tasted great, but we decided that we didn’t real need to buy a big bottle.

We also stopped at a stand where a woman was making the famous traditional drink ofoaxaca 2010 06 24J zaachila vendedora de tejate Oaxaca, tejate. It’s quite a process. First, she mixes ground corn, Mexican cinnamon, and dried flowers from chocolate trees, all in a huge pottery bowl. She adds water, a little at a time, and makes a thick paste. Then she gradually adds more water until the mixture is thin enough to drink. For some reason the mixing all has to be done with bare hands and arms, up to the elbows. She told me that it really takes a lot of work and a lot of strength to do it. When the tejate is ready, it is served in traditional bowls made from gourds (jicaras), painted red and painted with big flowers. It looks like curdled beige milk. Usually we don’t eat food in the markets because it’s easy to get sick here, but I just had to try, because I’d heard it’s sweet, subtle, and refreshing. I bought a bowlful, and Arnie and I both had a sip. Well, I had several sips because it was delicious. We spent the rest of the day wondering if had been stupid to drink it, but we never got sick.

Then we encountered an abuelita who was selling corn out of big burlap sacks. There are lots of colors of corn here – white, yellow, red, black, and more. We asked where it came from, and she said she and her husband had grown it. Among poor people, she said, husband and wife work together in the fields. She said it was last year’s harvest. The rains hadn’t come this year, and if the rains don’t come, there would be no corn to harvest this year. She told us it had become drier and drier in recent years in Oaxaca. Before, there had been more rain and it had been easy to harvest abundant crops of corn. “But still we continue.”

Because of the droughts, she said, there had been many Oaxacans forced to travel to the United States to earn a living. She herself had a brother-in-law in Los Angeles and a son in Seattle. She said it was unjust the way immigrants were treated in the U.S. They die of thirst crossing the desert and are shot at the border, she fumed. (A recent shooting of a 14-year-old Mexican by a U.S. border patrol agent who crossed the line into Mexico has caused outrage throughout the country, especially since the U.S. has not allowed the agent to be extradited to be tried in Mexican courts.) The abuelita reasoned that since people in the U.S. no longer cultivate their own fields, they need Mexican workers and ought to treat them better. As I said, if you want to find out what’s really going on, just ask an abuelita.

We also met a man selling jicara gourds that he had decorated beautifully. He said he painted the flowered red ones (the kind used to serve tejate) with paint from the hardware store. But he had decorated others with beautiful combinations of rich colors that he obtained by grinding local rocks into a powder. He had learned the art from his grandfather, and had now taught his own two sons, who help him in the workshop. I bought a beautiful jicara of deep blue and tan, decorated with delicate lines of black paint.

The bus back from Zaachila was crowded. An old woman holding a live chicken sat down beside our teacher Angelica and began to feed it a tomato. Arnie thought about looking at the pictures in his camera, but he decided not to, for fear he would look like a rich tourist. However, then the old woman with the  chicken got out her I-phone and began showing pictures to Angelica. Just goes to show … something.

It was a wonderful visit to the Zaachila market, and I am grateful and somewhat amazed that people here are so generous in telling us about their work and their lives.

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Ariz. lawmaker takes aim at automatic citizenship


PHOENIX — Emboldened by passage of the nation’s toughest law against illegal immigration, the Arizona politician who sponsored the measure now wants to deny U.S. citizenship to children born in this country to undocumented parents.

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Five years ago local police decided it would be nifty to arrest undocumented immigrants in New Hampshire and charge them with trespassing, just like Arizona police have now been mandated to do there.  In NH, this approach was met with civil, legal, and political resistance.  Here’s an article I wrote about what happened, published May 4, 2010 in the Concord Monitor.

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