• Las Mariposas - The Butterflies

    Its been more than a few times that while driving in between cities butterflies appear around us, and I’ve wondered whether or not they’re coming along for the ride or if its simply normal for them to be in these parts this time of the year.  Their timing coincides with the image of the butterfly growing as a symbol of this ride. That is one of the funnest things to experience in organizing – when something begins to take on a life of its own.  I love the possibility of an idea, a sense of something and not having a clue what it will become in the end. I am thankful that I am still willing to try things that I don’t have an idea of what the outcome will be. But having a sense of the possibility, and that it could be good, makes taking a chance, the risk is worth it.

    That is why as we continue on, the butterfly grows and flutters more and more in my mind. Ever present. Its nature, its essence. The way it has had meaning to cultures and different peoples. The way it develops, a physical manifestation of the quantitative growth of something…step by step by step..so delicate that you can’t always tell its changing; to the qualitative change, when something clicks and that person, place or thing bears little resemblence to its former self.

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  • Watching Our Parents Come Out of the Shadows

    On August 14-17, I and five other members of the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) followed the No Papers No Fear Ride to their stops in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama. Those four days made me optimistic of the growth our community and movement is making.

    The strength and courage the people on the bus have is inspiring as it shows the determination they have to live and organize without fear.  Since the first day that we arrived in Memphis, we realized the diversity and intergenerational make up of the bus.  The people telling their stories in public community events were of all ages and various backgrounds.

    As somebody who has participated in the Coming Out of the Shadows rally in Chicago, I was excited to see adults coming out alongside youth.  Every person who shared his or her story through words, theater, dance, or poetry did it with conviction. They spoke without shame and were unapologetic and unafraid.  

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  • Undocumented mom risks life in US to join immigration fight

    Birmingham, Ala. -- Maria Cruz Ramirez thrust up a small banner reading “undocumented,” interrupting a hearing on strict state immigration laws to share the impact that the legislation has had on her life.

    “I am here to lift up the voice of my community, of my children, all those families who have been separated. I am here and I want to present this so you can see it,” Ramirez, 46, cried out in Spanish as she held up the sign at the meeting in Birmingham. “I am a mother, a responsible mother … I am not a criminal and I am here to defend my rights.”

    A mother of three and former owner of a hair salon in Mexico, Ramirez, who lives in Arizona, never thought she would end up here, as an immigration activist, possibly jeopardizing her life in the U.S. But after 11 years in this country, she decided to throw herself into the public spotlight as Arizona’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants threatened her family.

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  • 'When I See Injustice I Tend to Move Against It'

    Mientras que estamos en Alabama, estábamos invitados por SOS (Save Ourselves) para visitar a Selma, AL un sitio histórico de la lucha por los derechos civiles de los Afro-Americanos en los EEUU. Cruzamos el puente Edmund Pettus donde no les dejaron cruzar en una marcha de Selma a Montgomery y visitamos un museo para aprender mas de su movimiento del pasado y de hoy tambien. 

    While the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice was in Alabama, we were invited by Save Ourselve, SOS, to visit Selma, a historic site in the African-American civil rights movement in the US. We crossed the same Edmund Pettus bridge where police attacked marchers headed to Montgomery in the 60s and we visited a museum there to learn more of the historic struggles as well as their efforts today.

     

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  • Daylaborers for the Right to Work and Just Living Conditions

    En Alabama visitamos a un grupo de jornaleros, quienes eran victimas de agreción de la policia y violaciones de sus derechos a vivienda justa por parte de la administración de un conjunto de apartamentos, hasta que tambien se comenzaro an organiar y responder. Platicamos con ellos sobre el poder de conocer nuestros derechos, y los apoyamos en hacer un comite, que trabajara para hacer un Centro de Trabajadores en Hoover, Alabama. 

    In Alabama we visited a group of day laborers, who were victims of police harassment and violation of their rights by housing administrators, until they also organized and fought back. We spoke to them about the power of knowing our rights, and supported them in creating a committee, that will work towards having a worker’s center in Hoover, Alabama.

     

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  • Selma: Crossing Bridges, Building Puentes

    Today we had the privilege to visit Selma, Alabama, a historic site from the Civil Rights movement.  On a Sunday in March of 1965, around 600 marchers left Selma to march east to the capital.  When they reached Edmund Pettus Bridge, only six blocks away, they were driven back to Selma by state troopers and local sheriffs who used tear gas and billy clubs to stop them in their tracks.  This event became known as Bloody Sunday.  Alabama State Senator and civil rights activists Hank Sanders invited us to come meet with him and other long time activists from the area. This is how we, Isela Meraz, a 29 year old undocumented and queer organizer from Arizona, and Maria Huerta, a 65 year old domestic worker and organizer from California, both remember that visit:

    Maria: Today was a really exceptional day for me.  The bridge in Selma is a really important part of history.  It was very intense walking over the bridge.  They had no idea they were going to run in to problems there. The women told us that there was a lot of blood and that lots of people had died.  As we walked over the bridge, I thought of all of the kids that had died.  There fight was and is really the same as ours – lots of racism, hate, and segregation.

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  • Arizona Awaits Next SB 1070 'Papers Please' Ruling, UndocuBus Rallies Undocumented Mothers Across Country

    Three weeks into their historic "No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice," Phoenix resident Leticia Ramirez carries a message for other undocumented mothers across the United States.

    "I am mother and I am undocumented and I am not afraid," Ramirez, a mother of three young children, told me in a phone interview today, as the 30-plus modern-day freedom riders entered Georgia, on the heels of the 11th Circuit Court's strike down of that state's Arizona copycat immigration.

    "I have heard so many stories from other mothers," Ramirez said, an 18-year resident of Arizona, who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child. "They are inspired by our journey, and tell me that they have been inspired to come out of the shadows, and this encourages me to keep going."

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  • Witnessing the Birth of a Day Laborer Worker’s Center

    Witnessing the Birth of a Day Laborer Worker’s Center

    Members of the No Paper No Fear ride visited a group of day laborers in Hoover, Alabama, who had requested support in organizing. Eleazar is himself a day laborer in Tucson, Arizona, and he was part of the team that helped these workers organize themselves.

    It was a great experience in my life, to witness how a group of day laborers organized for dignity in their living conditions and the right to look for work. They were being harassed by the police, ignored and criminalized by their housing administrator, and fearful of being deported. On Friday, we took a small group of No Papers No fear riders, to learn from them about the conditions they lived and worked in, and support their organizing; on Sunday, we held a meeting with the tenants and the day laborers, and on Tuesday we brought the entire group to support a demonstration led by the day laborers for their right to work and good living conditions.

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  • Hoover Day Laborers and No Papers No Fear Riders Unite Against Harassment, Housing Violations, Retaliation for Organizing

    National delegation of undocumented immigrants on the No Papers No Fear ride for Justice will join day laborers living in Hoover, Alabama who have been organizing against harassment, housing violations, deportations and retaliation from organizing for their rights.

    Hoover, AL -- Although day laborers have a constitutional right to assemble and seek work in public, Hoover, AL workers have repeatedly been told by building management that they cannot seek work outside or wait for their own employers, even in the parking lot of their own apartment complex, where they are rent-paying tenants. Building managers have verbally abused them, called the police when workers don’t disperse quickly enough, leading event to deportations and police harassment.

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  • Surviving the Tornado and Deportations in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

    Trini Garcia has been living in Alabama for 15 years, she is part of the organization Somos Tuskaloosa. She is one of the people who came out of the shadows and talked about her story publicly at the rally on August 20, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This is her story.

    We are tired and we have lost fear. It has taken me years to lose it though because it is a fear that paralyzes you. I clearly remember the moment when I heard that HB 56 was going to be implemented about a year ago. It was a moment of panic, a difficult moment. We were not going to be able to get car plates, transactions with the state. Nothing.

    The tornados in 2011 and the change in the law came at the same time. They both impacted our community, they both caused fear, they both separated families, they both affected the stability of our children in school. The tornado and the law caused our community to have nightmares and traumas, some visible and some invisible.

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