Undocubus Set to Travel to Democratic National Convention

Source: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bastard/2012/07/puentes_undocubus_is_set_to_tr.php

While most pro-immigrant activists are focusing on educating people about President Obama's new immigration policy regarding DREAM Act students, which promises to stop the deportations of some undocumented youth, the local human-rights group Puente is advocating a halt to all immigration deportations.

And to convey that defiant message, Puente is planning to gather about 40 undocumented immigrants and travel via bus across the country, visiting cities in the Southwest along the way. 

The trip will begin July 29 in Phoenix and end at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, which is scheduled to begin September 4.

"[We're] challenging either places that have passed similar legislation [as Arizona's Senate Bill 1070] or [have anti-immigrant] sheriffs, or places that there is current [immigrant-community] struggle," says Puente organizer Carlos Garcia.

The "undocubus," as Garcia calls it, will include undocumented aliens who live in Arizona, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. 

The irony of a bus trip for aliens already at risk for being bussed to the the border if deported is intentional, according to Garcia.

The point? To show the Democratic Party that President Obama is as bad as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio when it comes to immigration enforcement.

After all, the activists correctly observe, the Obama administration has deported more than 1 million immigrants since 2009. 

And if Obama wins a second term in November, another million could be shipped home.

One day before the "undocubus" departs, Puente will sponsor a "March for Dignity," beginning 9 a.m. at  Phoenix's Indian Steele Park and ending at the local offices for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The demonstration will highlight the collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration officials in deporting undocumented immigrants, Garcia says.

Another twist could come if Sheriff Arpaio testifies in the federal racial profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio. The trial in Melendres is scheduled to start July 19 before Judge G. Murray Snow at the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in downtown Phoenix.

Should Arpaio testify before the undocubus heads for North Carolina, its passengers will publicly out themselves as illegal in a demonstration to take place in front of the federal courthouse, as Arpaio is testifying.  

They may be here illegally, but as the U.S. Supreme court recently noted, this is not a crime in and of itself. 

However, in racial-profiling, Arpaio has violated the highest law in the land -- the U.S. Constitution. As Puente constantly reminds the public, Arpaio is the real criminal, not those in this country struggling to survive.

Bio: Maria Cruz Ramirez

Maria Cruz Ramirez arrived in Phoenix, AZ with her three children just a few months before September 11, 2001 to be with her husband.  She worked as a stylist in our own salon in Hidalgo, Mexico, and had hoped to have better opportunities for work in the U.S.  She has been unable to find work for the last eleven years because she is undocumented.  Two of her three children participated in a coming out of the shadows civil disobedience in Phoenix in March.  She has been a member of the Arizona Dream Guardians, a group of parents of DREAM Act-eligible youth who fundraised for their children’s educations, and she hopes to start a new parents’ group in the future that is a community defense committee and a way to increase their children’s education opportunities.  She says, “Me and my children, we give each other strength, and we struggle together.  I’m going on the bus because I want a life with dignity and a just job for myself, for my family, and for my people.  I fight for those who come after me.”

No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice

This summer undocumented immigrants fed up with mistreatment are publicly coming out as unafraid to challenge their own fears in order for the world to recognize their humanity. The Undocumented Unafraid Ride for Justice will challenge Sheriffs and proponents of anti-immigrant policies and set an example of courage to inspire a new day for migrant rights.

Bio: Natally Cruz

Natally Cruz has made her home in Phoenix, AZ for the last 16 years, since she was seven years old.  She has been a part of the Puente Human Rights Movement for over two years, learning and educating others about the rights of undocumented people.  Over the same period of time, five members of her family have been harassed or detained by Arpaio and his collaborators. Her main motivation to fight for her community is her 7-year-old son.  She says, “We have to come out of the shadows just like the students did: we have to let people know that we are tired of being stepped on.  We are not scared anymore. Enough is enough.”

Bio: Leticia Ramirez

Leticia Ramirez lives in Phoenix, AZ.  She is a community organizer and health promoter with the Puente Human Rights Movement.  She came to the United States in 1994 when she was 9 years old because her father found better work here than he was able to in Mexico.  She has three U.S. citizen children, and watches her family and her community experience racial profiling every day.  She says, “I am a cake decorator and I can’t even find work doing what I like because I don’t have papers. I want to open the community’s eyes and show them what it looks like to not be afraid, to come out the shadows, and stand united.”

Bio: Miguel Guerra

Miguel Guerra has lived in Phoenix, AZ, since 1998, with his wife and his three children. He works in construction, and has been a volunteer with the Puente Human Rights Movement since shortly after the passage of SB1070, when the organization helped him recover stolen wages from an employer. That same year, he was racially profiled and pulled over by Phoenix PD for an alleged traffic violation and had his car impounded, because as an undocumented immigrant he cannot get a driver’s license. He says that he is willing to take action and risk deportation for dignity. “We want to come out of the shadows.  We want President Obama to see that we are no longer afraid and that that we are demanding that he take action to solve our community’s problems.”

Bio: Isela "Chela" Meraz

Isela Meraz (Chela) has lived in Phoenix, AZ since 1991. Chela was 8 years old when she came to the US with her parents who wanted a better education and life for their family. She is active in the community, from organizing in the streets, participating in hunger strikes and spiritual fast, to organizing art shows for queer cultura, 3rdSpace, and working with PUENTE. This is Chela’s first time doing a civil disobedience action. “I’m doing this for my parents. For the sacrifice they made bringing me here. To let them know that the obstacle I have encountered are the system’s fault and not theirs. I want people to not be afraid anymore, to know that even though we are undocumented we have rights. We need to tell our stories with pride.”

Bio: Gerardo Torres

Gerardo Torres is a self-employed handyman and community health promoter who has lived in Phoenix, AZ for the last 18 years, after staying after the time limit of a tourist visa.  He is a member of the Puente Human Rights Movement and 3rdSpace, a group of queer brown migrants working to make their community visible.  “I want people to know that the queer undocumented community is also affected by these laws.  I want people in my communities to let go of their fear and to learn how to defend their human rights. It is a time for a change in the immigration laws: the status quo is not an option anymore.  We have to move because we are in crisis, what is happening is not working anymore.

Bio: Eleazar Castellanos

Eleazar Castellanos has lived in Tucson, AZ since 1996.  He studied computer programming and technical analysis in Nogales, Sonora, and moved to the U.S. when he completed his studies in order to have more economic opportunities for himself and his now-adult daughter.  He works as a day laborer, and has watched his wages fall dramatically as the economic crisis and anti-immigrant climate in Arizona worsen.  He watches people in his community be racially profiled by Border Patrol every day, and so, for the last year, he has been a member of a group of day laborers in Tucson organizing to fight for their rights.  He says, “I am going on the bus to come out of the shadows, to make the President hear our community’s voice, and so that we can move forward and make all of our lives better. We all deserve jobs with justice and dignity.”

Bio: Maria Jesus "Marichu" Rodriguez

Maria Jesus Rodriguez has lived in Phoenix for the past 17 years. In Tijuana, she worked as a social worker doing chronic disease prevention, but after not being able to find work, she brought her three children here to be closer to family and have more opportunities.  Keeping her family together, though, is not so straightforward in Arizona’s anti-immigrant climate: after her brother was picked up for a minor traffic violation in 2010, he was pressured to sign a self-deportation order while in Arpaio’s jail, and so is now separated from his U.S. citizen children and grandchildren. She currently works at a tire shop, and as a know-your-rights educator and community health promoter with Puente Arizona.   “An informed community is an armed community,” she says.  “It’s time for our community to be brave and lose our fear and come out of the shadows.  We are fighting for lives with dignity and justice and to be treated like human beings.”

Bio: Julio Cesar Sanchez

Julio Cesar Sanchez lives in Chicago, IL and has been living in the U.S. for nine years. He came to the U.S. at the age of 15 with his mother after his parents’ divorce, despite a difficult border crossing. His mother sought to reunite with her family here and get away from a domestic violence situation.  He faced discrimination and bullying when he first arrived in Texas at school, and, while living in Florida, was put in jail for driving without a license.  These experiences made him decide to take action for his community.  He now organizes with the immigrant community in Chicago teaching people their rights. He says, “I’m riding the Undocubus to show myself, my family, and everyone else that is dealing with the same struggle I am that we can make a change. I believe it is time to end our fear.”

Bio: Angel Alvarez

Angel Alvarez is 23-years-old, a self-identified undocu-queer, and currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.  He has been in the United States since he was one year old.  He has been involved in his community for many years, and is currently a part of Puente Human Rights Movement, 3rdSpace (a collective of queer migrants and people of color working on social justice issues in Phoenix), and the Association for Joterias Arts, Activism, and Scholarship. In 2010, he moved to New Mexico to go to college and get away from SB1070 and Arizona’s climate of hate; he was detained in NM and put in ICE custody.  He is currently fighting deportation, after recently being released from immigrant detention.  After this experience made him realize that Arizona had spread throughout the country, he returned to Phoenix to organize and defend his family and community.   He says, “I have experienced family separation and I don’t want anyone else to ever go through that.  That’s why I’m on the bus.”

Bio: Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco

N. Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco has been living in Chicago, IL for 18 years, since coming to the US at the age of 7 in 1994 with her family. At the age of 25 Ireri works as a part time grant writer, amateur horticulturist,  and with the Immigrant Youth Justice League, a chicago based undocumented youth led organization. “I am riding the bus because I refuse to keep on limiting myself by the unjust laws that refuse to see my humanity and recognize that undocumented immigrants are as much a part of the community as everyone else. ”

Bio: Daniela Cruz

Daniela Cruz has lived  in Phoenix for 10 years, although she was born in Mexico city. She traveled to the United States with her mother two days before her 11th birthday. Although it took her some time, she eventually began feeling that Arizona was her home. She grew up noticing fear of immigration and police by her family. One year, when her mother heard that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was going to be around her school, she stopped driving Daniela there, did not let her go outside, and almost made her change schools. Four years ago her brother’s partner was arrested for a minor traffic violation. He had a 3 week-old daughter. In September 2010 she began to get involved in the passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. Although she stepped away from organizing for a few months, she came back by participating in the first civil disobedience by undocumented students to take place in Phoenix, Arizona. She participated because she was tired of seeing her community scared and hiding, and believes organizing is the best way to fight against that fear. She is on the bus for the same reason, she explains, “if you organize your community, people don’t have to get deported, families don’t have to be separated.”

Bio: Perla Farias

Perla Farias is a journalism and justice studies major at Arizona State University, traveling as part of the media crew of the No Papers No Fear ride. She has lived in Arizona for 10 years, but was born in California. She has seen at least two of her family members deported, her aunt and godmother. She says, “I’ve seen deportation affect my family, and its breaking us apart. If someone in our family is missing a piece of them, mom or husband, then the rest of us aren’t complete.” She also finds her inspiration to address social justice issues in her experience as a Chicana woman who has had direct experiences of patriarchy and racism. She remembers being young and her friends being bothered by her speaking Spanish and being told that women had specific roles of servitude. Her participation on the bus tour as an opportunity to document a historic moment through a Chicana lens and to do service for her community. She lives and creates art in Phoenix with her husband, DJ Portugal, who is also the designer of the art painted on the bus.

Bio: Jorge Torres

Jorge Torres was born in Ecuador, where he had his first experience seeing inequality, particularly in the way indigenous people in his town were treated. He began organizing with indigenous people since he was 12 years old.  He came to the United States at the age of 16 with his parents, and has lived here for 15 years. He lived undocumented for 9 years of his life, during which he learned about the frustration of lacking access to school, work, and travel. He began to organize with  Comunidad Latina en Acción, a community organization that works against wage-theft, provides educational and leadership opportunities, and is dedicated to community empowerment. He was able to regularize his immigration status three years ago, but continues to organize with immigrant communities. He continues to work with Comunidad Latina en Acción, has done community radio, and makes films and documentaries relating to migrants and social justice. Regarding his involvement on the No Papers No Fear Ride, he says that  “this is something that is making history, and a story that needs to be told, and we need to be able to say and document these moments with our own media.”

Bio: Andres Gallegos

Andres Gallegos was born in Denver, Colorado, but has lived in Los Angeles, California most of his life. He describes himself as coming from a union family, growing up around working people. His mom and his grandfather were born in L.A., and his mother was involved in the Chicano movement, which “laid a big seed in my brain about what it means to be working class, people of color in a big urban city where all you do is get jailed and beaten by police, or thrown into an institution,” he explains. While he lived there, he worked doing union organizing as a hotel service employee. It was around this time that he decided to come out to his co-workers as queer, learning that “there is hope that can be gained by overcoming fear.” This is the sprit that he carries with him on the bus.  He has also lived in Chicago, where he worked with a queer organization focused on queer and transgender youth of color. When he is not on the road with the No Papers No Fear riders, he lives back in Los Angeles. He is considering attending law school, and one day wants to open a community-based, community-owned, affordable Laundromat, that can also serve as a space for meetings.

Bio: Alejandro Guizar

Alejandro Guizar, 19, was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and came to the United States with his father at the age of 9. He has lived in Knoxville, Tennessee for 10 years, and graduated from Hardin Valley Academy high school. While he attended school he was in the wrestling team, and was a respected sportsman. He has continued his education, and is currently studying biology in college. His inspiration to study is his mother, who is a micro biologist in Mexico. He wants to join the army, and be part of first-response teams during outbreaks or bio-medical emergencies. He is also an organizer advocating for the rights of immigrants in Tennessee, and has co-founded a youth organization in the state called the Unknowns Working to be Known, which will continue to work for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows “and show those who oppose us who we are. We are human beings, and we are not going anywhere.”

Bio: Kemi Bello

Kemi Bello came to the U.S. when she was 6 years old from Lagos, Nigeria. Her getting on the bus coincides with her 18th anniversary living in the U.S., specifically Texas, and just last month was the beginning of her 7th year in removal proceedings. Her and her family traveled here looking for treatment for her little sister, who is suffered from complications from birth, and has cerebral palsy. She is an accomplished migrant rights organizer, blogger, and poet, and a person who is constantly thinking about what it means to organize as an undocumented person. She says she is on the bus because she feels “there has been a very specific and narrow view perpetuated of the undocumented experience, especially that of undocumented youth.” She says that one way to expand the narrative to include all people who are members of the undocumented community is by building dialogues and telling our stories because “Only the undocumented community can build a narrative of undocumented people in the United states.”

Bio: Maria Huerta

Maria Huerta, 65, was born in Mexico and has lived in the United States for 35 years. She has lived in California for the last 15 years with her 4 children. She works with the organization Mujeres Unidas y Activas, Women United and Active, where she fights for the rights of domestic workers and the empowerment of women for the last 13 years, including as the president of the organization’s Board of Directors. As an undocumented immigrant she has also been a long-time community organizer instrumental in building support for the California Bill of Rights Campaign. She is a powerful speaker and has facilitated know-your-rights presentations and workshops on domestic violence, sexual assault, and immigrant rights. She is coming out and speaking about her life because she is tired of hiding and of seeing the abuses that immigrant communities face. Her inspiration for participating on the bus tour is the hope that her actions will lead to people knowing more about the lives of undocumented immigrants, even if she has to risk deportation. While on the bus, Maria has participated in two direct actions, one in Birmingham, Alabama, where she risked arrest interrupting author of SB 1070 Kris Kobach’s testimony at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,  and in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she was arrested during a peaceful protest for blocking the street.

Bio: Fernando Lopez Sanchez

Fernando Lopez Sanchez knows what it is like to be in an immigration detention center.  Last summer he was turned over to immigration authorities in Phoenix, Arizona after being pulled over, and after he could not present a Driver’s License.  He says that while he was in detention he experienced the psychological abuse that undocumented detainees go through. “They made me feel like a criminal, like I was not worth more than a piece of paper.” He was able to get out of detention after support from the community and organizations like Puente Human Rights Movement. He is traveling on the bus, and taking the risk of being targeted once again by immigration authorities “to promote self determination of communities, to expose abuses in detention centers for migrants, and to bring justice for families.”

Bio: Sean McClellan

Sean McClellan was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He is a volunteer and organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League, an organization led by undocumented people. He attended the University of Chicago and got a degree in anthropology and pre-med. During his college time he spent two summers in Guatemala, where he interned at a medical non-governmental organization. It was here that he began to see the effects of United States immigration and deportation policies, and how much two countries are connected. Through his service work he began to become interested in organizing, recognizing the need to address structural problems that would not be addressed “unless people who are directly affected have more power.” In the fall of 2011 he attended a hearing about the Secure Communities program in Chicago, and witnessed a civil disobedience by 5 undocumented organizers from the Immigrant Youth Justice League. He says the need for a change in immigration legislation is a “big moral crisis that is not being addressed as a crisis.” He is on the bus because he is “frustrated with the way our immigration system treats people. I want more people to fight back against it.”

Bio: Yovany Diaz Tolentino

Yovani Diaz Tolentino came to the US  when he was 5 months old with his mother, looking for better financial opportunities, a better job and life. Now 20 years old, Yovani has lived in Roswell, Georgia for 12 years. He cleans houses and works with the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA), an undocumented youth led organization that support the undocumented community in Georgia. He is on the bus “to change the perspective of voters and fight for justice, helping to obtain an immigration reform that benefits America as a whole, including undocumented people.”

Bio: Rosi Carrasco

Rosi Carrasco has made a home for her family in Chicago IL for the past 18 years. She came to the US to reunite her two daughters with her husband, who had taken a job in Chicago. In Mexico, Rosi workers doing education research and planning. Now she works organizing the Latino community to fight for their rights. She has seen all the obstacles her daughters have overcome to finish their studies in this country due to their immigration status, and supports their struggles and decisions as best as she can. “I think it’s important to show solidarity with the struggle the youth have done for access to education, and show solidarity with the workers fighting for their right to jobs with dignity. I believe we should keep organizing our communities, even in an electoral year”

Bio: Martin Unzueta

In 1994 Martin Unzueta was offered a job in Chicago IL. He thought in this country there would be better educational opportunities for his children. In Mexico Martin had a small company that made books and paper. The company was not doing so well, it was hard to compete with bigger companies and government officials’ corruption hindered the business’ functions;  It became harder to sustain his family. In Chicago, Martin is the executive director of a non for profit organization that helps to organize and defend workers rights in their workplace.  He is on the bus because “I want other communities to hear our stories of how we have helped to organize and support workers in Chicago, and the necessity for each community to protect the rights we have at work. We need to learn to use the tools we do have to defend these rights.”

Bio: David Ramirez

David Ramirez was brought to Chicago from Mexico by his parents in 1991 when he was one year old. In Chicago, he attended one of the best public high schools in the country but his options for college were limited by his immigration status. He was unable to attend many of the universities he was accepted to because he was ineligible for financial aid. However, he received support from Dominican University and graduated from there in 2011. Before graduating, he was arrested in Atlanta protesting a bill that prohibited undocumented students from attending Georgia's highest ranked public universities. He is riding the bus because he is frustrated by the ways his status has continued to limit his opportunities after graduating college and he wants to see  more of the United States.

Bio: Julio Salgado

Julio Salgado lives in Berkeley, California and is the Art Director of Dreamers Adrift, a creative project documenting the struggles of undocumented youth. He arrived in California from Mexico in 1995 when he was 11 years old, and became undocumented as a child when he overstayed his visa. Julio is a leader in implementing cultural organizing tactics in the immigrant rights movement, and believes that we (undocumented people) should be leaders in documenting our history. He has a bachelors degree in journalism from California State University and is riding the bus because “[he] want[s] to make sure other folks know we have to come out and not be afraid.”

Bio: Gabriela Alcazar

Gabriela Alcazar was born in Chicago, Illinois and considers Detroit, Michigan her home. Although she is not undocumented herself, she remembers waiting for her mother at the U.S. Mexico border, and “the fear and uncertainty that comes with not knowing whether I would get to see my mom.” She has been in immigration offices and government agencies since she was 10 years old, interpreting for her family. It was there that she noticed that people with lawyers were treated better, and decided that she would become an attorney that would help immigrants who could not afford lawyers. Since then she has found other options to support Latinos and immigrants, in particular community organizing. She stepped up her involvement in immigrant rights organizing when her brother in law was deported, while at her school a student organization was putting together a “catch an illegal immigrant” game. She is on the bus because she believes that there is power in undocumented people organizing, and that these actions “have the potential to shift the tide so that the country is more inclusive of all undocumented people.”

Bio: Victor Alvarez

Victor Alvarez has lived in the United States for the last 15 years. He migrated from Mexico looking for a better life and opportunities. He has worked in farms in Pennsylvania and South Carolina picking blue berries, apples, and pears for three years. He eventually moved to North Carolina, the place where he has made his home. He became involved in immigrant rights organizing in 2006, when local organizations began to work against the bill SB 1070, which criminalized undocumented immigrants and supporters. He began to volunteer with community organizations, including the Coalición de Organizaciones Latino Americanas (COLA) in Charlotte, as well as his church. He continues his advocacy work pushed by seeing families separated every day by deportation programs. He is on the bus because he is fighting for the future of his family, “so that tomorrow we can hold our head high without looking down, and be able to unite to create something positive. We can leave fear behind, but we need to change the laws too.”

Bio: Carlos Mendoza

Carlos Mendoza used to have a good job in Mexico working in the financial department of a auto-parts factory, however in 2001 as a result of the National Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) he saw as his co-workers were replaced, and eventually lost his job.  He moved to the U.S. in 2003 to North Carolina, first by himself, and then with the rest of his family. When the 287(g) program was implemented in his community four years ago, he first thought it would be a good thing targeting people who were dangerous for the neighborhood. However, he soon began to see check points all over the city, targeting people who had families, who were workers, his neighbors. This is when he began to volunteer with his church and local organizations. Then he had a work-related accident, where he broke both of his wrists, and his employer refused to support him. It took an entire community-led campaign to make his employer accountable. This is when Mendoza realized that community organizing works, and has become a worker’s rights advocate in North Carolina. He is on the bus because he wants his children to grow up and live without fear, in a country that provides all opportunities to succeed.

Bio: Marisa Franco

Marisa Franco was born in Guadalupe, Arizona, with family coming from Sonora, Mexico. She grew up identifying as a Chicana amongst a strong and rich Mexican/ Chicano community. She has a long history of organizing and being involved in activism. One of the first forms of speaking out against immigration policy was when she was in high school and she heard about proposition 187, a state-wide legislation that would have significantly cut off access to public services, including schools, for undocumented migrants. Growing up she continued to be vocal about injustices, and tried various types of approaches to social change, including service, advocacy, student activism, and feeling like she was hitting the ceiling. Then she took a trip to Cuba, where she appreciated the self-determination of people, with all its contradictions, but it inspired her to become an organizer. She has worked on a variety of social justice issues, including prison rights, rights of people who are homeless, welfare reform, gentrification and migrant rights.  When Arizona’s SB 1070 began being discussed, she went to her home state, Arizona, to organize for the first time there, and feels like she found her purpose. She is on the bus because she strongly believes that it is time to pose dilemmas that make us all uncomfortable in order to reach a place that addresses the problems facing the community. She says, “I want to be part of efforts to create space for the leadership of people affected by these different policies. It is the right thing, the right time.”

Bio: Juan Jose Mangandi

Juan Jose Mangandi is a day laborer and an artist. He lives in Los Angeles and does theatre work to help people find pride and hope, and to let people know they are not alone in their experiences as undocumented community members. “I’m on the Undocubus to fight fear and persecution. To let people know that we are on a Journey for dignity, and that there are many brave people willing to challenge the stigma of being undocumented, facing rejection and fear face to face. Along the way we are finding strong allies and learning that as a community we are strong.”

Bio: Jovana Renteria

Jovana Renteria is 33 years old and lives in  Arizona. Seeing her peers and family fall into drug epidemic she got involved with MECHA, while in high school, wanting to do something about it. “It was killing me that I could not do anything, there was no help anywhere. I could see families being separated on daily basis, my own included.” Her mother’s husband was deported. Jovana is on the bus “to bring a higher awareness of the real stories of people that are really being affected by [immigration policies] and what they are doing about it [to fight back]. And provide legal support.”

Bio: Diane Ovalle

Diane Ovalle lives in Phoenix AZ and is 27 years old. Immigration policies and incarceration hit close to home. When her partner was picked up by police on the freeway and placed in deportation proceedings she felt like there was nothing she could do. She could not go to see him in detention and had no way of getting in contact with him. Her community held car wash fundraisers and tried to find a lawyer to fight his case. Diane also has two family members in jail and sees the ways in which immigrants and other populations are criminalized and funneled into one system that uses people as a source of profit. As laws got worse in Arizona for immigrants Diane’s interest of how to volunteer and assist the community grew. She volunteers with Puente organizing with whole families. She is on the bus to provide documentation for the caravan “to show the connections we have made, the stories shared. I am a lover of studying what social movements have done, and I’m exited to see how us traveling with out fear will help support other communities to move forward out of the shadows, and to see how to support other communities who are going dealing with the effects of laws like SB 1070.”

Bio: Erika Ovalle

Erika Ovalle lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She grew up around gangs and seeing police abusing their power. When she was young the police came to look for one of her brothers without a search warrant, but still kicked down all the doors and threatened to shoot their pet dogs. This was one her earliest experiences with law enforcement. Her two older brothers are in prison, and so she feels a deep connection with criminalization and family separation. She began organizing in school with the MECHA group, feeling at home with the symbols and images rooted in Mexica culture, and since then has been involved in various community organizations, helped organize school walk outs and protests. She can often be found with a megaphone leading chants whenever needed. She is on the bus because she sees the human rights violations that happen every day in Arizona. “I want to support my fellow human community to fight for human rights. I see this as historic struggle for rights and freedom and I am proud and humble to be on it.”

Bio: Euclides Lozano

Euclides Lozano is 49 years old, and has been the driver for the No Papers No Fear bus. He came to the U.S. over 20 years ago from El Salvador and lives in Maryland. His experience organizing comes from living in El Salvador during war, and being part of the popular movement when he was 16.  He applied for political asylum but did not obtain it, and in 1988 was able to regularize his status during the immigration amnesty. He continued organizing Salvadorians and solidarity groups denouncing violations to human rights. Regarding his participation on the bus, he says he came because his daughter told him he was needed. “As an immigrant I share the same struggle to be treated as a human being, with dignity, who deserves respect and rights. Anti immigrant laws are currently attacking those rights. When I came the laws were different and through amnesty I was able to work and live a better life. That is why I am here. I believe regularizing undocumented immigrants would benefit not just them but the whole country as people work, pay taxes, and contribute.”

Bio: Kitzia Esteva

Kitzia Esteva was born in Mexico D.F. and came to California nine and a half years ago to reunite with her family. Her mom, sister and two nephews came two years before seeking treatment for her nephew diagnosed with leukemia. She is now 25 and living in Los Angeles, California. She remembers being stopped by the police one for not wearing a seatbelt, and fearing that she would be identified as an undocumented immigrant if fingerprinted. For her, being undocumented has meant not being able to work legally to help her family, losing work opportunities, being employed as a domestic worker, and being afraid to be separated from her family. Her mother, who is also on the bus, has helped her be active in social justice struggles by setting an example. As Kitzia got involved in community organizations she began to learn that what she had experienced as undocumented was happening to many, and that there is power in organizing. Kitzia is on the bus for her family, and “because it is a powerful way to confront the way immigrants are treated and change the conversation of criminalization towards one of dignity.”

Bio: Barni Axmed Qaasim

Barni Axmed Qaasim came to Phoenix, Arizona when she was 3 years old from Mogadishu, Somalia. She is a product of Love & Migration because her family has roots in Somalia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Yemen. "I grew up in Phoenix and felt deeply hurt when I saw a white supremacist attack being launched on people who I grew up with. I think of my family members who have been forced to migrate out of Somalia & Yemen because of war, famine and poverty. Their trek across harsh terrain to Europe and the trek across the Sonoran Desert is the same struggle -and the causes are the same: poverty, political corruption and transnational corporations." Barni is a documentary filmmaker and volunteer for Puente and the Somali Association of Arizona. She is  dedicated to capturing images and sounds that shine a light on the efficacy and strength of communities that are left out of or are misrepresented by mainstream media. "It is my hope that my work honors the sophisticated oration and poetry tradition of my Somali culture."

Bio: Gloria Esteva

Gloria Esteva was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. While she was there she was already working with her community, specifically defending worker’s rights. She came to the United States to support her grandson, who became sick with leukemia after a petroleum leak in his native state of Veracruz. She moved with him to San Francisco, where she spent the next four years taking care of him and writing about his life. She considers herself a community organizer who tries to talk to people in ways and language that they understand. She says that as she has gotten to know the people of the United States, she has realized that there are many who believe in justice, and that them and everyone in the country should think about the contributions that immigrants have made to their personal lives, and realize that “we deserve dignity and respect.” She is on the bus with her daughter because she is tired of living in the shadows, and wants her community to know that she organizes and lives without fear despite not having immigration documents.

Arpaio Opponents Protest Outside Courthouse

Source: http://politics.kfyi.com/cc-common/mainheadlines3.html?feed=118695&article=10282394

Two small groups of opponents of Sheriff Joe Arpaio protested outside the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix as Arpaio's department was on trial inside.
 
Members of the Puente Movement said "The community has already found Joe Arpaio guilty – guilty of crimes against humanity, guilty of racial profiling and human rights violations."  They chanted "Arrest Arpaio, not the people."
 
They plan to announce details next week of a bus tour – called the "undocu-bus" – that will do a tour of southern states beginning late this month, ending at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.  Many of those on the bus tour will be illegal immigrants who describe themselves as "undocumented and unafraid."
 
Meanwhile, a short distance away on the sidewalk outside the courthouse, an interfaith group called Promise Arizona held a prayer and song vigil.  One person held a sign that said "Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone in every circumstance. –Pope Benedict XVI"
 
PHOTOS: The protest/news conference by Puente Movement and the prayer/song vigil by Promise Arizona.

Joe Arpaio Racial-Profiling Trial Draws Protestors' Calls for Justice on Opening Day

Source: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2012/07/protestors_call_for_justice_arpaio_doj.php

Dozens of protestors converged on the Sandra Day O'Connor federal courthouse today to monitor the opening proceedings of the ACLU's racial-profiling lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his office.

Melendres v. Arpaio, filed about four years ago, is a class-action lawsuit that includes plaintiffs alleging civil-rights violations committed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

"We do want to see that this justice system finds [Arpaio] guilty of abusing his powers as sheriff of Maricopa County," Promise Arizona executive director Petra Falcon says.

Falcon doesn't believe that Arpaio is untouchable.

She cited the disbarment of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and the recall of former state Senate President Russell Pearce as proof that public officials who abuse their power can be removed one way or another.

"That's why we're here," Falcon says. "I do think that justice will be served."

Members of the human-rights group Puente Arizona brought two undocumented members of their group out to the forefront of their demonstration. They proudly revealed their names for all media in attendance.

"I've been living in fear for a couple of years now with Arpaio's raids," Puente member Natally Cruz says. "My family has suffered from it. I think it's enough. You're not going to scare us anymore. We're tired of it, and we're undocumented and unafraid."

Less than a handful of pro-Arpaio protestors -- three from what we saw -- came out to support their beloved sheriff for a short time.

One pro-Arpaio protestor -- hoisting a stopthebias.org picket sign -- declined to speak with New Times

There was a brief exchange of words between a couple of members of Puente and two of the three Arpaio protestors who showed up, but it quickly died down as the two Arpaio apologists left the area.

Puente Arizona and Promise for Arizona will be back in full-force on Tuesday, when Arpaio is set to take the witness stand.

Get on the Undocubus

Source: http://culturestrike.net/get-on-the-undocubus

While many undocumented immigrants are forced to live as virtual prisoners in their own homes, fearing any encounter with the government authorities, some pro-migrant activists are not only taking to the streets, they’re taking the show on the road.

The “No Papers, No Fear” campaign will mobilize activists across the country as it blazes a trail from Phoenix, Arizona–where the SB1070 law jumpstarted the campaign for immigrant rights–through New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee–states where politicians have considered similarly draconian anti-immigrant measures. The final destination will be the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina.

The “Undocubus,” set to take off on July 29, will mirror the example of the freedom rides of the Civil Rights movement, and like the original freedom riders, these folks know what it means to cross into hostile territory, and to challenge racist, anti-immigrant attacks through strength in numbers.

The tour will launch following a week of action against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, centering on a civil rights lawsuit that accuses his Maricopa County office of terrorizing Latino communities with discriminatory policing.

The campaign’s manifesto proclaims the mission of making undocumented immigrants visible in the political arena, as well as in the communities where they’ve long been present:

Riders are undocumented people from all over the country, including students, mothers and fathers, children, people in deportation proceedings, day laborers, and others who continue to face deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life. …

The tour will end in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention where the party that promises reform but has thus far produced records deportations will decide whether to include or exclude the undocumented leaders who will have braved so much to get there. 

Riding the bus alone is a great risk because of the checkpoints and profiling that has become so common. But the ride is also arena for mobilizing, where we will build with those who have a story to tell, who have realized the only secure community is an organized one. We have overcome our fears and are ready to set a new example of courage. We hope this country and its officials will be brave enough to follow.

This week, the Undocubus will get a final push from a fundraising theater festival on July 25 and a march on July 28 in Phoenix, led by Puente Human Rights Movement and others. If you can’t catch a ride with them, you can follow them on social media, and more importantly, bring their message into your community by spreading the word about the campaign.

Faced with the entrenched discrimination and institutionalized oppression of existing immigration laws, it’s no wonder they’ve taken a page out of history by launching an immigrant version of the Freedom Rides. The activists who rode the buses through the Jim Crow south understood that, after so many years of legal battles, clashes in the streets, and political stagnation, direct action was their only path to effecting change. The young idealists didn’t anticipate all the violence and hardship that lay ahead, but they came to embrace their roles as a fulcrum in the inevitable turn of history.

In contrast to the civil rights movement, the riders on the Undocubus aren’t agitating on issues of voting rights and Jim Crow segregation. But they are carrying on the call for racial and economic justice that the civil rights era set in motion, and will continue to roll forward with each rising generation and demographic shift. The activists leading the No Papers, No Fear movement demand respect, dignity and inclusion–things that current civil rights laws cannot guarantee without the political will of grassroots advocates, and the mobilization of the disenfranchised.

Coming Out at Arpaio's Trial

 


 


 


Photos: Arrested at Arpaio's Trial

 

 

 

We'll Make Arpaio's Job Easy Because We're Not Afraid Anymore

My name is Leticia Ramirez. I have 18 years living in the US. I was brought here by my parents when I was nine. I do a food for children program where kids get breakfast and lunch each day.

Life in Arizona has gotten complicated since they passed their anti-immigrant laws. Now we can't go out of the house or enjoy time with our children. We're afraid to leave because of the police who harass us. Because they want to arrest us. My husband, I have so much fear for him. He leaves every morning at 3am and he gets back at 12pm. But the times when he doesn't arrive on time I get scared that we won't see him, that our family will suffer, especially our children.

That's why I've decided I can't be afraid any more, to fight for my community and my family and against all the laws and against what Arpaio is doing to our community. That's why I've decided to be arrested in our struggle for our community and my family.

Undocumented Arizonans Risk Arrest, Come Out at Arapio Trial

Source: Arizona Free Press | http://www.azfreepress.org/2012/07/24/breaking-undocumented-arizonans-risk-arrest-come-out-at-arpaio-trial/

Four Undocumented Arizonans Risk Arrest in Coming Out of the Shadows Civil Disobedience. ‘We Have No Papers and We Are Not Afraid Any Longer,” protestors say.

While Arpaio testifies inside the U.S. courthouse, four undocumented individuals are in the street at the Federal Courthouse (401 W. Washington Street) with a banner that says “No Papers, No Fear: Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo.”

The group released the following statement:

“As undocumented people living in Arizona, we know firsthand what it is like to live under Arpaio’s terror and the constant threat of deportation.  Many of us started participating in the movement for justice the day that Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law.  We knew at that moment that things were so terrible, we had to do something to protect our families and our communities.  We have learned our rights and our experience has shown us that the best way to fight back is to come out of the shadows and organize.

We have marched and we have protested.  Today we are taking civil disobedience to ensure that our voices are heard.  We are no longer afraid.  Today, we confront publicly what we risk every day, being arrested by the police, and separated from our families, only because we are undocumented. We’re confronting fear itself. We are undocumented and unafraid.  We hope to inspire others in our own community to lose their fear, to come out of the shadows, and to organize.”

The four individuals are: Miguel Guerra, 37; Natally Cruz, 24; Leticia Ramirez, 27; and Isela Meraz, 28.

Miguel Guerra has lived in Phoenix, AZ, since 1998, with his wife and his three children. He works in construction, and has been a volunteer with the Puente Human Rights Movement since shortly after the passage of SB1070, when the organization helped him recover stolen wages from an employer. That same year, he was racially profiled and pulled over by Phoenix PD for an alleged traffic violation and had his car impounded, because as an undocumented immigrant he cannot get a driver’s license. He says that he is willing to take action and risk deportation for dignity. “We want to come out of the shadows.  We want President Obama to see that we are no longer afraid and that that we are demanding that he take action to solve our community’s problems.”

Natally Cruz has made her home in Phoenix, AZ for the last 16 years, since she was seven years old.  She has been a part of the Puente Human Rights Movement for over two years, learning and educating others about the rights of undocumented people.  Over the same period of time, five members of her family have been harassed or detained by Arpaio and his collaborators. Her main motivation to fight for her community is her 7-year-old son.  She says, “We have to come out of the shadows just like the students did: we have to let people know that we are tired of being stepped on.  We are not scared anymore. Enough is enough.”

Leticia Ramirez lives in Phoenix, AZ.  She is a community organizer and health promoter with the Puente Human Rights Movement.  She came to the United States in 1994 when she was 9 years old because her father found better work here than he was able to in Mexico.  She has three U.S. citizen children, and watches her family and her community experience racial profiling every day.  She says, “I am a cake decorator and I can’t even find work doing what I like because I don’t have papers. I want to open the community’s eyes and show them what it looks like to not be afraid, to come out the shadows, and stand united.”

Isela Meraz (Chela) has lived in Phoenix, AZ since 1991. Chela was 8 years old when she came to the US with her parents who wanted a better education and life for their family. She is active in the community, from organizing in the streets, participating in hunger strikes and spiritual fast, to organizing art shows for queer cultura, 3rdSpace, and working with PUENTE. This is Chela’s first time doing a civil disobedience action. “I’m doing this for my parents. For the sacrifice they made bringing me here. To let them know that the obstacle I have encountered are the system’s fault and not theirs. I want people to not be afraid anymore, to know that even though we are undocumented we have rights. We need to tell our stories with pride.”

Live-tweeting and photos available at @undocubus and on Ustream at nopapersnofear.org

Photos of the action and arrest, courtesy of Undocu-bus.

Four undocumented Arizonans risk arrest to demand justice.  A supportive crowd surrounds them, embodying the larger community they fight for.  Leticia (above, lower photo) is sitting with her daughter, from whom she may be separated as a result of her civil disobedience.

Police arrive to the protest.

Chela being arrested. The officer in the foreground is squinting from the sun, but  may betray a contemplative countenance, attempting to make sense of the laws he is obliged to enforce.

Natally, handcuffed, standing true to her principles, demonstrating a courage she hopes to impart upon her whole community.  Undocumented, unafraid.

Arestado por querer una vida mejor

Mi nombre es Miguel Guerra y yo estoy aquí desde 1998.  Vine por un mejor futuro para mí y para mi familia.   Y aquí estoy luchando, luchando por un buen trabajo.

Nosotros principalmente aquí en la organización de Puente estamos luchando por nuestros derechos, por nuestra dignidad.  Aparte estamos saliendo de las sombras también.  

Por mi persona, yo ya estoy cansado. Yo ya estoy cansada de tantas leyes anti-inmigrantes que están pasando aquí en Arizona.  Yo voy a hacer una de las personas que alce la voz, para que nuestra gente salga a la calle.

Y ya hemos llegado al punto de que no tenemos miedo.  Por que nos hemos informado y ahorita lo que estamos haciendo esta tarde que a la gente se oriente, se informe, y que no salga huyendo.

Yo me quiero quedar aquí en este país por mis hijos.  ¿Por que? Por que yo quiero darles un mejor futuro a ellos, quiero que ellos hagan sus carreras aquí, yo quiero verles crecer.  Yo quiero quedar aqui ellos que sean triunfadores tambien.

En mi país ahora esta muy difícil, antes estaba mas o menos.  Ahorita ya esta muy difícil la violencia, la violencia ya esta muy difícil.  Yo soy de la frontera.  Yo tengo hermanos policías y ellos están siempre con el miedo también.

Yo tengo un trabajo estable.  Y en un futuro, me gustaría arreglar mis papeles como debe de ser, trabajar honestamente, y manejar con orgullo.  Y de nosotros estamos aportando a este país. Yo ya tengo catorce años haciendo mis taxes.  Estoy dándole dinero a este país. Y el no me ha dado nada de cambio.  Este es otro de las propuestas mias, hacer una compañía mas adelante en el futuro, tener mi propia compañía.  Entonces, ese es mi motivo de quedarme aquí.

Queremos decir a la gente, principalmente, que no tenga miedo, que nosotros estamos haciendo por ellos también.  A particular, lo estoy haciendo por mi, por mi familia, por mi comunidad y por la demás gente que no sabe que no tiene que tener miedo.

Aparte  vamos a ir a la Convencion Nacional de Democratas para  decirle a Obama que ya basta de abusos, que queremos que quite las Comunidades Seguras, nos quitaron el 287g pero Comunidades Seguras no nos la quitaron por eso siguen las deportaciones.  Y eso es lo que queremos, que ya basta de tantas injusticias, que queremos algo positivo, no algo negativo para el país.

If we can overcome our fear, so can anyone

I’ve been here half of my life.  I could say most of my life I’ve been here in Arizona.  My parents brought me here for a better life.  I have a son who I think deserves the same that my parents wanted for me.

My name is Natally Cruz.  I am 24 years old. I’ve been in the United States for sixteen years.  I have a seven year old son and I live with my aunt and uncle.

Once I graduated from high school, I was unable to go to school.  I was unable to work because I didn’t have a social security number.

I got involved with Puente two years ago when SB1070 started.  What made me really want to get involved was the part that we could be discriminated against just by the color of our skin. 

To me, it was really important to learn about the health issues because most of our community members do not have insurance to be able to help themselves if they get sick or something. The basic that we learned was like the high blood pressure, how to take it ourselves.

I’m going to get arrested because I am tired of living in fear.  I am tired of all these laws that are passing not just here in Arizona but in the whole United States. And most of all for my family and my community.

I want them to know that we are not just doing this for ourselves, for our families, but for them too. We have seen so many families being separated each and every day. And people like the ones who are going to get arrested are the people who are being deported every day.

We want them to know we are coming out of our fear.  They can come out as well.

Protestors Arrested chanting "No Papers No Fear, Dignity is Finally Here"

PHOENIX -- Even as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was on the stand answering questions about allegations of racial profiling, a group of undocumented immigrants gathered to share their stories with the media.

In addition to talking about living in Arizona, the group planned to "call for other undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows."

The protest, which involved some 60 people, spilled out into the street in front of the Sandra Day O'Connor United States Courthouse, 401 W. Washington Street in Phoenix. Dozens of police officers were called to the scene to try and clear the street.

Video from the scene showed officers taking several people into custody and escorting them away in handcuffs. It's not yet clear exactly how many people were detained.

The protest started with four individuals carrying a banner that said “No Papers, No Fear: Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo.”

Those people have been identified of Miguel Guerra, 37; Natally Cruz, 24, Leticia Ramirez, 27; and Isela Maraz, 28. All four are undocumented immigrants living in Phoenix, and all were willing to risk arrest to make their message heard.

Cruz, Ramirez and Maraz were all brought to the U.S. as children. Guerra came here when he was in his early 20s.

The group released the following statement:

“As undocumented people living in Arizona, we know firsthand what it is like to live under Arpaio’s terror and the constant threat of deportation. Many of us started participating in the movement for justice the day that Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law. We knew at that moment that things were so terrible, we had to do something to protect our families and our communities. We have learned our rights and our experience has shown us that the best way to fight back is to come out of the shadows and organize.

"We have marched and we have protested. Today we are taking civil disobedience to ensure that our voices are heard. We are no longer afraid. Today, we confront publicly what we risk every day, being arrested by the police, and separated from our families, only because we are undocumented. We're confronting fear itself. We are undocumented and unafraid. We hope to inspire others in our own community to lose their fear, to come out of the shadows, and to organize.”

The news conference that preceded the protest was hosted by Puente Arizona, a community-based group that describes itself as "part of the global movement for migrant justice and human rights."

The group has been outspoken in its criticism of Arpaio and his department.

Arpaio is being sued in civil court on allegations that his trademark immigration sweeps amounted to racial profiling against Hispanics.

Plaintiffs, Latinos who say they have been the target of discrimination, say Arpaio singles out Latinos in disproportionate numbers, which amounts to racial profiling. Arpaio has steadfastly denied the accusations.

There are no fines or jail time on the line in this lawsuit. The plaintiffs simply want a declaration that Arpaio's office racially profiles Latinos and an order requiring policy changes.

The trial began last week and is expected to wrap up next week. There is no jury in the case. U.S. District Judge Murray Snow will make the decision.

Tuesday's protest was of a larger movement that is traveling across the country in the coming days. the "Undocubus Ride for Justice" is slated to leave Phoenix Sunday, hitting several key states, including New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. It will end its journey at the Democratic National Convention, which takes place Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C.

Originally published at http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/Undocuments-immigrants-share-experiences-while-Arpaio-testifies-in-his-own-defense-163592626.html

Democracy Now: 4 Undocumented Arizonans Reveal Status at Arpaio's Trial

Posted from http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/26/no_papers_no_fear_as_arpaio

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio took the stand for six hours this week in a civil-rights trial accusing him of using racial profiling to target undocumented immigrants in Arizona. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit on behalf of residents targeted at traffic stops for detention, despite having a valid visa and identification. As Arpaio testified, four undocumented immigrants were arrested outside the courthouse for blocking an intersection and had immigration detainers placed on them in jail. At least one now faces deportation. We speak with Carlos Garcia, organizer with the Arrest Arpaio Not the People Campaign and Puente Arizona. Later this month he will participate in the "No Papers No Fear" bus tour with undocumented immigrant activists. Its final stop will be the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina.

Undocumented Arizonans Announce Participation in National Bus Tour to Overcome Fear and Organize Migrant Community

All Four Arrested at Arpaio Trial Released.

What: Press Conference with Undocumented members of Puente who were arrested in civil disobedience
When: 10:00am Friday, July 27.
Where: 2035 N. Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ
Visuals: Released undocumented members of Puente reunited with family members, rally with signs and banners.

Yesterday afternoon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released Miguel Guerra on a bond pending court appearance. Guerra was the last remaining protestor to be released because he was taken into custody by ICE even after a judge ordered him and three other undocumented Arizonans released on their own recognizance. While Leticia Ramirez, Natally Cruz, and Isela Meraz were let out from fourth avenue jail, Guerra was instead transferred to ICE. The four were arrested a civil rights protest against Sheriff Arpaio during his racial profiling trial earlier in the week.

By voluntarily risking arrest and being placed in Sheriff Arpaio's jail, the undocumented Arizonans confronted what had previously been their greatest fear and demonstrated that everyone is safer as part of organized communities prepared to defend their rights and prevent their violation.

The four will announce their participation in a national 'No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice' at a press conference this morning. Undocumented migrants will board a bus in Phoenix, Arizona and publicly travel to hot spots of Arizona copy-cats and anti-immigrant sentiment to come out as unafraid, support local organizing, and challenge proponents of hate. The journey will end in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention.

"I was part of our civil disobedience because I want to open the eyes of my community and I want all of us to have the same courage I found to come out of the shadows and stop living in fear." explained LeticiaRamirez. "I'm getting on the bus because I'm tired of living in fear and knew I had to be part of making a change. We'll share with everyone what we've learned in Phoenix and get the immigrant community together across the country. If you see what happened to us knowing our rights, going in, and getting out of jail you can see that we're safer when we're organized. We hope that it will be a good impact and to educate people who don't know our real lives."

Puente is calling for a march this Saturday from Indian School Park at 9:00am to continue protest of the Sheriff and ICE's collaboration to deport Maricopa County residents and to call for the cancellation of Guerra's pending deportation proceedings.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice can be found at http://nopapersnofear.org

Follow @puenteaz and @undocubus on twitter for updates.

###

NY Times: Bus Ride to Live in Shadows No More

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/28/us/immigrants-seek-to-highlight-a-problem-through-a-bus-trip.html

 

PHOENIX — The route they will take on their cross-country trek resembles a slithering snake — up, down and around in a series of intentional detours that are equal parts political strategy and provocation. Their bus leaves from this sprawling city in the desert at sunrise on Monday, carrying 30 men and women who say they have chosen to live in the shadows no more.

If all goes as planned, they will get to Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 3, just as the Democratic National Convention is getting started. For the [undocumented] immigrants taking the ride, it is time to make front and center a problem they feel President Obama has failed to confront.

They do blame Congress and the Republicans for stonewalling attempts at immigration reform, but as one of the riders put it, “they’re not the only ones at fault.”

“No papers, no fear” is their motto, and the words are stamped on T-shirts and posters that went on sale at a party here on Wednesday to raise money for food and water, lodging and toiletries, gas and rent of the bus, and also a bail fund. It is not as if anyone is looking to get arrested, but they are preparing for it.

The bus will traverse unfriendly territory for immigrants who are in the country [without status] — states like Georgia and Alabama, where the police are allowed to check the immigration status of certain people they detain.

It will cut across Louisiana and Mississippi, both of which tried — and failed — to enact legislation imposing penalties against [undocumented] immigrants. It will slice through Tennessee, where in Davidson County, the sheriff boasts about his role helping federal authorities deport them.

They hope to expand on the activist role carved out by immigrants who were brought to the country as children, many of whom would be shielded from deportation under a policy enacted last month by the Obama administration. (Many of the riders on the bus are the parents of young people whose protests eventually spurred the administration’s action.)

“I’m running this risk because I want us to be respected, I want us to be recognized as the human beings that we are,” Maria Cruz Ramirez said at the party, where she sat before a makeshift stage, surrounded by other bus riders.

Ms. Ramirez, 46, said she came here 11 years ago from the Mexican state of Hidalgo to give her three children, whom she had brought along, a chance at a better life.

Gerardo Torres, 41, said he arrived here 18 years ago from the Mexican state of Aguascalientes so he could live freely as a gay man.

David Ramirez, 22, is among the youngest of the riders — a green-eyed Mexican from the state of Durango who said he was brought to the United States when he was 9, too young to have made his own choice.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in economics, for whatever it’s worth,” said Mr. Ramirez, who graduated in the spring from Dominican University, just outside Chicago, where he lives.

For them, the bus offers a chance for empowerment and kinship. The ride to North Carolina is scheduled to last six weeks, and Ms. Ramirez, who said she had never spent time away from her children, has forged a close friendship with Mr. Ramirez, who is almost as old as the oldest of her sons and is traveling on his own.

She said she had set aside the documents her family would need to run their lives and the household in case she does not make it back: Mexican birth certificates, bank account information, phone numbers of friends who can help them.

Mr. Torres said joining the ride forced him to come out to cousins, aunts and uncles who had no idea he is gay. “I want to be the voice of the queer community,” and the only way to do that is to embrace his homosexuality publicly, he said.

Mr. Ramirez said he had made no special plans.

“I’m walking on faith,” he said.

As the party wrapped up, guests began to collect the chairs as actors from the New Carpa Theater dismantled the makeshift stage, set up in the auditorium of a labor union hall on 24th Street.

It had been a night of performances, like the short play featuring an encounter between Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, known for his crackdowns on [undocumented] immigrants. In it, Mr. Arpaio asked Guadalupe for her papers, while Guadalupe asked him to repent. He refused, and she left him to find his way out of the desert along the border, a place many Mexicans have died trying to cross.

“This Land Is Your Land” played softly in the background.

Migrants Plan Multi-State Protest Tour - USA Today

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-07-27/illegal-immigrants-protest-bus-tour/56545508/1

A group of undocumented immigrants angry over deportations and racial profiling will embark on a multistate bus tour Monday that will culminate Sept. 1, just before the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Organizers of the tour have plotted out a path starting in Phoenix that takes them through states and cities they say have enacted some of the harshest laws against undocumented immigrants, such as Arizona's SB 1070. They plan a series of acts of "civil disobedience" along the way that they hope will shine a light on laws they say unfairly target them. They're doing it fully aware that they could end up in jail, or possibly in deportation proceedings.

"My mother is nervous," said Gerardo Torres, 41, a carpenter from Phoenix whose entire family lives in Mexico, "but she was a little bit happy that she might see me back in Mexico if I get deported."

Natally Cruz, 24, was brought to the country without documents by her family when she was 7. All her life, she tried to live under the radar, trying to avoid contact with police or immigration officials. When Arizona passed SB 1070, a law designed to crack down on undocumented immigrants in 2010, she started protesting more openly.

She has joined a growing number of undocumented immigrants who have "come out" in recent years, declaring their status in hopes of drawing more attention to their situation. She said that strategy is meant to counter people such as Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made targeting undocumented immigrants a focal point of his term in office.

"If he sees our community scared, he has the motivation to keep doing what he's doing, to keep us in the shadows," Cruz said. "If we show him we're not scared, he kind of loses his power."

Sheriff Arpaio is defending himself against a class-action civil rights lawsuit against his department. The sheriff's office is accused of making discriminatory arrests based on skin color and heritage. That case is in trial.

The sheriff said a bus tour will not affect the way he does his job. "You think these demonstrators talking about me are going to stop this from happening?" he said in a phone interview. "They're wasting their time talking about me, because I'm still going to enforce the laws. … They won't get me to surrender by taking a bus."

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who has long argued for strict enforcement of undocumented immigration, isn't swayed by the bus tour argument either.

"With 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed and 7 million undcoumented immigrants working in the U.S., we need to enforce our immigration laws to open up jobs for legal workers," Smith said.

B. Loewe, a spokesman for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is coordinating the trip, said the bus will travel to Colorado, down through New Orleans, Atlanta and several other cities on the way to Charlotte.

Loewe said the group will end the trip just before the convention, where President Obama will formally receive his party's nomination for president, to try to force members of the party to stop the record number of deportations and reduce the strength of anti-immigrant laws.

Obama's administration has taken some big strides to accommodate the Hispanic electorate, including a program announced in June that will allow up to 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the USA as children to stay. But he has upset many in the community, partly because his administration has set a record each year with the number of people it deports.

That is the kind of policy the undcoumented immigrants hope to change through the tour.

"I am nervous, but for me, the status quo is not an option anymore. I have to fight for my rights. I have to fight for those who are more afraid than me," Torres said. "I want to do it for them."

NY Times: Migrants' Freedom Ride

[Para Español haz clic aquí]

On Sunday night or early Monday, about three dozen people are planning to set out on a six-week bus voyage through the dark terrain of American immigration politics. Their journey is to begin, fittingly, in the desert in Arizona, national capital of anti-immigrant laws and oppressive policing. It will wind through other states where laws and failed policies force immigrants to toil outside the law — New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee — and end in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention.

There the riders plan to deliver a defiant message to a president who is hoping to return to office on a wave of Latino support that they believe he has not earned.

There is something very different about this particular protest. Many of those planning to ride the bus are undocumented and — for the first time — are not afraid to say so. Immigrants who dread arrest and deportation usually seek anonymity. These riders, weary of life in the shadows and frustrated by the lack of progress toward reform, will be telling federal authorities and the local police: Here are our names. This is our plan. If you want us, come get us.

The momentum for this daring ride, called the “UndocuBus,” began building last Tuesday at the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix. The immigrants’ nemesis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was testifying at trial that day about his office’s long history of racial profiling and discriminatory policing. Out on the street, the midday glare off the pavement was blinding. Four unauthorized immigrants — Leticia Ramirez, Miguel Guerra, Natally Cruz and Isela Meraz — sat blocking traffic and waited to be arrested. They were taken away in cuffs to spend the night at Sheriff Arpaio’s red-brick jail on Fourth Avenue.

Their civil disobedience should not have been necessary. Hopes for reform were high in 2006, a year of huge, peaceful pro-immigrant marches in cities across the country, after which Congress entertained comprehensive reform that had strong bipartisan support. But Republicans killed the bill, and the years of inaction that followed crushed immigrants’ hopes while reinforcing the broken status quo — to the benefit of border vigilantes, the private-prison industry, the engorged homeland security apparatus and hard-right ideologues who started planting neo-nativist laws in legislatures across the land, starting in Arizona.

As Sheriff Arpaio quickly recognized, demonizing the undocumented was a potent political tool: once an immigration moderate, he recast himself as a relentless hunter of “illegal aliens.” With federal powers delegated to him by the Homeland Security Department, he spent years conducting “saturation patrols” in Latino neighborhoods of Maricopa County, abusing and terrifying those with brown skin.

All this time, as promises were broken and reforms went nowhere, as President Obama ratcheted up deportations to record levels, and as Republicans intensified their assaults, the immigrants lay low. But then groups of students, working outside the regular channels of immigrant advocacy, bravely “came out” as undocumented and demanded justice — and won from Mr. Obama a promise not to deport them.

A few more immigrants have now chosen to come out of the shadows. It is impossible to know how many of the 10 million to 12 million undocumented might dare to do the same. And while each and every one of them deserves a chance to get right with the law, one provocative bus trip may well seem like a voyage to nowhere, given the dismal state of Congress and the low odds of immigration reform.

But this small group has already won an important victory, a victory against fear. At the cramped offices of Puente Arizona, the Phoenix organization behind the “UndocuBus,” volunteers kept busy last week updating calendars and working phone banks. They made papier-mâché masks and silk-screen posters, and decorated plastic buckets for drumming. There was packing to be done, a bus to be painted. Saturday was the day for a march, Sunday will be for the gathering in a city park, for eating, singing and saying goodbyes. After that, the bus will roll.

Originally published at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/migrants-freedom-ride.html

'No Papers, No Fear' Justice Ride Arrives to Denver to Show In Solidarity With Colorado's Undocumented Immigrants

National delegation of undocumented immigrants, make first stop in Colorado to deliver their message of courage and support. The national ride began in Phoenix, Arizona, and aims to deliver a message of courage and support for New Americans mobilizing against Colorado’s granddaddy of all ‘Show me your papers’ laws, SB-90. 

What: Press Conference
When: Tuesday July 31st, at 11:00 AM
Where: The Colorado State Capitol Building, 200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado 

Why: Denver, CO — Tuesday July 31st, a group of undocumented immigrants  and supporters will arrive in Denver, Colorado to join Colorado worker and immigrant organizations for their first stop of the ‘No Papers, No Fear Ride for Justice.’

The group arrives following the first event of the tour in Phoenix, Arizona – a protest against Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio's racial profiling, where four undocumented Arizonans  were arrested during a peaceful civil disobedience outside of his trial. The four were released, calling for Aspiring Americans to challenge fear and organize against those that promote anti-immigrant policies locally and nationally.  

On Tuesday, local community organizations and supporters will welcome the riders with a rally in front of the Colorado State Capitol, highlighting the effects of racial profiling laws like Arizona’s SB-1070 and Colorado’s own SB-90, on immigrant communities. Both bills entangle local police in federal immigration enforcement leading to racial profiling, violations of civil rights, and loss of trust in law enforcement. Advocates from around the country, including Arizona, will be sharing their experiences in organizing against these laws, and how they have begun to lose fear as undocumented immigrants. 

"When we fear those who want to attack us for who we are, we give them more power," Explains Natally Cruz, a No Papers No Fear Rider from Arizona. "When we lose our fear, that's when they lose their power as well."

Actions by undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves. The riders are undocumented poeple  from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates. Selected bios of participants for the No Papers No Fear Justice Ride attached below. 

 

Selected Biographies of No Papers No Fear Justice Ride

 

Fernando Lopez Sanchez knows what it is like to be in an immigration detention center.  Last summer he was turned over to immigration authorities in Phoenix, Arizona after being pulled over, and after he could not present a Driver’s License.  He says that while he was in detention he experienced the psychological abuse that undocumented detainees go through. “They made me feel like a criminal, like I was not worth more than a piece of paper.” He was able to get out of detention after support from the community and organizations like Puente Human Rights Movement. He is traveling on the bus, and taking the risk of being targeted once again by immigration authorities “to promote self determination of communities, to expose abuses in detention centers for migrants, and to bring justice for families.” 

 

Maria Cruz Ramirez arrived in Phoenix, AZ with her three children just a few months before September 11, 2001 to be with her husband.   She worked as a stylist in our own salon in Hidalgo, Mexico, and had hoped to have better opportunities for work in the U.S.  She has been unable to find work for the last eleven years because she is undocumented.  Two of her three children participated in a coming out of the shadows civil disobedience in Phoenix in March.  She has been a member of the Arizona Dream Guardians, a group of parents of DREAM Act-eligible youth who fundraised for their children’s educations, and she hopes to start a new parents’ group in the future that is a community defense committee and a way to increase their children’s education opportunities.  She says, “Me and my children, we give each other strength, and we struggle together.  I’m going on the bus because I want a life with dignity and a just job for myself, for my family, and for my people.  I fight for those who come after me.”

 

Gerardo Torres is a self-employed handyman and community health promoter who has lived in Phoenix, AZ for the last 18 years, after staying after the time limit of a tourist visa.  He is a member of the Puente Human Rights Movement and 3rdSpace, a group of queer brown migrants working to make their community visible.  “I want people to know that the queer undocumented community is also affected by these laws.  I want people in my communities to let go of their fear and to learn how to defend their human rights. It is a time for a change in the immigration laws: the status quo is not an option anymore.  We have to move because we are in crisis, what is happening is not working anymore.

El Freedom Ride Migrante - NYT

 

La noche del domingo o el lunes temprano, alrededor de tres docenas de personas están planeando emprender un viaje de autobús de seis semanas a través del oscuro terreno de la política migratoria estadounidense. Su viaje empieza, justamente, en el desierto de Arizona, capital nacional de leyes anti-inmigrantes y de opresión policial. 

Atravesará otros estados donde las leyes y políticas fallidas obligan a los inmigrantes a trabajar fuera de la ley - Nuevo México, Colorado, Texas, Luisiana, Alabama, Georgia y Tennessee – y terminará en Carolina del Norte durante la Convención Nacional Democrática.
 
Allí, los viajeros planean entregar un mensaje desafiante a un presidente que tiene la esperanza de mantenerse en la presidencia con una ola de apoyo latino que ellos creen no ha ganado.
 
Hay algo muy diferente acerca de esta protesta en particular. Muchos de los que planean viajar en el autobús son indocumentados y - por primera vez - no tienen miedo de decirlo. Los inmigrantes que temen arresto y deportación por lo general buscan el anonimato. Estos viajeros, cansados ​
de vivir en las sombras y frustrados por la falta de progreso hacia la reforma, le dirán a las autoridades federales y la policía local: Aquí están nuestros nombres. Este es nuestro plan. Si nos quieres, vengan a buscarnos.
 
La energía de este viaje audaz, llamado el "UndocuBus", comenzó a construirse el pasado martes en la Corte Federal en el centro de Phoenix. Ese día, el adversario de los inmigrantes, el alguacil Joe Arpaio, estaba en el juicio testificando sobre la larga historia de practicas policiales
discriminatorias y de perfil racial de su departamento. En la calle, el resplandor del mediodía en el pavimento cegaba. Cuatro inmigrantes sin documentos - Leticia Ramírez, Miguel Guerra, Cruz Meraz y Natally Isela – se sentaron a bloquear el tráfico en espera de ser arrestados. Fueron
esposados y escoltados para pasar la noche en la cárcel de ladrillo rojo del Sheriff Arpaio en la Cuarta Avenida.
 
Su desobediencia civil no debería haber sido necesaria. Las esperanzas de reforma eran altas en el 2006, año de enormes marchas pacíficas pro-inmigrantes en ciudades de todo el país, después de lo cual el Congreso desatendió la reforma integral que contaba con fuerte apoyo bipartidista.
 
Pero los republicanos mataron el proyecto de ley, y los años de inactividad que siguieron aplastaron las esperanzas de los inmigrantes, mientras se reforzaba el quebrantado status-quo - en beneficio de los vigilantes de la frontera, la industria de prisiones privatizadas, el aparato hinchado del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional y los ideólogos de extrema derecha que comenzaron la siembra de leyes neo-nativistas en las legislaturas de todo el país, comenzando en Arizona.
 
El alguacil Sheriff Arpaio se dio cuenta que demonizar a los indocumentados era una herramienta política poderosa: Habiendo tenido antes una política migratoria moderada, se redefine como un implacable cazador de “illegal aliens” (extranjeros ilegales). Con los poderes federales otorgados por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, pasó años realizando "patrullas de saturación" en los barrios latinos del Condado de Maricopa, abusando y aterrorizando a las personas con piel de color café.
 
Durante todo este tiempo, mientras se rompían promesas y las reformas no iban a ningún lado, mientras el Presidente Obama arreció las deportaciones a niveles récord y mientras los republicanos intensificaron sus ataques; los inmigrantes adoptaron un bajo perfil. Pero entonces,
grupos de estudiantes, que trabajan fuera de los canales regulares de defensa de los inmigrantes, con valentía "salieron" como indocumentados y exigieron justicia - y obtuvieron del Sr. Obama la promesa de no deportarlos.
 
Un puñado más de inmigrantes han optado por salir de las sombras. Es imposible determinar cuántos de los 10 a 12 millones se atrevan a hacer lo mismo. Y mientras todos y cada uno de ellos merecen una oportunidad para estar bien con la ley, un viaje desafiante en autobús bien puede
parecer un viaje sin rumbo, dado el estado lamentable del Congreso y de las bajas probabilidades de una reforma migratoria.
 
Pero este pequeño grupo ya ha ganado una importante victoria, ha vencido el miedo. La semana pasada, la estrecha oficina de Puente Arizona, Phoenix, la organización detrás del "UndocuBus", mantuvo voluntarios ocupados actualizando calendarios de trabajo y haciendo llamadas. 
 
Hicieron máscaras de papel maché, carteles de serigrafía y decoraron cubetas de plástico para tamborear. Había trabajo que hacer; empacar las maletas y un bus que pintar. El sábado fue el día de la marcha, el domingo será para la reunión en un parque de la ciudad, para comer, cantar y
decir adiós. Después de eso, el autobús echa su andar.

Indocumentados piden justicia en recorrido nacional

Un grupo de indocumentados participará en un recorrido en autobús por varias ciudades del país para pedir justicia que culminará en septiembre en la convención nacional demócrata que se celebrará en Charlotte (Carolina del Norte).


El recorrido nacional, denominado "Sin papeles, sin miedo. Recorrido por la justicia", comenzó este sábado en Arizona y en él participan cuatro indocumentados.


Estos cuatro inmigrantes fueron arrestados el pasado martes por la Policía en Phoenix (Arizona) por desobediencia civil, mientras el alguacil del condado Maricopa, Joe Arpaio, declaraba en la Corte Federal en un juicio por prácticas de perfil racial en contra de conductores hispanos.


Después de ser procesados por la Oficina de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE), los cuatro indocumentados, miembros del grupo Puente, fueron liberados.
El autobús recorrerá varios estados del país, entre ellos Colorado, Nuevo México, Texas, Luisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia y Carolina del Norte.


El recorrido tendrá el propósito de visitar estados que han "copiado" en sus legislaciones la polémica ley migratoria de Arizona SB1070, la primera regulación a nivel nacional en criminalizar la presencia de inmigrantes indocumentados.


"Quise ser parte de este acto de desobediencia civil porque quiero abrir los ojos de nuestra comunidad y quiero que todos tengamos el mismo coraje que yo encontré para salir de las sombras y dejar de vivir con miedo", dijo Leticia Ramírez, detenida el pasado martes y que participará en el recorrido nacional.


Ramírez indicó en un comunicado de prensa que sube al autobús porque está "cansada" de vivir con miedo y cree que ella misma tiene que ser "parte del cambio".



Indicó estar ansiosa por compartir con otros su experiencia en Arizona y hablar con la comunidad inmigrante a través de todo el país.


Además, el grupo Puente planea organizar este sábado una marcha en Phoenix para protestar por la deportación de inmigrantes indocumentados.

Carta a Una Madre Luchadora

Marichu[English below]

Hoy al comenzar tu recorrido por los campos de batalla del sur de los EEUU siento un gran orgullo decir que tengo una madre tan fuerte y valiente. Desde que yo tengo razón siempre has luchado, si no es por algo es por lo otro. ¡Así es como es mi gente!  ¡Siempre luchando, porque nunca nada se nos ha dado! Al contrario mucho se nos a arrebatado; mucho se nos ha negado. Somos gente humilde y trabajadora, eso no ha cambiado. La llama en tu corazón y la de muchos en nuestra comunidad nunca se ha apagado, aunque soplen y soplen para que se apague. Toda la injusticia y todos los ataques que han querido quebrantar el alma y las esperanzas en nuestra comunidad no han logrado su objetivo, al contrario han creado el aire para que estas llamas brillen más que nunca y para que se enciendan aun más; encendidas por coraje, indignación, amor y valor para luchar.  Tomamos sus ataques y los convertimos en combustible para seguir luchando. Para que este fuego de lucha y esperanza se extienda imparablemente abarcando e inspirando a nuestras comunidades a seguir su ejemplo y a superar el miedo. Son de las personas más valientes que eh conocido.

Agridulce es mi sentir en estos momentos; agrio por no poder compartir este momento con ustedes pero dulce porque sé que una parte de mi definidamente estará presente en su viaje. Esa parte que tengo dentro de mi corazón, la parte que tú ayudaste a construir y alimentar. Qué más puedo pedir en una madre, no habido una mejor madre para mí que tu. Lo que soy, lo soy por ti. Por el constante ejemplo de lucha, perseverancia y resistencia.  Ejemplo que ha ayudado a construir mi persona. 

Quiero que sepas que todo el esfuerzo, que como madre soltera de tres chamacos traviesos,  has hecho para sacarnos adelante a pesar de tantos obstáculos no ha sido en vano. Aunque sabias que nuestra vida sin papeles no iba ser fácil al venir aquí, nunca dejaste que eso fuera lo que determinara que tanto podríamos aportar en este mundo. ¡Valemos muchos con o sin papeles! Qué cosa tan poderosa cuando nos damos cuenta que tener un papel no es lo más importante.  Que tiene más importancia estar juntos, despiertos, vivos, sanos, empoderados, respetados  y vivir con dignidad.  No sabes lo bien que me hace tenerte luchando conmigo. Cuando las familias luchan juntas, te da aun más fuerza para seguir. ¡Gracias por estar a mi lado en esta lucha!

Esta lucha es de todos! De jóvenes, padres, niños, ancianos, de nuestra comunidad LGBTQ, de toda raza, de toda generación. Juntos y organizados somos más fuertes, juntos somos poderosos, juntos somos familia, juntos somos incendio silvestre arrasando con el odio e injusticia que afecta a nuestras comunidades. Justos somos fuego que enciende e inspira corazones.  Justos valientes.  ¡Juntos sin papeles y sin miedo!

¡De pie y pa’delante!

Diana

====================================

 

 

Letter to a mother that fights!

Today, as you begin your journey through the battlefields of the South, I feel proud and blessed to say I have a mother who is strong and brave. Ever since I remember, you have always been struggling and fighting; if it wasn’t for one thing, it was for another. This is the way my community is!  Always struggling, always fighting; because nothing has ever been given to us! On the contrary, much has been taken from us; much has been denied to us. We are humble and hardworking people;  that has not changed. The flame in your heart and in that of many in our community has never burned out, even though they blow and blow to extinguish this fire. All injustice and all the attacks that have attempted to break the soul and the hope of our community have not achieved their objective; in contrast they have created the winds for these flames to spread rapidly and shine brighter than ever and to help them ignite even more, ignited by courage, indignation, love and bravery to fight. We take their attacks and are convert them into fuel to keep fighting. So that this fire of struggle and hope spreads unstoppably reaching and inspiring others to follow in the examples of the riders and to overcome fear. These riders are of the bravest people I’ve ever known.

Bittersweet is how I feel at this moment; bitter as I am not able to share this moment with you all in person, but sweet because I know that a part of me will definitely be present on this  journey. That part that is deep in my heart, the part that you helped nourish and nurture. What else I can ask for in a mother, there hasn’t been a better mother for me than you. What I am, I am because of you; because of your constant example of struggle, fight, perseverance, endurance and resistance.  It is this example that has helped shape the person that I am today.

Know that all the effort, which as a single mother of three mischievous ones, you've done, to give us a better life in spite of the myriad of obstacles has not been in vain. Although you knew that our lives without papers would not be easy when we came here, you never allowed that to determine what we could contribute to this world, to humanity, to our community. We are worth a lot with or without papers! We are human, with or without a piece of paper! What an amazing and powerful thing it is when we realize that having a paper is not the most important thing. That it is more important to be together, awake, alive, healthy, empowered, respected and to live with dignity. You have no idea how good it is for me to have you fighting alongside me. When families fight together, you get even more strength to continue. Thanks for being by my side in this struggle!

This fight belongs to everyone! It is a struggle of many! Of youth, parents, children, elderly, LGBTQ community, of every race, of every generation. United and organized we are stronger. United we are powerful. United we are family. United we are fire extinguishing the hatred and injustice that infects our communities. United we are fire that ignites and inspires hearts. United and brave. United with no papers and no fear!

 

¡De pie y pa’delante!

Diana

 

Hija, Respuesta a tu carta.

En el día que salió la primera delegación de Phoenix para la jornada de justicia, Diana Perez Ramirez escribió una carta a su madre quien era una de las participantes en el camion. Lea la carta aquí 

Abajo es la respuesta de Marichu a su hija.

Hija,

Me siento orgullosa de ti al expresarte en la carta que me enviaste. Porque es cierto todo lo que expresas, luché y luché con mis tres hijos al llegar a este país hasta sacarlos adelante, sin papeles y sin miedo y con multitud de obstáculos que se me presentaban.

Pero con perseverancia, los vencí y formé unos hijos con princípios morales y me siento orgullosa de ti. El camino que has escogido es un camino digno y muy valioso al trabajar con la gente, orientandola y conscientizandola, que acepten la realidad en la que viven, que sin papeles o con papeles, valemos mucho.

Cuanta razón tenías a inclinarte e ir te a luchar por la gente, al salirte de aquel trabajo donde te sentias enjaulada. Ese trabajo no era para ti.  Hoy me doy cuenta al verte que sientes realizada luchando y luchando para que nuestra comunidad deje el miedo y salga de las sombras a luchar sin papeles y sin miedo.

Hija te admiro y te amo.

tu madre,

Maria Jesus Rodriguez

Why I'm Riding to Charlotte

In six weeks I will arrive in Charlotte accompanied by a full bus of other undocumented people, after visiting with immigrant communities who face discrimination, supporting their efforts to affirm their dignity and no longer be afraid.

Like many others, I’m tired of living in fear. I’ve lived here for 18 years but didn’t get involved until Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona’s SB1070 in 2010. At that point, I knew that something had to be done.

When I first came here in 1994, families could go to the store or the park without looking over their shoulders. Now the parks in our neighborhoods have police cars just monitoring us. Even at the church where I give food to the hungry, there are fewer people because of the intimidation they feel from nearby law enforcement who have been turned into immigration agents.

That sense of intimidation is spreading. A mother at the school my three children go to was told by a school employee they were going to have her deported. Everywhere we go now, we find harassment. It feels like everyone is looking and pointing at you just because you’re brown.

That environment is what drove me to get involved in my community. Now we’re teaching undocumented people that they have rights and we can come together to get our loved ones and neighbors out of immigration detention centers. In Arizona, we’ve learned that there’s no reason to be afraid when our community is united.

I know in my heart that something has to change and that undocumented people like myself are going to be the ones to do it. We just want to work and have a better life like anyone. Because of anti-immigrant state laws and federal programs, that isn’t an option right now.

We’re standing up to sheriffs like Arizona’s Joe Arpaio and getting on a bus for a “No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice” that was to leave Phoenix this past weekend and will end at the Democratic National Convention in September.

We’ll confront our fears and we’ll do peaceful civil disobedience at risk of being separated from our families to open our community’s eyes and to open the hearts of those who may not know what is happening to us.

We’ll come to Charlotte where we hope the president will be inspired by our example of courage. He has shown that he has the power to relieve our suffering. We’re doing what we must for our children to have better lives and for those of us who have lived in the shadows to finally be included fully in this country. We hope those who have the power to make that happen will do more to make it real.

Originally Published in the Charlotte Observer on July 30, 2012.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/07/30/3410856/why-im-riding-bus-full-of-undocumented.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

Gerardo: I'm a queer undocumented Mexican. We Exist. We're involved.

 

 

 

No papers no fear profile on Gerardo Torres, undocumented and queer.
//
Perfil de Gerardo Torres un trabajador de construcción y persona de la comunidad LGBTQ.

Despedida and a Drive to Denver

Yesterday, Sunday the 29th of July around 10:30 pm, the first delegation of the “No Papers no Fear Ride for Justice” took off from Phoenix Az to Denver Colorado, the rest of the group will be taking off next Wednesday to join us in Albuquerque New Mexico, amongst this group, some of the people arrested the past Tuesday 24th of july, outside of the courthouse where sheriff joe Arpaio was testifying in a trial against him for racial profiling against migrant communities.

The message of these 4 brave community members was “No Papers No Fear, Dignity is Fighting Here” same message that will be spread across the country with this ride for Justice.

"I don't have riches to give, I can only send my heart with you"Various community and family members of those whom will be part of the Ride For Justice, gathered at the Puente Office to say good bye and wish good luck to the riders that were taking off that night, it was inevitable to avoid emotions, tears, smiles and good vibes amongst the community

Marichu, one of the riders who took off on Sunday, shared a letter that her daughter had written for her, describing how she, as her daughter feels very proud that her mom will be part of this journey, Marichu, in front of the community, talked about the commitment with that she has with the people, even though today she has a legal status, she says that isn’t a reason to stop her from fighting for the rights and dignity of the community. “I know the kind of frustration and injustices that undocumented people have to go through for not having papers, I know this because I once was undocumented and my main goal in this trip is to go to de Democratic National Convention in September at North Carolina and at the same time to plant seeds of education, empowerment, justice, self-determination and justice within the communities during the 6 weeks that the trip will last” she said.

Maricruz, another rider, mother of two brave, undocumented young students whom were arrested for doing peaceful civil disobedience a few months ago, also said good bye to her family. She says she is proud of her children and for being part of this trip “The example of courage that my kids shown by saying “I am undocumented and unafraid” inspired me as a mother to raise my voice, I can’t take it no more, and I’m not doing this just for me and my family but also for all those who still remain in silent, in the shadows across the country” she said with enthusiasm before taking off.

stormclouds on 15 hours driveToday we are being hosted by members of local communities in Denver Colorado after being on the road for over 15 hrs, but the exhausting of the trip doesn’t take away the enthusiasm from these community members that are taking the lead in this movement

The next two days will be full of activities and actions with local organizations and communities, sharing our struggle and learning from theirs without forgetting to promote our message “ No Papers No Fear, Dignity is Here.”

Tania Unzueta and Sheriff Arpaio on NPR

No Papers, No Fear

With Wade Goodwyn in for Tom Ashbrook.

A group of undocumented workers sets out this week on a bus ride from Arizona to the Democratic Convention in North Carolina with the logo “No Papers, No Fear”.   We’ll hear what they have to say.In 1961 black and white students got on a bus together to ride through the South in a daring and courageous protest of Jim Crow. Yesterday in Phoenix, a new group of Freedom Riders, undocumented Latinos boarded a bus to advocate for immigration reform.

They’re protesting what they claim is harassment at the hands of Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Up next, On Point: Is this the Freedom Bus or the UndocuBus? The issue that could profoundly affect the election for president.

-Wade Goodwyn

Guests

Tania Unzueta, she is on the UndocuBus tour and is part of Chicago’s Immigrant Youth Justice League.

Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Whit Ayers, Republican pollster and strategist.

Dianne Solis, a senior writer for the Dallas Morning News.

From The Reading List

New York Times “The route they will take on their cross-country trek resembles a slithering snake — up, down and around in a series of intentional detours that are equal parts political strategy and provocation. Their bus leaves from this sprawling city in the desert at sunrise on Monday, carrying 30 men and women who say they have chosen to live in the shadows no more.”

Charlotte Observer “In six weeks I will arrive in Charlotte accompanied by a full bus of other undocumented people, after visiting with immigrant communities who face discrimination, supporting their efforts to affirm their dignity and no longer be afraid.”

UndocuBus: el autobús de los indocumentados "sin miedo"

Marcha de UndocuBusEn la ruta para protestar contra las leyes antiinmigración.

Viajan sin documentos… porque no los tienen. Al menos no ese papel que les daría permiso de estadía legal en Estados Unidos.

Son una treintena de indocumentados latinos que decidieron salir a la ruta para protestar contra las leyes antiinmigración y reclamar por la falta de acción del gobierno del presidente Barack Obama para conseguir la postergada reforma migratoria integral.

No se trata de un viaje cualquiera: a diferencia de los llamados Dreamers -el movimiento de estudiantes sin papeles que lleva adelante una militancia de alto perfil-, los adultos indocumentados se han movido hasta ahora "por fuera del radar", tratando de pasar desapercibidos frente a las autoridades estadounidenses para evitar el peligro siempre latente de la deportación."Sin papeles y sin miedo" es su eslogan, estampado en camisetas y pancartas que llevarán durante seis semanas a bordo del UndocuBus, como han bautizado a su vehículo.

"Ya no más, basta de seguir viviendo en las sombras. Nos paramos y decimos: 'no traemos papeles, aquí estamos'", señaló en conversación con BBC Mundo la mexicana Daniela Cruz, una de las pasajeras del UndocuBus, que vive desde hace una década en Phoenix, la capital de Arizona.

Desde esta ciudad partió el lunes un primer grupo de viajeros, al que se irán sumando otros a lo largo de la ruta. Tras recorrer diez estados del país, los migrantes planean terminar su trayecto en Carolina del Norte.

Allí tienen una cita autoimpuesta: el 3 de septiembre, Convención Nacional del partido Demócrata, en la que Obama será convalidado como candidato para las elecciones presidenciales de noviembre.

"Organizamos este viaje para presentar nuestro caso y alimentar el debate frente el presidente, ir allí donde esté para decirle que queremos ser escuchados", señaló Cruz.

El "efecto Arpaio"

LogoLa imagen del movimiento.

La movilización por carretera se ha inspirado en los freedom rides que hicieron los grupos de activistas contra la segregación racial de los años '60.

Ahora, los sin papeles tienen como foco de su protesta las leyes antiinmigración aprobadas en los últimos años por distintos estados. Surgido en Arizona, el movimiento del UndocuBus ha sufrido en carne propia los efectos de la SB1070, que desde 2010 hizo recrudecer los controles sobre quienes no tienen residencia autorizada.

Aunque la Suprema Corte declaró inconstitucionales varias provisiones de esta norma, convalidó en cambio la polémica sección 2b, que permite a la policía investigar el estatus migratorio de cualquier persona detenida en Arizona.

"En los once años que llevo en Phoenix, he visto cambiar la situación y he sentido miedo de salir a la calle", le relató a BBC Mundo María Cruz Ramírez, una mexicana de 46 años que viaja en el UndocuBus.

El temor de los migrantes se sustenta, en parte, en las prácticas del sheriff Joe Arpaio, quien se jacta de ser "el más duro de Estados Unidos" y ha hecho de la lucha contra la inmigración indocumentada una bandera de su gestión en el condado de Maricopa, del que Phoenix es parte.

Desde la semana pasada, el alguacil comparece ante a un tribunal por una causa civil en la que se lo acusa de discriminación racial sistemática. Y fue precisamente mientras Arpaio testificaba que el movimiento de los adultos sin papeles salió a la luz pública.

Cuatro de ellos cortaron el tránsito mientras declaraban abiertamente su condición de indocumentados. En un comunicado, dijeron "saber de primera mano lo que se siente vivir bajo en el terror de Arpaio" y anunciaron que "la mejor manera de luchar es saliendo de las sombras".

El sheriff, por su parte, declaró que la marcha del UndocuBus no tendrá efecto en su gestión.

Cartel UndocuBus

Imagen dibujada de María Jesús Rodríguez, quien viaja en el UndocuBus.

"Están perdiendo su tiempo (…) porque yo igual voy a hacer cumplir las leyes. No van a hacer que me rinda por tomar un bus", señaló a la prensa local.

Varias paradas

En tanto, los pasajeros planean bajar del bus para hacer visible su protesta en cada escala.

Según le detalló a BBC Mundo B. Loewe, portavoz de la Red Nacional de Jornaleros (NDLON, en inglés) y uno de los organizadores del recorrido, la intención es recalar en estados simbólicos como Alabama y Georgia, donde rigen leyes similares a la de Arizona.

Para subvencionar el viaje, los activistas han recolectado fondos entre la comunidad, destinados a pagar por comida y combustible pero también por cualquier fianza que les toque en caso de ser arrestados.

"El miedo que nos da ser detenidos, sabiendo que una detención puede ser camino a la deportación, lo estamos convirtiendo en fuerza. Yo personalmente me subí al camión porque tengo un hijo sin documentos y a diario vivo esa pesadilla de que podrían arrestarlo y deportarlo", le señaló a BBC Mundo María Jesús Rodríguez, madre de un joven de 27 años.

Votos en juego

Los latinos acusan al Congreso y a los republicanos de frenar la reforma migratoria. Pero también señalan las culpas de Obama, quien durante su campaña de 2007 aseguró que la sacaría adelante durante su primer año de gobierno.

Daniel Cruz, a la derechaDaniela Cruz (a la derecha), una de las pasajeras del UndocuBus.

Varias encuestas recientes le adjudican al demócrata una ventaja notoria sobre su rival, Mitt Romney, en la preferencia de los hispanos: 70% dice que en noviembre votará por Obama, mientras 22% se inclinará por el republicano.

Pero los sondeos generales los ponen en una batalla cerrada, con 46% de la intención de voto para el actual mandatario y 47% para su contrincante, según el último sondeo de CBS/New York Times.

En este contexto, el voto latino se ha convertido en una variable fundamental para que Obama logre su relección. Y los analistas coinciden en que la reforma pendiente y las cifras récord de deportaciones -más de un millón y medio durante su administración- generan frustración en la comunidad.

"Su puesto depende solamente de él, ni de la oposición ni de nadie. Eso es lo que le queremos hacerle saber con este viaje", dicen en el UndocuBus.

Originalmente publicada a http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2012/07/120731_indocumentados_marcha_undocubus_vp.shtml

Coming Out at Colorado's Capitol

Tuesday July 31st of 2012 was our first day of activities in Denver Colorado, starting off early in the morning with a warm breakfast lovely made by some of the local members of the Unitarian Universalist Church, followed by a quick workshop presented by local community organizers, who explained the severity of a local anti-migrant law called SB 90, that has been around  for about 6 years, this law works in the same fashion than section 2B of Arizona’s law SB 1070 which was approved by the supreme court.

After that but before going to a rally/press conference at the state capitol, we broke into smaller groups to talk about how we could connect the struggle from Arizona with Colorado’s, also about the purpose of this Ride For Justice

Then we worked on some sign painting with some community organizers and members of El Centro Humanitario which is a day laborers center.

Once the signs were ready we headed to the state capitol, where some people shared their stories with us and the press, we heard heartbreaking testimonies, one of them was Esmeralda’s who had to seen her husbandbeing racially profiled for a Police man, then arrested and put in a Migrant detention center “When my husband got arrested, me and my family went through the worst experience of our lives, my son got so depressed that he tried to commit suicide twice, that’s why I stand and rise my voice, for all of those that somehow have to go through the same oppressive system” she said.

After that, some of the riders gave their testimonies, sharing empowering stories of how we came out of the shadows and lost their fear to rise their voices and to take action on our own to fight for justice and our dignity.

When the rally was ended, we came back to El Centro Humanitario to have lunch, which was prepared for agroup of ladies called El Centro’s Women’s Project, there were community members, jornaleros and organizers, before eating they offered a pray for the food that we were about to eat and for the riders, all the riders formed a small circle holding hands while the pray was said, people gathered around us and put their hands on our shoulders, passing us all their good vibes and positive energies, I can honestly say that was one of the most empowering things that I’ve gotten to be part of, after that we all shared food, smiles and more stories.

After lunch we had some time to keep working on future actions and our goals, around 6:00 pm we had dinner while the movie “A Better Life’’ was being screened, when it was over, we came back to the place where we are staying to have some rest because a day full of more activities awaits for us, because we all know this journey just started.

See photos for the event on facebook

Photos: Rally at the Colorado Capitol

 


 


 



This was a press conference where various community members and local organizations shared their stories and sent a call out to the migrant community across the nation. Photos should be accredited to Fernando Lopez, No Papers No Fear photographer.

Fotos: Intercambio en Denver

 

 

 

On the second and last day in Denver Co, the first delegation of the Journey for Justice met with community members and local organizers at El Centro Humanitario in Denver Co, to share stories and talk about strategies for future organizing and action, the topics in this workshop where (Women and Families), (LGBT Rights), (Labor), (Students and Youth) and (Barrio Defense Committee in Depth)

Sin Miedo en Denver - Univision

Response to NYT Room for Debate

On August 1st, the New York Times published a debate "Is getting on the 'Undocubus' a good idea? Should illegal immigrants to the United States be encouraged to come out about their status?"

Below is our response: 

No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice BusAs undocumented immigrants we face risks every day. We wake up every morning wondering whether our loved ones will return home. While many of us pay taxes, we don’t have access to work, education or healthcare. We have few effective avenues to participate in the democratic process and the creation of the laws that frame our lives.

Despite some administrative relief for a small group of undocumented youth, there is no question: immigrant communities are living through a crisis. Yet, wherever there is injustice there is also resistance and survival.

People around the country are beginning to lose fear and talk about their experiences publicly.

Every time one of us does this, we bring to the light what is happening in the shadows. We’re happy to see our journey already causing discussion. But for us, the question to ask is not whether undocumented immigrants face risks when we come out, the question we asked ourselves before getting on the bus was whether we can afford to stay in the shadows.

For those of us on the tour, the answer is “No.” We are tired of mistreatment and can no longer wait for change. By putting our lives on the line, we join a long history of courageous people in the United States who have fought for human rights and dignity of our communities, often defying unjust laws to do so. The question we hope gets asked is what can each of us do, what risk could each of us take to join that same legacy that moves history forward.

Farewells and Full Moons

In the magic hour, under the light of a full moon it was a long good bye in Phoenix Arizona for a group setting off to defy unjust laws in order to dignify them.

The scene was frenetic.  A group hunched over a generator, trying out the 5th theory of how to kick start some a/c.  The flowing finishing touches of clear coat paint, a labor of love created by many different people.  Bags being packed, like a crowded freeway when everyone’s trying to get home.

A lot of anticipation, stress, questioning and excitement.  For the last few months I’ve been neck deep and in a serious doggy paddle planning for the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.  It has been a stretch for me in a many ways.  I have questioned its possibility and purpose from every angle.  Ran through a million scenarios.  Stressed about some potential ones.  It has been a heavy lift, with risk for many different people.

The bus took off, Priscilla, my beloved low rider bus.  And once the breeze kicked in it didn’t sting so much that there was no AC.  After people both cheering the bus and its riders on, there was an element of sadness.  Once we turned off into the main street, turned onto the I-10 everyone become silent, turning into themselves perhaps already feeling the distance of their families and daily lives.

The solemn mood was shook when all of a sudden, we pull over and the announcement comes from the front, ‘Bus is overheating!’  Not even out 40 minutes from Phoenix and everyone shoots up and spills out onto the highway.  Out of the city, it was all stars and moon front and center.  It wasn’t long before someone bellowed out, “This is like the movie ‘The Hills Have Eyes!”  We waited there, sitting alongside the road, braving the big trucks passing by at what felt like breakneck speed.  We took turns cracking jokes and talking shit, claming each other jokingly for Priscilla’s malaise.  Maybe an hour passed, and I began to worry about how this was all going to shake out.  I realized that this was going to be a very long night, and that our first stretch of plans would be a victim to reality.  I’m deep in thought, pondering how people will handle this curveball, how will we fix it?  In the distance I hear Selena…’Carcacha..poco a poquito..no me vayas a dejaaaaar,’ and hearty laughter coming from inside the bus.  I laughed out loud.  What else could any of us do?

After all of the planning, checking, looping back around..when the rubber hits the road, there’s no telling what will happen.  So far, spirits are high..and I am more aware than ever that its the places we’ll go, but the journey will also be those moments, when things are not as planned and when no one is watching.  When each of us is faced with a dilemma, with the opportunity to demonstrate character, learn and teach.  So far, so good.

P.S. Priscilla eventually cooled down and made it over the mountains.  Up next ABQ

In Depth in Denver

Wednesday August 1st of 2012 was our second and last day of activities in Denver Colorado, starting off with a delicious breakfast provided by local members of the Unitarian Universalists church, then we headed to El Centro Humanitario were we met with community members and  local organizers to have a workshop where we shared our stories in depth, also talked about strategies and future actions to be taken.

Once we all were done sharing our stories and answering questions from the community, we broke into smaller groups to talk about specific topics like “Women and Families”, ‘’LGBT Rights’’, “Labor”, ‘’Students and Youth’’ and “Barrio Defense Committees in Depth” where each one of us participated and talked about the Arizona’s legislation targeting the migrant communities and the resistance of those that have been affected by laws like 287G and ‘’Secure Communities’’

sin salud no hay accionMaricruz participated with the group of Women and Families, Gerardo with LGBT Rights, Jose with Labor, Daniela with Students and Youth and Marichu and I with Barrio Defense Committees in Depth.

People in Colorado were really interested in our testimonies and also the way how the people from Arizona have been resisting the attacks and how we have worked through the past few years organizing and empowering ourselves, becoming more active, fearless and self-determinated.

We also learned a lot about the Lucha in Colorado, their Day Laborers Centers, the LGBT struggle and how they are also promoting and grassroots organizing of the Barrio Defense Committees.

Once we finished talking about this topics lunch came, once again provided by the UUs, we all gathered together to offer a prayer for the food that we were about to eat, and once we were done eating we had some ‘’spare time’’ which we used to keep working on press releases, logistics, videos and pictures, then we headed to the pace of one of the local organizers who offered his home to us to go take a shower and get some rest.

Then, like around 6:00 pm we had dinner at a park, once again provided by community members who showed us infinite love and support, once the sun went down we came back to the house to get ready for our departure to Albuquerque.

In behalf of this delegation of riders for Justice we would like to thank the People from Colorado, for sharing their struggle with us, for showing us what kind of generous people they are, thanks for sharing their homes, their food and their amazing good vibes with us, all of you and your powerful testimonies now are carried in our hearts, even though they are heartbreaking is the first step to come out of the shadows and expose the abuses that migrant communities are victims of. With no doubt we leave Colorado more empowered and determined to continue this journey for justice.

The second group of riders have left Phoenix already and we will be joining them and Priscilla the bus in New Mexico.

Riders getting ready

This is just the beginning of this journey, there is a long way to go still, but I truly believe that with every stop, in each city, every action, protest, rally and each testimony heard we are getting stronger and more unified to keep fighting for our Dignity because that’s why we ride. 

Boulder sheriff, immigration activists agree: Repeal SB 90

A group of immigration activists who protested at the state Capitol this week and Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle have something in common.

rally at capitolThey both want Colorado’s version of Arizona’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants overturned.

SB 90, passed by the state legislature in 2006, requires police officers to report suspected undocumented foreigners who are arrested on a criminal offense to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The law has elicited protest from the immigrants’ rights community, which claims that it forces officers to resort to racial profiling when making the determination of whether to report someone to ICE. The Colorado law wasn’t quite as expansive as the 2010 Arizona version, SB 1070, which authorized officers to not only check “papers” and judge someone’s citizenship status upon arrest, but during “lawful stops” and “detentions.”

Still, a delegation calling itself “Americans-in-Waiting” stopped at the state Capitol in Denver on July 31 to protest Colorado’s SB 90. It was the second stop on a national tour called “No Papers, No Fear Ride for Justice.” At the group’s first stop — in Phoenix to protest against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s alleged racial profiling — four protesters were arrested July 24 during what they described as a peaceful disobedience action outside the sheriff ’s trial.

While it may be for different reasons than the immigration activists, Boulder County’s own sheriff agrees that Colorado’s version of the law is unnecessary. Pelle told Boulder Weekly that, given the statewide implementation of the Secure Communities program in May, SB 90 is redundant because Secure Communities requires the fingerprints of every arrested person to be submitted to ICE for a citizenship check. It removes the guesswork for law enforcement, because all are treated equally, Pelle says.

If all arrestees’ fingerprints are now submitted to ICE under Secure Communities, he explains, there is no longer any need for officers to attempt to determine citizenship according to SB 90.

“It’s so we’re not making decisions based on people’s skin color or language or English skills,” Pelle says. “The other thing I like about [Secure Communities] is —maybe they’re from Canada or Burma or Australia — it treats everyone the same.”

It’s now superfluous to have the subjective, judgment-based process for law enforcement required under SB 90, he says.

“Now that Secure Communities is here, I would like to see the reporting requirement lifted from county jails, because Secure Communities automatically takes care of the reporting, and does it in an unbiased, totally fair way. … The efforts are being duplicated. My hope is that if Secure Communities remains in effect, maybe we could get rid of Senate Bill 90.”

Pelle has also said that Secure Communities could head off any effort to bring an Arizona-like law to Colorado, a move that he and the head of a statewide sheriffs’ association have said they oppose because it asks deputies to serve as immigration officers, which is beyond their purview.

Secure Communities had been used as a pilot program in a few Colorado counties since former Gov. Bill Ritter announced in 2011 that Colorado would become one of the 35 states using the program nationally. (The Boulder County commissioners objected to the move.)

The program has been controversial, in part because of concerns that it could have a chilling effect on undocumented immigrants’ willingness to report crimes, especially victims of domestic violence, who are often arrested when there are no witnesses or when both parties have injuries and it is unclear who was the perpetrator.

To its credit on that front, Colorado’s SB 90 had an exception for domestic violence cases: Suspected undocumented immigrants arrested on charges of domestic violence were not reported to ICE until conviction.

But the law did not require counties to provide that exception, and Boulder County doesn’t delay reporting to ICE in domestic violence cases, Pelle says, in part because about 90 percent of all such offenders are no longer in custody at the time of their conviction, in most cases because they are out on bond. He has said that law enforcement agencies would have to set up a separate tracking system just for suspects to have their fingerprints sent to ICE at the time of conviction rather than the time of arrest.

Pelle says the statewide implementation of Secure Communities was painless for Boulder County because the sheriff ’s office already sends fingerprints of all those arrested to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and it’s CBI that’s sending the prints to ICE.

“It doesn’t impact us at all,” he says.

“There’s nothing on our end we do or see differently. … There’s no opting in or out, there’s no equipment, there’s no extra work, nothing. It’s unseen and unknown to us that this is occurring. It doesn’t make any difference in booking time or anything else.”

Pelle adds that under Secure Communities, he hasn’t yet seen any spike in the number of “detainers” that ICE is placing on suspected undocumented immigrants who are arrested.

(In the case of a “detainer,” as a courtesy to ICE, the sheriff ’s office will keep a suspect in jail up to 48 additional hours past the point they are due to be released, giving an ICE agent the opportunity to interview those suspected of being in the country illegally.) Deputies only report about 10 percent of arrestees to ICE as required under SB 90, and of those, only 100 to 200 are placed on a detainer by ICE, Pelle says.

He adds that the practice of reporting those suspected of being undocumented immigrants to ICE was not new to Boulder County when SB 90 passed in 2006; it has been a practice the sheriff ’s office began more than two decades ago, under former Sheriff George Epp.

Tired of Living in the Shadows, Undocumented Immigrants Take to the Road

Tired of Living in the Shadows, Undocumented Immigrants Take to the Road

Photos courtesy of No Papers, No Fear.

Tired of government inaction and what they call “political football” in immigration reform, a busload of undocumented immigrants are risking arrest and deportation to push for change.

About 30 undocumented immigrants and their supporters boarded what they've dubbed the "Undocubus" Wednesday and rolled out of Phoenix, widely regarded as a battleground for immigrant rights. The Undocubus will pull into the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in September.

Protesters are prepared to be arrested and/or deported as they cross the southern states on their way to deliver a message to President Obama. Spokesperson Tania Unzueta says attorneys volunteered to brief each rider on the risks involved in traveling on the bus. Each person’s assessment included previous criminal history, relationships with U.S. citizens and whether they were eligible for deferred action, among other factors. One of the riders, Gerardo Torres, says if anyone needs an attorney at any point in the trip, they will be represented.

Before they'd even boarded the bus a handful of them were arrested. In Phoenix some of the riders participated in a demonstration outside Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's trial. Before the trial, the group released a statement saying, “…We are no longer afraid. Today, we confront publicly what we risk every day, being arrested by the police, and separated from our families, only because we are undocumented. We’re confronting fear itself. We are undocumented and unafraid. We hope to inspire others in our own community to lose their fear, to come out of the shadows, and to organize.”

a_undocubus_arpaio2

Outside the trial, one of the protesters, Leticia Ramirez, said she was tired of the way her community is treated by the government in Arizona. Addressing Arpaio, she said, “I’m here to tell Arpaio that he’s been chasing our community, he’s been chasing our people and I’m here to tell him that I’m making his job easy – that I’m here, I’m not going to stand for what he’s doing to my community and come and get me!”

Ramirez, 27, was arrested along with three others and later released after spending the night in jail. One of the protesters was transferred to ICE and released two days after the protest. They are four of about 30 people riding the Undocubus, though Unzueta says others will jump on and off the bus at different stops as they make their way to see Obama in Charlotte.

The motto of the movement is “No papers, no fear,” a message painted on the side of the bus, printed on t-shirts, scribbled on signs and chanted during protests. The group posts updates on the ride and encourages participation on its website,nopapersnofear.org.

a_undocubus_arpaio

The website features a blog, and members constantly update the group's Facebook page with photos and videos. A video from the trial demonstration shows the protesters being handcuffed and escorted by police while holding their heads high and continuing to chant with the crowd.

Social media has played a key role in spreading the word about the Undocubus. The group launched its Facebook and Twitter accounts July 19, and by August 1st had 3,615 likes on Facebook and 524 followers on Twitter. Though the movement was born out of frustration and the desire for immigrant solidarity in Arizona, it has quickly grown and gained national support.

Gerardo Torres, a carpenter and handyman who has lived in Phoenix for more than 18 years, is part of the first group who departed Arizona Sunday.

“I decided to participate because I was tired of politicians in Arizona speaking for me and chasing the undocumented community in the state,” Torres says. “I have the power to speak for myself; I don’t need any politician or anyone else speaking for me. It’s time for me to express my opinions – I’m a member of the gay community and I want everyone to know that my community is also affected by these laws and the discrimination happening in Arizona.”

Torres also says one of the main goals of the tour is to educate and inform undocumented immigrants across the country of their rights.

“We want to show our community that they have resources to defend their rights; they can educate and defend themselves in case of arrest or harassment by local police. We are talking with members of the community in all the cities we’re stopping in, sharing our knowledge and our experience about what we’ve done to defend our community in Arizona.”

Though the route has not been made public, the Undocubus is set to go through New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee before stopping in North Carolina. The first stop was in Denver on Tuesday and the second stop will be in Austin on Friday, where they will demonstrate outside the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at noon.

In 2010, advocacy groups found that Travis County led the nation in the deportation of noncriminal immigrants because of its use of Secure Communities. Austin-based immigrant rights groups will join riders in demanding the Sheriff and Chief of Police reject the controversial deportation program.

Originally published at http://www.texasobserver.org/thewholestar/item/18618-undocubus-embarks-on-voyage-across-country

UndocuBus Comes to Austin: No Papers, No Fear – Ride for Justice

“This summer, we are coming out of the shadows and getting on the bus. Our rights and our families are under attack and we’ve come too far to go back now.”

On July 29, 2012, a special kind of bus tour across the American Southwest departed from Phoenix, Arizona. The passengers aren’t going to be relaxing in luxury resort spas or sightseeing majestic landmarks in the desert. There are no rock stars on board, at least, not in the way we’re used to thinking.

The people riding on this bus have embarked on a precarious mission to show Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, along with the United States federal government, that they will no longer live in the shadows. They want to let them know that they are no longer afraid, and that they have begun organizing to take a public stand for the rights of undocumented people in the U.S.

Four days earlier, on July 25, a group of protestors gathered outside the U.S. District Court, where Sheriff Arpaio was testifying in a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund on behalf of all Arizona residents (documented and undocumented alike) who have been victims of racial profiling. Arpaio’s own words were used against him during the trial, and he spent six hours responding to racist comments he made in media interviews.

The protestors that Tuesday included four undocumented individuals – Miguel Guerra, Natally Cruz, Leticia Ramirez, and Isela Meraz – who were arrested outside the courthouse for blocking an intersection and had immigration holds placed on them in jail. Everyone but Guerra has been released.

Leticia Ramirez came to the United States with her parents when she was nine years old, and she has been living on this side of the border for eighteen years. Her children were born in Arizona. She does what she can to help others, including volunteering at a neighborhood food program where children get the breakfast and lunch they need every day.

“Life in Arizona has gotten complicated since they passed their anti-immigrant laws,” says Ramirez, who worries daily about her husband while he’s at work. “Now we can’t go out of the house or enjoy time with our children. We’re afraid to leave because of the police who harass us. Because they want to arrest us.”

Miguel Guerra, who has been here for fourteen years and has a wife and three children, works in construction and has been a volunteer with the Puente Human Rights Movement since shortly after the passage of SB1070.

Guerra says, “We want President Obama to see that we are no longer afraid and that that we are demanding that he take action to solve our community’s problems.”

Natally Cruz, who has been in the United States for sixteen years, also volunteers for Puente; she has a seven-year-old son. Isela Meraz came here with her parents at the age of eight and has lived in Phoenix for twenty-one years. She has participated in hunger strikes and has organized art shows for 3rd Space’s Queer Cultura.

These four protestors, along with many other undocumented residents, have made their lives in the United States. For them it’s not a viable option to return to Mexico. They’ve planted solid roots in Phoenix, where they work hard and contribute to the community in any way they can.

Ramirez, Cruz, and Meraz, who were released the day after they were arrested, have been riding on the UndocuBus, along with Carlos Garcia, an organizer with the “Arrest Arpaio Not the People” campaign and with Puente Arizona. So far, they have been through New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.

UndocuBus will be in Austin on Friday, August 3, at noon at the Travis County Sherriff’s office. The gathering includes the support of Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition, the University Leadership Initiative, Grassroots Leadership, Proyecto Defensa Laboral and other immigrant advocates in Austin. Undocumented riders will come out publicly, support local people to build barrio defense, and perform peaceful civil disobedience.

After leaving Austin, they will continue through Texas to Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The tour will end in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention (September 3-6, 2012), where the party that promises reform but has so far produced record deportations, will decide whether to include or exclude the undocumented leaders who have put themselves at great legal risk.

Would you put yourself at risk by riding on UndocuBus if you were undocumented? Do you think these protestors are doing the right thing?

Originally Published at http://latinometro.com/undocubus-austin-papers-fear-ride-justice/

Indigenous Roots in Albuquerque

Today the No Papers No Fear caravan arrived to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a state where  indigenous communities are prevalent, just as in my state of Arizona. As migrants, we believed that it is important to create a connection between our experience, and the experience of other indigenous people in the United States. We had the chance to talk to 2 young people living in the Santa Clara and Santo Domingo pueblos, and share our experience as migrants, as they shared theirs with ours.

I learned from them about the history of their Pueblos, the experience of displacement as a result of colonization, but most of the time we spoke about their interaction and perspective of migrant communities. They began by asking what it felt like to bring this social movement to New Mexico, and share it with indigenous communities, and how we felt as migrants living in this continent we are connected. In my responses, I tried to talk about the root of indigenous struggles across the continent. I spoke to them about my own background too, coming from an indigenous community in Mexico myself. My father is from Oaxaca, whom I know little about, and my mother is Nahua descendant, a tribe from the center of Mexico.

We, as indigenous peoples share our skin color, culture, music, traditions. Unfortunately, we are so disconnected from each other, that we forget that we are connected. We forget that many of the migrants who travel to the United States have indigenous backgrounds. I think they began to see the connection between our struggles.

I also asked them what their perspective was on the migrant community. They told me that people from their Pueblos were often bothered by the observation that migrants are often hired instead of indigenous people living in the United States. I was able to share with them my experience, that undocumented migrants are often hired because they are vulnerable to abuse. In reality, it is a form of exploitation for migrants, who get paid less, cannot claim benefits, and under the laws of this country, they have less rights.

I saw their perspective begin to change, and their minds open about migrant communities. I think they began to understand that both communities are being exploited by employers, the laws of the United States,  and the abuse of workers under capitalism. We were able to see that we are not in competition with each other, but victims of the same oppressive systems.

As I write this blog, my friend is calling me a radical. But the reality is that it was a radical conversation, and it was the truth, our personal experiences.

In my personal perspective, I believe we planted a seed of consciousness  in the hearts and minds of this young people who after this sharing experience got so inspired that they just hung out with us for the rest of the day trying to learn and understand more about this movement that grassroots community organizers, and they just spend the rest of the day doing interviews to some of the riders.

We would like to thank our host  Osiris who showed us an amazing love and support, opening his home for us and sharing amazing food. He runs a local non profit organization that focuses on teaching Native American youth the steps to become filmmakers, also does a lot of work trying to get the youth out of gangs through community service, education and consciousness.

Then, when the sun went down we prepared for our departure, gathering all together to jump onto Priscilla headed to Austin Texas, the ride will be long to get there, but we leave New Mexico with a strong learning experience and with the opportunity of bringing awareness to the indigenous communities  and a better understanding of our struggles that regardless of what side of the border we were born we still connected by our struggles, traditions, languages and our beautiful indigenous roots.

Chela: It's time

 

 

 

Watch this profile on No Papers No Fear Rider, Isela Meraz, for the who and why people are getting on the bus.
//
Un perfil de Isela Meraz que explica porque y quien está subiendo a la jornada por justicia sin papeles y sin miedo.

Photos: Visiting the Sheriff in Austin

 

 

 

Sin miedo a la 'migra' - HOY

El autobús va pintado de verde, el color de la esperanza, y lleva imágenes de mariposas monarca, en símbolo de la inmigración.

José Mangandi nunca se ha sentido cómodo hablando sobre su estatus migratorio de indocumentado.

Pero ahora lo hace abiertamente como parte de la travesía de un autobús que partió de Phoenix hacia Carolina del Norte para estar presente en la Convención Demócrata en septiembre.

El viaje del camión, bautizado como “undocubus” por transportar a unos 30 activistas e inmigrantes indocumentados, recorrerá varios estados de la nación bajo el lema de “Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo, Jornada por Justicia”. Pintado de verde (el color de la esperanza) y con imágenes de mariposas monarcas (para simbolizar la inmigración), el vehículo recorrerá los estados de Arizona, Nuevo México, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama y Georgia, hasta llegar a Carolina del Norte. La caravana tiene como propósito mostrar la cara de los indocumentados en la nación y recordarle al presidente Obama que no sólo hay “dreamers” necesitados de una reforma migratoria, sino también millones de personas que están en la misma incertidumbre.

“Hay jovencitos que salieron de las sombras. Los viejos también tenemos que dar la pelea”, dijo Mangandi, un salvadoreño de 50 años, residente de Los Ángeles, que ha vivido en Estados Unidos desde 1995. “Nosotros estamos trabajando y tenemos un futuro incierto”.

Mangandi, quien labora con el Teatro Jornalero Sin Frontera y dando educación de salud a otros inmigrantes, dijo que le fue difícil unirse a la caravana.

“Fue un momento de reflexión espiritual”, dijo el inmigrante, quien agregó que dar la cara como indocumentado le ha quitado “una gran carga emocional”.

Su familia también teme que el autobús sea detenido en un punto de chequeo y Mangandi y otros en similar situación migratoria sean referidos a Inmigración.

“Mi familia lo vio como un acto de suicidio”, dijo Mangandi, quien añadió que “el temor individual lo hemos superado con la fortaleza colectiva”.

EN BUSCA DE UN VIENTO A FAVOR

Agregó que el temor a ser deportados vale la pena si con esta acción se le recuerda al Presidente la promesa que hizo de trabajar en pos de una reforma migratoria.

“Esto no es una provocación, es un desafío al anonimato para dar la cara en representación de 12 millones de gentes que pueden tener ese beneficio”, indicó.

“Esto es una crítica, aunque a la vez entendemos lo que le toca negociar diariamente”, dijo Mangandi sobre la falta de acción de Obama en pos de la reforma migratoria durante su gobierno. “¿Cómo es posible que ayudó a salvar los bancos, pero no se le ayuda a 12 millones de personas que estamos de forma irregular en este país y que somos una fuerza adquisitiva, una comunidad con gran valor?”.

El recorrido de seis semanas iniciado en Arizona culmina en Carolina del Norte, donde entre el 3 y 6 de septiembre se llevará a cabo la Convención Nacional Demócrata. Ahí se espera que el grupo realice actividades exigiendo una reforma migratoria.

Carlos García, del grupo pro-inmigrante Puente en Arizona, que organizó la travesía, dijo que parte del mensaje de la caravana es pedir un alto a las deportaciones y sacar a la gente de las sombras para mostrar la cara de los indocumentados y exigir una reforma migratoria.

“Estas son personas que no tienen papeles y no tienen miedo; son jornaleros, trabajadores de todo tipo, gente que vive con el temor de de que los vayan a detener todos los días, pero que han salido en un acto de desobediencia civil”, expresó García.

El "UndocuBus" hace parada en Texas

Los más de 30 jóvenes indocumentados que viajan de Arizona a Carolina del Norte a bordo de "UndocuBus", para hacer acto de presencia en la Convención Nacional del Partido Demócrata y reclamar acciones del gobierno, ya se encuentran en Texas.

El "UndocuBus", formado por las palabras undocumentad + bus, salió de Phoenix, Arizona, elegido por ellos por ser representativo de la lucha inmigrante, se detendrá en los estados de Colorado, Nuevo México, Texas, Mississipi, Alabama y Georgia, y finalizar su ruta el próximo 3 de septiembre en Carolina del Norte.

Después de una semana en Phoenix, con actos de desobediencia civil, una marcha a las oficinas del Servicio de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE), así como eventos artísticos y pláticas con la comunidad, los viajeros siguieron su camino, tras visitar Colorado y Nuevo México.

"Hemos tenido una buena respuesta de la gente en los lugares a los que llegamos, y nuestro objetivo central en la convención es que el presidente (Barack) Obama asuma una postura acerca de la reforma migratoria antes de solicitar el voto de los hispanos", expresó vía telefónica Tania Unzueta, líder juvenil de los soñadores de Chicago. Sigue la ruta del "UndocuBus" aquí

Dijo que aún cuando la medida Acción Diferida, que en breve entrará en vigor en beneficio de jóvenes indocumentados (dreamers), traerá beneficios a muchas familias, "no es una solución, necesitamos una reforma migratoria y eso es lo que vamos a reclamar a la convención".

Buscarán ingresar como delegados honorarios en la Convención Demócrata, que inicia el 3 de septiembre, pero de no lograrlo recurrirán a formas alternativas para ser escuchados durante su desarrollo, para conseguir la postergada reforma migratoria integral.

En las visitas que realizan, los "dreamers" muestran videos con testimonios de latinos en busca de una vida mejor.

"Queremos enseñarle a la comunidad inmigrante que no debe tener miedo, pero también en nuestro trayecto les hablaremos de cómo pueden organizarse", dijo Julio Sánchez, joven de 24 años, residente de Chicago.

Publicado en Rumbo: http://www.rumbotx.com/El__Undocubus_hace_parada_en_Texas

De Arizona a Denver: la primera parada

En Denver conocimos al Centro Humanitario, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, AFSC, Trabajos con Justicia, y otros para aprender el efecto de SB90 y compartir lo que ha pasado en Arizona y otros estados desde la perspectiva de jornalero/as, trabajadoras de casa, y otros de la comunidad indocumentada.
//
in Denver we met with Centro Humanitario, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, AFSC, and Jobs with Justice to learn the impact of SB90 and to share what's happened in Arizona and other states from the perspective of day laborers, domestic workers, and other members of the undocumented community.

YO NO TENGO MIEDO

SIN PAPELES Y SIN MIEDO
YO LE ESCRIBO A MI NACION
PARA QUE LA GENTE MIRE
CUAL ES MI AFLICCION.
NO LE TEMO A LA MIGRA
MUCHO MENOS AL GOBIERNO
PORQUE SE CON RESPETO
LES DEMUESTRO LO QUE SIENTO.
LLEGE AQUI DESDE CHIQUITA
Y NO CONOSCO OTRO PAIS
ESTUDIE PA' SUPERARME
Y ALGUN DIA SER FELIZ.
TRABAJANDO LLEGE LEJOS
DEMOSTRANDO QUIEN YO SOY
PERO ALGUNAS LEYES TONTAS
ME DETIENEN A 'ONDE VOY.
SE APROVECHAN QUE SOY NOBLE
Y QUE TENGO UNA ILUCION,
ME DETIENEN Y ME ENCIERRAN
Y ME DAN DEPORTACION.
PERO A MI YA NO ME IMPORTA
LO QUE DIGAN, LO QUE PIENSEN,
Y SI CREEN QUE ME DETIENEN
POR EL ODIO QUE ELLOS SIENTEN.
LES ESCRIBO Y LES DIGO
QUE YO TENGO EL VALOR
SIN PAPELES Y SIN MIEDO
LES DEMUESTRO MI COLOR.
UN COLOR QUE SAVE AMAR
PERDONAR Y OLVIDAR
PORQUE NUESTRA GRAN CULTURA
NOS ENSEÑA A LUCHAR.
LUCHAR POR LA JUSTICIA
Y EL DERECHO A UNA CASA
PUES DESDE CUANDO ES DELITO
JUZGAR GENTE POR SU RAZA?
NO ME QUEDARE CALLADA
SI ME JUZGAN YO ME ACUSO
ME ACUSO DE SER POBRE
Y CANSADA DE ESTE ABUSO!
SI LA CONSTITUCION PROTEJE
PORQUE HACEN QUE ME ALEJE?
EN VEZ DE ESCUCHARME
ME OBLIGAN A QUE ME QUEJE.
Y YA PA' TERMINAR
LES DEDICO ESTE POEMA
A LOS RYDERS Y A LA GENTE
QUE DEMUESTRA SER VALIENTE.

Travis County sheriff's immigration checks protested

More than 50 people protested outside the Travis County sheriff's office on Friday, calling on Sheriff Greg Hamilton to stop participating in a program that detains and deports illegal immigrants.

The protesters were aligned with a group of Austin-bound undocumented immigrants who are riding across parts of the nation in a bus to protest deportations.

"Sheriff Hamilton claims he has no choice, but the immigration holds are voluntary," said Sarahi Uribe with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Uribe criticized a program called Secure Communities, which helps the federal government identify potential deportation targets by comparing fingerprints of people who have been booked on various charges against immigration databases. Uribe said participation in the program by local law enforcement officials is voluntary, citing information released after civil rights groups sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Hamilton has said previously that participation is mandatory. Since Secure Communities was begun in Travis County in June 2009, more than 500 people have been deported. The county ranked third in May with a 41 percent deportation rate among 56 U.S. counties with at least 500 deportations through Secure Communities, according to an American-Statesman analysis.

Travis County sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade had no comment about the protest.

Originally published at http://www.statesman.com/news/texas/travis-county-sheriffs-immigration-checks-protested-2427641.html

In Jail in Drag

Thinking about the stories that I heard in detention always make me cry, which is why I try not to talk about it, or think about it. I remember the pain, the isolation, the separation from my family. I remember the stories of the people. But I decided to tell my story because I’ve been seeing how everyone on the No Papers No fear ride has shown courage to run risks. Today I shared my story with a group of community members from Austin, Texas, and I would like to tell it to you here as well.

Why I Ride PosterOn November 18, 2011 I was driving home after an HIV benefit in New Mexico, when I was pulled over by a police officer for not having a car plate light. I was dressed in drag, wearing jeans, high heels, a wig, and a cute shirt. I was also wearing contacts, which made my eyes irritated, and the police officer asked me if I had been drinking. He gave me a sobriety test, which I passed, with heels on and everything. But I had been drinking a little that night, although he was going to let me go, a second officer pulled up, and they decided to take me in.

I was thrown into the jail, in drag. The people who were detained were playful, whistled, and even friendly (I even knew some of them), but the harshest looks I got were from the police officers. When I was booked, and they took my picture, they made me take off my eyelashes, make up, and my wig. When they threw me back into the cell, they didn’t return my wig, but they let me keep my heels.

Early the next morning, around 4 am, I was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center. My mother was trying to help me, and had sent money to a teacher of mine who tried to pay my bond, but they told her I had an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold. This meant that they had identified me as undocumented, and they would not let me out. I had to spend 120 days in jail.

On March 13th I was transferred to immigration detention, in El Paso, Texas, and then to the Otero Processing Center in New Mexico. I was there for another 3 months there until June 13th.

The hardest thing is not being able to see my family.

There is little privacy, I was paid $1 for an 8 hour work day, we had to clean our own cell, handle harsh relationships with the guards. Some of the guards were racist and homophobic, often our own Latino people. Once when I was walking towards the lunch room, I was told that I should hurry by one of the guards, and that I should run as fast as I had run when I was crossing the border. I was angry, and I replied, ‘just like your mom did?’ I got sent to 2 days in isolation, for disrespecting an officer, but it was worth it.

Although I will never forget how hard it was to be in detention, I am happy that I was able to be out as a queer person. I feel like it gave courage to other people who were also LGBT when we were in detention. We would get together, and would talk back to those who were harassing us. It taught me to stand up for my dignity, and to support fellow LGBT people in detention.

While I was going through this, community and family members were organizing to get me out. With the help of Puente Arizona, they were able to get me a lawyer, raise money for bond, and support me emotionally. I finally got out of detention on June 13th.

I felt weird at first. I could not believe it. I was excited too because I would see my family. I felt sad too, because I got close to people who were in the detention center with me, especially those in the LGBT community. I remember their stories still, and wonder what has happened to them since. I know some of them are still in detention, and some have gotten deported.

It’s been hard to get used to society again after being in jail for so long. I am still trying to heal, and telling my story is one of the ways I am trying to do this. I also started to organize, particularly with Puente Arizona, the organization which also supported my mom while I was in detention.

I continue to organize because I remember all the people that were in there, how much my family suffered, how badly we got treated, and because I have lost so many friends. This is a fight for all of us. The strength that my family showed me, and my LGBT community during this experience, and the stories of those still in the detention center, are what gives me the will to face my fears. It is for them that I am on the bus.

Maricruz: Dejarles como herencia que tienen que defender su dignidad

 

Maricruz es madre y miembro de Puente en Arizona. Está una participante en la jornada por la justicia para levantar su voz, enseñar a todos los padres y todas las madres que hay que dejar a sus hijos como herencia que tienen que defender su respeto y dignidad.
//
Maricruz is a mother and member of Puente in Arizona. She's on the No Papers No Fear ride for justice to raise her own voice and call to all parents to leave their children an inheritance of defending their respect and dignity.

‘No Papers, No Fear’ Ride for Justice Comes to New Orleans, Supports ‘Southern 32’ at Immigration Hearing

National delegation of undocumented migrants make New Orleans fourth stop of national tour. Events to support local labor organizers and civil rights defenders in deportation proceedings. and demand stopping deportations of those ‘pursuing justice.’

(New Orleans, 8/6/2012). -- The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a delegation of undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, students, and others who face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the United States.

Inspired by actions by undocumented young people, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, they are on a tour to come out publicly as undocumented and encourage the immigrant community to organize to defend and affirm its rights.

In New Orleans, the riders will shine a national spotlight on civil, labor, and human rights defenders in the Deep South by supporting Joaquin Navarro-Hernandez in his immigration hearing on Friday morning. Mr. Navarro-Hernandez is a leader of the Southern 32, who are brave men and women who are only in deportation proceedings for standing up to defend their rights. The Southern 32 are demanding an end to Napolitano’s practice of jailing and deporting labor organizers and civil rights defenders for having the courage to stand up and speak out.

“I have been organizing to defend my rights and stop my deportation for a long time. I am excited to be supporter by undocumented people from across the country in my fight to have the truth about Border Patrol and ICE brought to light.” said Joaquin Navarro-Hernandez.

Media availability upon request. Follow @undocubus. NoPapersNoFear.org

The bus is travelling from Phoenix, Arizona to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina stopping to support loca immigrant communities and challenge anti-immigrant officials along the way to spread a message of ‘no papers, no fear.’

###

Austin: Fandango y nueva familia

 

No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice had the opportunity to convivir with the Workers' Defense Project while in Austin.

La jornada por la justicia sin papeles y sin miedo tenía la oportunidad convivir con el proyecto de defensa laboral en Austin.

We Dream at All Ages

Making stencilsMy name is Daniela, I’m undocumented. I have been on the bus since Phoenix, Arizona, and I would like to share my experience of interacting with undocumented people on the bus, and community members in Denver, Colorado.

Although I’ve been involved in activism in my state and around the country, it has always been with other undocumented young people, specifically those fighting for the DREAM Act, and have focused on the experience of Arizona. Being on the bus has been a new experience for me, because besides getting to know the laws that are taking place in other states, I have had the chance to talk to undocumented people who are older than me, who have had different experiences, and who are coming out for the first time in their lives.

One of the things that was different about this experience from my organizing in the past was not just meeting with young people, but with older undocumented people who often go unnoticed. I have worked with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA), which has mostly been led by undocumented young people – although that is changing as we are including our parents and others in the community. What I saw in Denver and with the participants on the bus, is that there are other groups of people, particularly adults, who are taking on the inspiration from the work we are doing as young people, and making it their own.

I am inspired for example by Mari Cruz Jimenez, one of the riders, and the mother of two of the people who were part of a civil disobedience I participated in last March 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. She is on the bus because she saw the work that her children and I were doing, and is ready to do it herself. Seeing her talk about her story, and saying that she is “undocumented, unafraid” makes me feel like our work is inspiring others, and that it is not just our own, but belongs to all of us.

Denver was important to me also because being from Arizona and having lived there for 10 years, experiencing the harsh immigration laws there, I tend to forget about similar laws that are being approved in other states, and those that were put in place even before SB1070.  I realize that sometimes I don't think about the fight that other states are going through, or the wonderful people that are working against such laws, both undocumented and citizens.

Being in Colorado and around people from there was an eye opener for me. While we were there we met with domestic workers, day laborers, and community members. They are amazing fighters, beautiful people full of love and strength and community power. They welcomed us with the biggest arms, heart warming smiles, and eyes that were full of power, strength and love, yet such humble human beings.

I got to learn about SB 90, a law that has been in effect for the last 6 years, and that is pretty much the same as Arizona's SB1070, with a stronger focus on the section that was recently declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, section 2B. It also impacted me to hear about a raid that took place a couple of years ago at a community party, where Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) took six undocumented people who were with their kids, families and friends. According to the community, it took place for one simple reason- their skin color. This reminded me of the struggle we have been fighting in Arizona, and affirmed that immigration laws affect people in a lot more states, and how this fight doesn't belong to just one community but to ALL of us.

In Colorado people are still working on coming out of the shadows, and there is still fear. But seeing how much the beautiful people are giving from themselves and how they are ready to fight more for equality and don't give up even through tough times inspired me, fueled me up, and gave me more energy for this fight than I hadn't had in a long time.

It gave me so much hope for the journey we are in because it makes me realize that what we're doing is beyond ourselves, beyond our families, and beyond our communities, it's for every state, for every city, for EVERY person, documented or undocumented, young in age or young at heart. It's a message that has to get to everyone. Realizing that this fight is bigger than immigration, bigger than LGBTQ people, bigger than the DREAM Act, this is a fight for our beautiful fighters, for our beautiful people, for our strong activists, for our communities, for equality.

No Papers Rosa No Fear

habia una vez una Rosa
who got on the bus
an act so small like this endeavor
can change peoples lives forever
let us get on the bus
to share the story of us
we are taking a ride
there is nothing to hide
this is our destiny
to cross borders & be free
you see we are some of many
sons & daughters of journey
this road we travel
has been walked on well
many before us fell
we are here to remember & tell
these truths we will yell
beyond fear there is freedom
before papers human hearts come
our time is here
we will not disappear
we will only grow
till our corazons overflow
ancestors by our side
we take pride
our right to be
open your eyes & see
we did not choose this
fate chose us
Undocubus
carry hope, faith, courage, & trust
transporting dreams is a must
four elements
all testaments
if you listen long enough
the whispers of families are rough
we hear them when we sleep
the wounds run deep
the hills we climb are steep
step by step, stop by stop
we will reach the top

there waiting for us is a Rosa
red bursting blood & poderosa
like love that runs through our veins
release rivers of pain
only to build beautiful memories
bring forth communities
a coming together of families
dig roots, plant trees, & let leaves roam
all earth is our home
there is a breeze
it pushes us forward with ease
it gives us aliento
no tiene miedo el viento
habia una vez un Rosa
who got on the bus
just like us
carry forth warriors guerreros
de consciencia y voz
somos what dreams are made of
we are sueños of love
creating songs of libertad
toda la verdad
exposed for the world no races
photos of beaming faces
essence of humanity
here is our dignity
no papers no fear
no papers no fear
no papers Rosa no fear
 

Fernando: Reclamar tu libertad

Fernando es un artista de Hip-hop, cocinero, y fotógrafo quien era detenido por un més en Arizona donde vive y organiza con el movimiento pro-migrante. Está participando en la jornada para enseñar los derechos y compartir las historias de él y de los en los centros de detención.

Fernando is a hip-hop, artist, cook, and photographer who was detained for a month in Arizona where he lives and organizes as part of the migrant rights movement. He's on the bus to make sure people know their rights and share his story as well as the story of those he met in detention.

Listen to more of Fernando's music at http://soundcloud.com/verboautonomo

Más info: http://sinpapelesysinmiedo.orghttp://sinpapelesysinmiedo.org More Info: http://nopapersnofear.org

The Metrics of Change

Originally posted at DreamActivist.org

Last week, the news broke that some really wonderful people at the National Immigrant Youth Alliance hadliterally infiltrated the Broward Transitional Center in Florida, what can only be described as a waiting-room-come-prison for immigrants.

News trickled out that they were recording the stories of other people in the detention center, some who were in serious medical trouble, countless others who were being held for months, if not years, for having broken tail lights and an assortment of other ridiculous transgressions.  Ultimately, ICE wasn’t too pleased with what Viri and Marco were doing, so they kicked them out, but not before they inspired over 450 people to go on a hunger strike.  You can sign the petition for their release here.

At the same time, the Undocubus rolled through Texas, and myself and La Kemster of DreamActivist spent time with the riders.  Much fun was had and I’ll just say that I had a very specific role to play in hooking them up with a good time in Austin.

One of the events that they held was a teach-in, co-hosted by the Detention Watch Network and the Hutto Visitation Program.  Riders on the bus and some folks from Waco went one by one, telling their stories of being detained for having too many political bumper stickers (that’s not an exaggeration) and having broken tail lights. Each of them had been detained for at least several months, if not 10. But because these folks were activists or had communities on the outside actively supporting them, they actually got off easy, if you could say that. They met folks in detention who had been there for for a year- some, two.

They all shared the incredible humiliation and dehumanization they felt while they were in detention. The private prison guards are held to little if any standards, and routinely abuse detainees, from sexually assaulting and threatening women to smashing art projects to “working” in the detention kitchens for $1-$3 a day.  The lights are always on, making it hard to sleep, and they get barely any time outside in the “recreation” area, which is usually a yard with high walls and a rectangular sky criss-crossed by fence.  ICE officers constantly push people to sign paperwork that they don’t understand – which is usually a voluntary deportation order.  All of this, in addition to the fact that most people have no idea where their family is, whether they’re okay, whether anybody knows that they’ve been detained, or whether anybody in the world gives a damn about them.

How amazing, then, that Viri and Marco had the guts to put themselves in detention and let several hundred people know that there are people on the other side of the wall who care about them and their stories.  From humiliation to humanization, these are the intangible metrics of real change.

Check out pictures from the Broward county action here.

Photos from the Journey: Instagram

Solidarity Forever

On August 8, 2012 the ‘No Papers No Fear’ riders were welcomed to New Orleans with a tour of the city and its people.  We met Ted Quant in front of an obelisk originally dedicated to White Supremacy. He told us about the history of the monument, intertwined with a history of how African Americans in New Orleans and in the south,  also relates to fear, legality, and papers.

“No papers, no fear” is a very profound expression for all of us. As the history of this monument tells us, and the history of African Americans tells us, we had to stand up against fear, and we had to fight against not having papers. There was a moment in the south where if you didn’t have papers  to show that  you worked for a plantation, or you did not have 100 dollars in your pocket  - back when 100 was like having 1,000 dollars – you could be arrested for vagrancy.

If you were arrested for that, under the United States constitution, you could be re-enslaved. The constitution says that there should be no involuntary servitude in the country, that means you cannot be a slave, unless you are convicted of a crime. And  like this, you can be arrested and they can sell you like a slave under what they would call the ‘Convict Lease System.” So they were able to re-enslave African Americans simply because they did not have papers, or did not have money in their pockets.

The civil war was the extension of the politics of two capitalistic systems, one with free labor, and one with slave labor that could no longer co-exist. With the passage of the fugitive slave act and the Dread Scott Supreme Court decision, the south had extended the reach of slavery into free states and demanded that free people become accomplices in the enslavement of African people. Just as the laws demand United States citizens comply with laws criminalizing immigrant workers in the U.S. today.

If you come to the hospital sick, and you have no papers,  ‘let them die.’ This is not tolerable to any human being. People are told if you see a kid in the class room, ask ‘You got papers? You got papers?,’ and you are 3 years old.  Come get this kid and put him in jail. This is what we are being driven to do. This is unjust. Just like in the fugitive slave days, our history is connected like this.

Today, with your ‘No papers no fear,’ you are connected to that history. Our history and your history are one history. The history of oppressed people fighting for equality is one history.

In the past, some times we say that ‘I’m helping you.’ Because I got papers. So I’m helping you. That’s the wrong idea. What I do, I do for me and for you, because we are the same. Our history is bound together. It is not about your rights or my rights, because our needs are the  same, human rights and justice.

The fight to divide us is going to escalate. Our need to stand with each other is going to become challenged and strained, and we are going to have to hold on tight to the ideals that we believe. With this ‘No Papers No Fear’ demonstration, you are challenging this historic and continuing injustice, of ‘divide and conquer.’ It is an appeal for humanity, a sense of dignity, and fairness.

As you gain attention and respect for your courage, and the justice of your cause, the cause of human rights for all will come into the minds of others and change the tide of history.

Unbowed and unbroken.
No papers no fear.
Sin Papeles sin miedo!
Solidarity for ever.



Ted Quant is the director of the Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice, based at the Loyola University in New Orleans.

Rally with Southern 32 at Court Hearing, Call to End ICE Abuse in New Orleans


Despite Obama Administration Directive to Protect Labor and Civil Rights Defenders,
Southern Immigration Office Continues to Push for Wrongful Deportations in Cover Up of Agency’s Own Abusive Practices
 
New Orleans, LA –  Two years ago, Joaquin Navarro Hernandez was merely standing on the day labor corner when he became the victim of a botched Border Patrol raid<http://m.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/new-orleans-immigration-battles/Content?oid=2049876&issue=2049665>.  in the chaos that ensued, Joaquin was pursued several blocks by car and assaulted by a bystander.  When a neighbor attempted to report the wrongful mistreatment Joaquin had faced, the New Orleans Police Department instead took custody of Joaquin and turned him over to Border Patrol. Even though Joaquin stood up to expose the misconduct and cover up,  Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to push for his deportation-- all in an attempt to cover up their own abuse and avoid a potential scandal.

Joaquin, a devoted father was one of the many day laborers who was called upon to help in the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina..  Since his arrest, Joaquin has been an active leader and spokesperson for the “Southern 32<http://www.makejusticereal.org/>,” a group of immigrant leaders facing deportation for speaking up about civil and labor rights violations.  In early May, the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice launched the Stand Up 2012: Make Justice Real <http://www.makejusticereal.org/> campaign to demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) follow its own policy directives and end the practice of deporting labor organizers and civil rights defenders in the South.  However, as Joaquin’s case shows, the New Orleans ICE office has done a deplorable job when it comes to upholding their own agency’s policies.

At his court hearing tomorrow, Joaquin will continue to fight against the egregious abuse and cover up that led to his arrest and stand up for his own civil rights.  Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier ruled in favor of Joaquin, noting that the issues of targeted immigration enforcement and local police involvement in immigration raids are of "substantial public interest in the City of New Orleans, where the plight of the large population of immigrant workers who have assisted in rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina has been a matter of particular concern."  However, despite the opinion of the court, ICE continues to push for Joaquin’s deportation.

Tomorrow’s hearing coincides with the fourth stop in the tour of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice<http://nopapersnofear.org/>, a delegation of undocumented people of all ages, from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, students, and others who face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the United States.  Immediately following tomorrow’s trial at 10:30 am CDT, undocumented migrant riders will gather outside the courtroom to hold a press conference and rally lifting up the cases of the Southern 32 and urge ICE to follow their own policies and protect these defenders of civil, labor and human rights.

WHAT: Press conference and rally with undocumented migrant riders from the ‘No Papers No Fear, Ride for Justice’

WHENFriday, August 10, 2012, 10:30 AM CDT (Trial scheduled from 8:30-10:00 AM)

WHERE: Outside the U.S. Immigration Court, One Canal Place, 365 Canal Street.

WHO: ‘Southern 32’ Workers and ‘No Papers No Fear’ Riders, expert witnesses, and community supporters.

VISUALS: ‘No Papers No Fear’ delegation traveling across the country, signs made by community organizers, demonstrators.
 
For more information on Stand Up 2012: Make Justice Real, visit www.MakeJusticeReal.org<http://www.MakeJusticeReal.org>
and NoPapersNoFear.org

Follow @undocubus for live updates from the rally
 

No Papers No Fear Stands Up to New Orleans Sheriff

 


It has now been a little over a month since a group of undocumented immigrants fromArizona set out aboard their “UndocuBus” on a nationwide tour, spreading awareness about the dangerous position the undocumented find themselves in in this country, as well as the necessity of passing true, comprehensiveimmigration reform. “We have…witnessed how actions led by our own communities have the power to change policies and to create alternatives to defend the rights of immigrants,” explained the organizers of the “No Papers, No Fear” Ride for Justice, “We can't wait for anyone else any longer. We've come too far to allow this country to be turned back.”


This week, the undocumented riders are leading a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups in urging the New Orleans Sheriff’s Department from following in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s example in holding suspected undocumented immigrants for federal immigration authorities. The “No Papers, No Fear” riders today joined Women United for Justice, a local New Orleans social justice group, gathering at the office of New Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman to urge an end to these dangerous and unnecessary detentions.


According to the protestors, Gusman’s insistence on holding those suspected of being undocumented until their legal residency status can be determined has resulted in a series of gross violations of individuals’ constitutional rights. In addition, the policy has created a crippling sense of insecurity among New Orleans residents, which has all but broken down the relationship between minority communities and law enforcement officers. The protestors argue that Gusman should follow the example of Washington D.C. and the state of Connecticut, which have already ended these immigrant detentions.


The situation in New Orleans was brought into the national spotlight recently by immigrant rights activist Joaquin Navarro-Hernandez. Navarro Hernandez is leading a group of undocumented individuals known as “the Southern 32,” who are currently facing deportation proceedings after coming out of the shadows and standing out to defend their rights. Today’s protestors insist that the United States stop its practice of deporting labor organizers and civil rights activists who are courageous enough to stand up for themselves and their communities.


The “No Papers, No Fear” ride for justice will continue onward across the United States over the next month, eventually converging at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC on September 3. “We’re ready to move the country forward and we’re risking everything to do so,” said the riders. “We hope to inspire officials to match our courage.”

La guagua de los 'sin papeles'

 

Origínalmente publicado en Mundo Hispanico

Vienen con mensajes de libertad, enseñanzas de rebeldía y voces de solidaridad. Vienen en bus, sin papeles y sin miedo.

Alrededor de 30 indocumentados, entre jóvenes y adultos, comenzaron este 28 de julio un viaje a través del suroeste y el sur del país a bordo del UndocuBus (el indocu-autobus).

Aunque de inicio se había avisado de la participación de tres indocumentados de Georgia, hasta el cierre de esta edición la organización no había confirmado su arribo.

“Estamos tratando de regar el mensaje de que hay que perder el miedo a la policía y a las leyes que nos atacan porque ya estuvo bueno de que nos ataquen y de que nos escondamos”, dijo a MundoHispánico Fernando López, indocumentado de Arizona que será parte del grupo.

Auspiciados por las organizaciones Puente Arizona y la Red Nacional de Jornaleros (NDLON), entre otras, los activistas cuentan con un autobús que tiene seis camas y asientos para que los pasajeros tengan un viaje menos apretado.

Además, se cuenta con un fondo para solventar problemas que pudieran ocurrir en el camino, desde la pochadura de una llanta hasta un encuentro con autoridades migratorias.

“Estamos muy conscientes de que un encuentro con migración es algo que puede pasar en el camino”, explicó López. “Pero ese mismo riesgo corremos aquí todos los días. Nosotros tenemos que sacrificar algo para obtener algo, que en este caso es la reforma migratoria”.

El camión partirá de Phoenix, Arizona, y parará en ocho estados—entre ellos Georgia—en ruta a Charlotte, Carolina del Norte, en donde se celebrará la Convención Nacional del Partido Demócrata (DNC) del 3 al 6 de septiembre.

Las fechas de la visita al ‘Estado del Durazno’ se confirmarán conforme se acerquen al estado.

Los organizadores indicaron que se eligió la DNC como destino porque es ese partido el que se muestra más abierto a las necesidades de la comunidad indocumentada de cara a las elección presidencial de noviembre entrante.

“El presidente Barack Obama prometió que promovería una reforma migratoria y cuatro años después no se ha visto mucho progreso”, dijo López. “Si quiere mantener el apoyo que se ganó al hacer esa promesa debe mantener su compromiso”.

Al arranque de este viaje le precedió una semana de desobediencia civil en la que indocumentados de Phoenix protestaron afuera de la corte donde se juzga al sheriff Joe Arpaio por presunta discriminación racial.

Al menos cuatro de ellos fueron arrestados y puestos a disposición de las autoridades migratorias sin que estas abrieran los respectivos procesos de deportación.

“Con esta acción quisimos enseñarle a la comunidad que ya no tenemos miedo y que ya estamos cansados del perfil racial [sic] de (Joe) Arpaio contra nosotros”, dijo Natally Cruz, otra indocumentada que viajará a bordo de la guagua de ‘los sin papeles’.

Los organizadores explicaron que esta campaña es la continuación de los años de lucha en contra de las medidas antiinmigrantes que se instauraron primero en Arizona y luego en muchas otras partes del país.

Esto también ocurre a unos días de que se anuncie el detalle del proceso para que los jóvenes indocumentados soliciten el aplazamiento a sus deportaciones, según indicó Obama.

Sígalos

El acontecer del recorrido de la guagua sin papeles se podrá seguir a través del blog que se incluye en la página web: www.nopapersnofear.org

 

mariposa

The Undocs on the Bus - Dallas Morning News Editorial

 

no papers no fear protest in phxOriginally published at Dallas Morning News

Those without papers are often described as living in the shadows, a tired phrase that perhaps survives because it very neatly captures the predicament.

If your life is defined in this manner, you can see the world but the world doesn’t see you, or at least doesn’t see you in all your dimensions.  A part of our labor market depends on this arrangement, whether we like it or not.

Years ago, a story on one of these shadowy folk created quite a stir in journalistic circles because the subject was named and photographed in a Page One story, when that term meant more than it does today. But that’s not what made news. The furor erupted when  immigration authorities, using the information contained in the article, promptly arrested the subject of the profile and journalists and others angrily debated naming those “in the shadows.”

There are no easy answers to this one. As an editor, I argued that we had a responsibility to describe, with some specificity, the risks people would run if they volunteered to have their names appear in a story.  I felt—and to some extent still feel—that we had an obligation to do so because many of the people we write about are not always aware of the personal risks.

A lot has changed on this front. There’s something called National Coming Out of the Shadows Week, which includes specific instructions on how to “declare yourself undocumented.” The shift began with the immigration protests in 2006, and now it is pretty common to see young people publicly brand themselves in this fashion.

As we write, the UndocuBus is making its way east, twelve days into a journey that began in Phoenix and will end at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.  Many of the people on board have one thing in common: they are here illegally.

In fact, they wear their illegality on their sleeve, as well as on t-shirts, placards and banners strung across the bus . No Papers, No Fear–Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo–is the official slogan.

The bus has already crossed Texas, uneventfully by all accounts, in case you’re wondering. Austin, we hear, was welcoming. The road trip will go through Georgia and Alabama, where new immigration laws pose a considerable risk, at least on paper.

I caught up with it the travelers this morning, by phone, when the bus was still in the Big Easy.

What’s been the reception?

“We’re drawing a lot of energy, a lot of strength,” said Maria Cruz Ramirez,  46, a mother of three from Mexico who has been in the United States for 11 years.

I detected no fear in Maria.

Two of her children went even more public with their status by taking part in an act of civil disobedience directed at Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Arizona lawman whose take prisoners approach to immigration now has him as lead defendant in a federal civil rights trial.

Her two kids, also undocumented, spent several nights in jail as a result of their very public protest. Ramirez sees the bus ride as part of the same strategy—to bring attention to a population that is all around us and at the same time invisible.

“We should be seen with respect, and treated with dignity,” Ramirez told me. “Just because we don’t have documents doesn’t mean we don’t have rights.”

I wondered at the reception the bus has gotten. Perhaps by design, contact with the world is generally limited to host communities in each city. Still, these people are now out there, literally and figuratively, so the potential for adventures is in theory around every corner.

“We have gotten looks, and some comments, along the way,” said Tania Unzueta, a spokeswoman who is along for the ride. It is pretty tepid stuff. Someone in a car offered something rude. On the other side of the equation, some people offered raised fists in solidarity.

Ramirez had never ventured from Phoenix. Not having papers, somewhat paradoxically, roots you in place. The bus has broadened her vistas, in many ways. And she says she is the better for it.

“Each state is like being in our own house,” she told me.

No doubt that reflects the reception she and the others are getting from immigration rights groups. But the way she said it resonated in another way. People who live in the shadows are now everywhere, and so everywhere to some extent is home to them.

Even when you’re on a bus, rolling east,  in the sunlight of a southern summer.

Follow @escobardmn

Coalition of Black and Latina Women, Women from Arizona Visit Sheriff’s Office, Demand Sheriff Stop Submitting to Immigration Hold Requests

 


The delegation is part of Women United for Justice, a group of New Orlean women of all races and backgrounds organizing against over incarceration and deportation on communities, families, and children. They will join an Arizona delegation, part of the ‘No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice,’ a group of undocumented immigrants traveling across the south working for immigrant rights. They will bring the example of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s notorious treatment of undocumented immigrants, and ask Sheriff Marlin Gusman to stand on the right side of history.


WHAT: A delegation of undocumented women from Arizona will join local immigrants and civil rights leaders from Women United for Justice, in demanding that Sheriff Gusman stop holding undocumented immigrants and turn them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


WHEN: Tomorrow, Thursday August 08, 2012, 1:30 PM


WHERE: Eastbank Office of Sheriff Marlin Gusman, 819 South Broad Street, New Orleans, LA, 70119


WHO: Undocumented women from Arizona, part of the ‘No Papers No Fear’ Ride for Justice, a journey that began in Phoenix, Arizona on July 29th; Deliny Palencia, member of the Congress of Daylaborers and local leader who was unconstitutionally held by the Sheriff’s department; Latoya Lewis, organizer with Stand with Dignity, New Orleans.


WHY: The Sheriff’s submission to immigration hold requests has led to numerous, grave, constitutional violations and a deterioration of trust between the immigrant community and local authorities. The Sheriff could follow in the footsteps of Cook County, Washington D.C. and the state of Connecticut, and no longer use city resources to divide families and deteriorate civil rights. This is an opportunity for the Sheriff to hear how people in Arizona have been affected by implementation of similar policies, and to chose to be on the right side of history.


Actions by undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves. The riders are undocumented people  from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.


More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates. Selected bios of participants for the No Papers No Fear Justice Ride attached below. 

La Mano de Obra Inmigrante En Las Polleras de Laurel, Mississippi

 

El 11 de Agosto La Jornada por la Justicia: Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo, fue recibida por el Comité Popular de Laurel. Compartimos con ellos y ellas un taller de educación y organización, y ellos compartieron el trabajo que han hecho localmente, asi como los problemas de las polleras que afectan a los trabajadores presentes.

Yo tuve la experiencia de trabajar por unos días en una pollera y conocí en carne propia el desgaste la presión y estrés que se vive en este trabajo, ya que se tiene que cumplir con metas que sobrepasan la capacidad humana para garantizar las ganancias de las empresas. 

Los y las trabajadoras nos enseñaron como funcionan las polleras y los diferentes trabajos que se hacen dentro de las fabricas: desde el criadero de los pollos, su cuidado, cuando pasan a la procesadora, el colgado, degollado, las zonas calientes , los cortes, la calidad y el empacado para que salga al mercado. Todo se aprovecha - hasta los huesos que son molidos para fabricar harina y concentrado para alimentar a los mismos pollos.

Los y las  trabajadoras nos explicaron con lujo de detalle todo el proceso y también como son tratados como empleados en las polleras.  Se enfrentan con muchas dificultades, salarios bajos y casi nunca llegan a completar las 40 horas reglamentarias para gozar de los beneficios laborales.

En la reunión que fue muy participativa, se caldearon los ánimos  cuando se adentraron al tema que mas les preocupaba: el abuso laboral y la mala representación del Sindicato de LIUNA del cual todos o casi todos son afiliados.

En Laurel hay tres procesadoras, pero se enfocaron mas en la de PICO FOOD, (local 693) los problemas se resumen de la siguiente manera:

El liderazgo mas alto del Sindicato a cargo del Sr. Frank Mc Laurin y el Sr. Sherpi Jones no están representando bien a los afiliados y los problemas que se mencionan son:

  • Se han aliado con el gobierno local de la ciudad para tratar de sacar a los trabajadores de las polleras.
  • La ciudad a intervenido y los resultados son arrestos y deportaciones de trabajadores y trabajadoras.
  • El Sindicato esta apoyado la E-verify. Están haciendo nuevamente las verificaciones de los números de Seguro Social (SSN) sin importar el tiempo de antigüedad de algunos trabajadores que pasa de los diez anos.
  • Hay un documento con el membrete de la Internacional del Sindicato donde hablan de la reverificación del SSN.
  • No reportan a los afiliados los acuerdos que hacen  y estos terminan afectando a los y las trabajadoras.
  • Los oficiales están haciendo tratos con la Empresa (polleras) a espalda de los afiliados y afiliadas.
  • Los trabajadores han manifestado que para darles trabajo a nuevas personas les cobran de $ 500.00 hasta $ 1,400.00
  • Expresaron que amenazan con despedir a los trabajadores que hablen de estas malas practicas

En la Marshal Durbin ( Local 693)

  • A casi todas las personas les dicen que están mal sus papeles, están despidiendo muchos trabajadores; a los nuevos trabajadores les pagan bajo salario.
  • Las fabricas entre si están coordinando para mantener los salarios bajos.
  • Están cobrando a los trabajadores para poder emplearlos en las polleras.
  • La comunidad solicita que lleguen oficiales de Washington DC. para resolver esta situación porque no confían en los dos oficiales antes mocionados, manifiestan que en anos anteriores han llegado oficiales de Washington y han resueltos los problemas pero que nuevamente se repiten.

Posterior al pequeño diagnostico finalizamos con una actividad cultural donde los miembros de la Caravana y de la comunidad compartieron historias del trato recibidos y ahora los miembros del bus han expresado que han salido de la oscuridad Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo, también se reflexiono la importancia de la organización de las comunidades para luchar por la defensa de los derechos que nos pertenecen.

“La victoria no es obtener papeles; éste es nada más un peldaño dentro de la lucha por la igualdad y la justicia. Nadie se puede quedar atrás o esperar que otras personas u organizaciones luchen por nosotros. A la gente humilde nunca le han dado nada de gratis; siempre ha luchado para recavar sus derechos robados y pisoteados. Y no hay mejor lucha que aquella que colectivamente es peleada, sufrida, llorada, gozada”.

Jornalero Coming Out of the Shadows Day

 

Eleazar Castellanos is a day laborer from Tucson, Arizona, and a member of the Southside Worker’s Center, and one of the participants of the No Papers No Fear ride for justice. While he was in New Orleans he spent most of his time talking to other day laborers, visiting them in corners, under bridges, and at the local community organizations.

We had great moments and experiences in New Orleans. We visited a group of day laborers organizing with the Congress of Day Laborers, with whom we exchanged live experiences. I left impressed with their organization, and realized that they share much in common with the day laborers in Arizona.

While we were in New Orleans I had the opportunity to visit the day laborer corner on Gretna street, located underneath an intersection. We went early in the morning, and found about 25 people who gathered in the morning. There were day laborers who had traveled from Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. They told us that usually there are some 30 to 40 people, but that day the number was lower because there was a forecast of rain.  Although it doesn’t rain much in Arizona, the weather and other external factors always play a role in how many people show up at the corner, and how much work there is available.

There are other things we have in common, similar aspirations and problems, such as finding a stable job. A stable job for us would mean being hired by a company that guarantees work every day, with a contract. In Arizona there are people who have gotten those jobs, but with the implementation of E-verify it has become nearly impossible. For me, even when I have the skills, I am often only hired for a few weeks or a month, and then they tell me I have to go, for fear that they will be fined or that their license will be taken away. I heard the same stories from people in New Orleans.

But we understand that people have needs. And that even when there is an employer who is taking advangate of the workers, offering very low pay for jobs that require skills, or who just offer a flat $50 per day, there is always a person who takes it. There is always someone who needs money, and we don’t blame them, we just give them our place.

There were also things to learn about the way we organize. We face similar problems outreaching to day laborers in corners. For example, they wont come to meetings, and it is hard for them to commit to rules, or see the benefit of working together. I feel that we lose a lot of ideas and opinions that people have that could help us improve our organizing.

In Tucson we have a system, where one person has a list of all the day laborers, and when an employment opportunity comes along, it is one person that dialogues and negotiates payment and contract. Some people don’t like that because they feel like they can get more work individually, or like to go to other corners. But the reality is that when we have a network that protects us, when someone doesn’t want to pay, or is hurt on the job, our organization can help negotiate with the employer and support us. They don’t have this system in New Orleans, although some of the people at the corner thought it might be a good idea. What they do have though is a network that also fights with them.

I was also able to talk to the day laborers about our trip, and what we are doing. At first, many of them seemed distrustful of my intentions. It seems to me they have been cheated in the past, tricked, and persecuted, and it is understandable that they do not trust. But when I got to talk to them about who we were, and the No Papers No Fear tour, and a bus full of undocumented people, working not just for ourselves, but for everyone. They would say ‘wow, really? Is it true?” And they would listen to our stories.

I left feeling like day laborers in New Orleans and in Tucson and all over the country need to know that we are free. That we need to organize in order to fight back towards abuses and seek help. We are not alone, and it is easier for something bad to happen to us when we are, whether is with the police, immigration or accidents.

As I left that corner, I asked them if they would come out of the shadows in support, and at least three workers said yes. I look forward to the day when we can have day laborers from all over the country unite and talk about our experiences, a jornalero coming out of the shadows day.

El Juicio de Joaquin y los 32 del Sur

 


En Agosto 10, 2012, mas de 30 personas con camisetas del Congreso de Jornaleros y Stand with Dignity entraron a la corte de inmigración de Joaquín Navarro Hernández, portando calcomanías que decían “Southern 32 on the right side of history,” o en español, “32 de sur: en el lado correcto de la historia.” Los participantes de la Jornada por la Justicia: Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo fuimos a esa corte para apoyar a Joaquín y a los 32 de Sur, un grupo de personas que son jornaleros y están luchando en contra de su proceso de deportación.



Este juico de inmigración era para ver la validez de un reporte de la patrulla fronteriza el cual el gobierno quiere usar como evidencia en el proceso de deportación de Joaquín.  La representante de Inmigración, Cromwell, empezó tratando de introducir como evidencia un articulo en una publicación donde Joaquín hablaba de ser Jornalero, diciendo que él había admitido no tener documentos, tratando de intimidarlo por haber hablado de su caso públicamente. El juez le dijo que el articulo no contaba como evidencia.

Cromwell después le pregunto de que país venia. La abogada de Joaquín, Rosenbaum, hizo una objeción a la pregunta, argumentando que la pregunta era lo que el gobierno tenia que haber comprobado antes. El juez dijo que Joaquín podía contestarla o no, pero iba a dejar que Cromwell la preguntara. Joaquín defendió su derecho a no contestar esa pregunta.

Este intercambio entre Rosenbaum y el juez acerca de preguntas sobre las cuales la abogada tenia objeción ocurrió dos veces, con la misma decisión del juez. La primera vez que paso este intercambio no fue interpretado, aun que había ahí un interprete de la corte. Rosenbaum pidió que estos intercambios fuesen interpretados, pues la información era relevante para Joaquín, y después de pensarlos unos minutos, el juez decidió que sí.

Cuando le toco a Rosenbaum hacer su interrogación, uso una copia gigante del documento de la patrulla fronteriza, la I-213, que el gobierno quería usar como evidencia para el proceso de deportación. Rosenbaum señalo las ocho violaciones que la patrulla fronteriza había cometido, mas las mentiras que habían escrito, usando como evidencia el testimonio de Joaquín y unos documentos de la policía de Nueva Orleans que corroboran su testimonio. Rosenbaum también explico que Joaquín es parte de una investigación de estas violaciones a los derechos civiles de parte de los agentes gubernamentales.

Aunque el juez no cerro el caso y le dio 30 días a Cromwell para corroborar el documento, dijo que para él el documento claramente no tenia validez. Además añadió que si el gobierno quería continuar el caso, necesitaría obtener mejor evidencia, posiblemente el testimonio de los agentes de patrulla fronteriza. Es mas que probable que en los siguientes 30 días el caso de Joaquín se cierre.

Al salir de la corte nos juntamos en un circulo y seguimos intercambiando saludos, historias y abrazos entro la comunidad de los jornaleros de Nueva Orleans y los que vamos en la Jornada por la Justicia. Juntos imploramos a la comunidad a que se siga organizando para defender  los miembros de nuestras comunidades, peleando en contra de los abusos hacia las personas marginalizadas. A demás, le pedimos al gobierno que en lugar de perseguir a las personas sin documentos, debería de investigar las violaciones a los derechos civiles y humanos de sus mismos agentes.

Partimos de Nueva Orleans sabiendo que esta lucha es un logro, pero que no resuelve su situación, ni la de las otras 32 personas del sur que siguen en proceso de deportación, o el de las miles de personas que han hecho sus vidas en EE.UU. Tampoco resuelve la situación de las que arriesgamos nuestro futuro y presente cada día, al vivir, viajar, o buscar trabajo. Por eso seguimos organizando, porque como se ha dicho: la única comunidad segura es una comunidad organizada.

Immigrants Halts Deportation After Challenging Border Patrol Arrest

Originally Published in the Times Picayune

Immigrant Joaquin Navarro-Hernandez, a member of the "Southern 32," triumphed in a Fridayimmigration court hearing, where he halted attempts to deport him by showing inaccuracies in the government's only proof against him. The hearing was held to question the accuracy of an arrest report issued by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents who detained him after a raid on a day-laborer corner in 2010. Immigration Judge Wayne Stogner pointed at an easel-size enlargement of the report, its alleged inaccuracies marked with blue and yellow Post-It notes by Hernandez's lawyers. "I have no confidence that document is reliable," he said, noting that he considered that conclusion "a very serious matter."

joaquin-navarro-hernandez-southern-32.jpgStogner gave prosecutor Veronica Cromwell from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement until Sept. 10 to decide whether the agency will continue to pursue Hernandez's deportation, but he didn't seem optimistic about their chances.

"I've said that document will not be sufficient. And I think that will end it," Stogner said. "But we'll see."

The New Orleans immigrant laborers and maids who make up the "Southern 32" all face deportation. Their cases are considered critical tests of immigration policy: All of them also have pending civil rights and civil liberties claims because, like Hernandez, they challenged law enforcement practices or claim they were victims of wage theft, unconstitutional treatment and "payday raids" by immigration agents tipped off by questionable employers who didn't want to pay workers or submit to demands for safety equipment.

When Hernandez walked onto the sidewalk in front of immigration court, at the corner of Canal and North Peters streets, he was greeted by applause and stenciled signs printed with an image of his face and the words "Southern 32 -- the right side of history."

He'd come a long way from Jan. 12, 2010, when Border Patrol agents approached him and other construction workers at an Upper 9th Ward gas station, a well-known day laborer corner at St. Claude and Franklin avenues.

All of the men left the premises and, according to a report written by a Border Patrol agent, Hernandez was apprehended "after a brief foot chase."

In fact, according to evidence presented Friday, Hernandez wasn't apprehended until he reached the corner of Port and North Rampart street, several blocks away. At that point, he was tackled by a would-be Good Samaritan -- who, knowing the Border Patrol officer was giving chase by vehicle -- tackled Hernandez, holding him down with such force that it alarmed a nearby resident. That resident called the New Orleans Police Department to say that she saw a "black male in a black sweatshirt ... holding down a Hispanic male wearing black cap ... on the ground."

The NOPD responded and arrested Hernandez, which is how he ended up in Border Patrol custody about 40 minutes later, according to testimony. Neither the "Good Samaritan," the NOPD nor the Rampart Street apprehension location were mentioned in the Border Patrol report.

Through his attorneys, Hernandez filed a public information request with ICE so that he could prove what had happened and show that the Border Patrol had no probable cause, beyond his Latino appearance, to arrest him. After talking about his case with other workers from the Congress of Day Laborers, Hernandez believed that, contrary to official policy, similar raids were often conducted on day-laborer corners in New Orleans.

That led to his first legal victory. Border Patrol withheld the records he'd requested, so he filed suit. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled in his favor in February, ordering the Border Patrol to produce the records. The documents disclosed help to "facilitate public oversight of Border Patrol's enforcement ... both as it relates to his own case and in general," Barbier wrote, ordering the Border Patrol to pay nearly $52,000 in attorneys fees.

In his decision, Barbier noted that the documents Hernandez received contributed to a public debate about whether Border Patrol agents should target all undocumented immigrants, or only those with documented criminal histories, and whether local police should be involved with immigration enforcement. "Both these questions are of substantial public interest in the City of New Orleans, where the plight of the large population of immigrant workers who have assisted in rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina has been a matter of particular concern," Barbier wrote.

In Friday's matter, Hernandez's attorney Jennifer Rosenbaum of the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice told the court she would ask the government to terminate deportation proceedings against her client.

"Good," said the judge. "We are adjourned."

•••••••

Katy Reckdahl can be reached at kreckdahl@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3396.

Southern 32 member Joaquin Navarro Hernandez may soon see relief from deportation

Originally Published in the Gambit




After more than two-and-a-half years in the local immigration court system, day laborer and Southern 32 memberJoaquin Navarro Hernandez — who was featured prominently in our recent cover story *— seems likely to avoid deportation. In a hearing in New Orleans Immigration Court today, Judge William Wayne Stogner said that the government's primary evidence against Navarro Hernandez, U.S. Border Patrol's I-213 (record of deportable alien) was effectively useless.


"I have a high degree of certainty that the document is not reliable and won't sustain the government's burden," Stogner said. He did not suppress the document, instead giving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 30 days to attempt to prove its reliability or, failing that, provide new evidence against Navarro Hernandez. If not, Navarro Hernandez's case will be terminated.


"I think that's going to end it," Stogner said before adjourning.


(More after the jump)



Video: Navarro Hernandez after the hearing



In arguments prior to Stogner's decision, Navarro Hernandez's attorney, J.J. Rosenbaum of the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, read from the I-213, finding a number of inaccuracies in just one sentence of a Border Patrol agent's narrative of the arrest, which occurred near the corner of St. Claude Avenue and Franklin Avenue, where many local day laborers congregate.


"I was able to apprehend one of these suspects after a brief foot chase," the I-213 reads.


Border Patrol later admitted, in testimony pertaining to a federal civil court case Navarro Hernandez successfully pursued against the agency, that the agent did not pursue Hernandez alone. Rather a citizen and several New Orleans Police Department officers assisted in the apprehension. Navarro Hernandez claims that the citizen attacked him, hitting and forcibly restraining him until police arrived. (That claim was corroborated by an NOPD dispatch report, read aloud in court today, of a call from a nearby resident who saw "a black man in a black shirt" holding down a Hispanic man at the time and in the location of Navarro Hernandez's apprehension.)


 


Furthermore, in testimony from Navarro Hernandez's lawsuit against the agency (submitted as evidence in his deportation case) a Border Patrol agent said that day laborer corner raids were outside that agency's purview. Finally, Rosenbaum said, the document failed to provide adequate probable cause for the arrest, alleging that he was approached and apprehended due to racial profiling.


"Today the court stood with the people and the community," Rosenbaum said during a rally following the hearing. Rosenbaum added that immigration arrests based on racial profiling and weak evidence "will not stand. "


At the rally Navarro Hernandez held a blown up copy of the arrest document, with post-it notes marking every alleged inconsistency and inaccuracy.


 


Navarros I-213. Apparent inconsistencies and inaccuracies are marked.
  •  
  • Navarro's I-213. Apparent inconsistencies and inaccuracies are marked.


 


"The numbers show all the lies Border Patrol used to arrest Joaquin. We're asking the government to investigate these lies" in this case and others, rather than continuing to aggressively pursue deportations for workers, Rosenbaum said.


Navarro Hernandez has filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Homeland Security.


*ICE attorney Veronica Cromwell submitted the article as evidence against Navarro Hernandez today, claiming that he admitted entering the country illegally in interview. She also said that the article contained information from the I-213, making it public information and therefore rendering moot any argument that it should be suppressed as evidence.


However, as Rosenbaum pointed out, Navarro Hernandez did not admit anything — he wouldn't even say his country of origin — in the article. Also, the I-213 was already public. It had been submitted as evidence in his federal lawsuit against Border Patrol. Rosenbaum was arguing that it should be suppressed because, as the article itself explains in some detail, there were questions as to its credibility and veracity. Stogner ruled that the article was admissible but, after scanning it, said he found no evidence it would help the government prove its case.


No Papers, No Fear Ride Stops in Mississippi

 

Listen to the report on Mississippi Public Broadcasting

A group of undocumented immigrants is traveling across the nation in hopes of fighting legislation aimed at workers who aren't in the country legally. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the group spent the weekend in Mississippi trying to gain support.
 
About 30 immigrants are bussing through Mississippi. They say they have no papers and no fear, and they're headed to the Democratic National Convention. Angel Alvarez moved to the U.S. when he was one year old, and wants to see laws like the one in his home state of Arizona, changed.
 
"We're all a community and we're all a part of it and, like me, for example, I've lived here my whole life. This is my country. I don't want to go back. I don't know anything out there so I don't want to go back."
 
An immigration reform law similar to Arizona's failed in the Mississippi legislature earlier this year, but it's likely to return during next year's session. Bill Chandler is Executive Director of the Mississippi Immigrant's Rights Alliance.
 
"Undocumented people have been so pushed back into the shadows to the extent that they're so vulnerable. To turn around and stand up is reminiscent of the sit-ins that occurred on Capitol Street in the early 1960s."
 
Some of the riders like Fernando Lopez are currently facing deportation. He hopes to start a movement and see those policies changed.
 
"One purpose is to go ask the President, but also start demanding and organizing the community so we can build a bigger movement. Then we're going to be able to achieve something."
 
The riders are on their way to Memphis today, and will eventually go to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention early next month.

Solidaridad Entre Madres Inmigrantes

El grupo de personas integrantes de La Jornada por La Justicia: Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo visitaron a inmigrantes sin documentos viviendo en Nueva Orleans. Durante la mañana del 9 de Agosto una delegación de mujeres de Arizona y Alabama visitó al alguacil Marlin Gusman. Leticia es una madre y activista de Arizona quien tiene las siguientes reflexiones sobre el evento.

El Jueves 9 de agosto del 2012 comenzamos el dia con una visita al Sheriff de Nueva Orleans, Marlin Gusman, para apoyar a una madre de familia que fue arrestada y detenida. Conocí a Deliny Palencia, la madre que menciono, durante nuestra visita con el Congreso de Jornaleros, y nos conto su historia.

El esposo de Deliny era abusivo, y cuando ella estaba sufriendo de violencia domestica, decidió sacarlo. El esposo le llamo a la policía para que abriera la puerta. Cuando la policía llego, la cuestionaron sobre su estatus migratorio, la arrestaron, y la metieron a la cárcel. Su bebe tenía 3 meses de nacido, y lo dejaron en la casa. Ella se quedo en la cárcel por 45 días, sin ver a su bebe. La razón que no la dejaron salir es por que no tenía documentos, y el departamento de Sheriff le puso un ICE hold.

Lo que mas me dolió como madre, que ella fue separada de su niño a tan pocos meses de nacido. Después de que ella salió una vez mas fue separada de su hijo, cuando inmigración volvió a visitar a su casa, y una vez mas la detuvo. Eso da coraje. Por esa razón esa mañana fuimos un grupo de mujeres Latinas y Afro-Americanas a visitar a la oficina del Sheriff, para exigirle que nos responda de que lado esta, del lado de la comunidad, o del lado de personas como el propio Sheriff de la ciudad, Joe Arpaio.

Caminamos juntas hacia la oficina, cantando ‘We love everybody in my heart’ o ‘Amo a todo el mundo en mi corazón.’ Nos quedamos fuera de la oficina con folders explicando las diferentes iniciativas alrededor del país de ciudades o condados que se han rehusado a ponerle ICE holds ala gente, como lo es Nueva York y el Condado de Cook en Illinois. Despues de un rato, la esposa del Sheriff salió a escuchar nuestras historias.

Nataly Cruz, madre de Arizona, contó el miedo que siente su comunidad, particularmente de sentir que no van a ver a sus hijos al final del dia, a causa de las acciones de las oficinas de alguaciles y policía. Me gusto que la gente salió a darlos la cara fue su esposa. Al menos ya sabemos quien tiene la ultima palabra. Ella yo se que nos entendió por que ella también es madre.

La unidad fue los mas impresionante como madres Afro-Americanas se unen a la comunidad. Por que no importa el color de tu piel lo que importa es que todos somos iguales. Las mujeres de Nueva Orleans nos dijeron que ahora les toca a ellas continuar la lucha, y las apoyaremos desde Arizona, o donde quiera que estemos.

Vea el video sobre el evento aqui.

Sin papeles y sin miedo visita a los jornaleros de Gretna

 

La jornada por la justicia vistaba a la esquina de los jornaleros de Gretna, formada después de Katrina y por medio de una lucha para el derecho de buscar trabajo. Los jornaleros sigan reconstruyendo la ciudad y buscando una vida mejor.

The ride for justice visited the day laborer corner in Gretna, formed after Katrina and through a struggle for the right to look for work. The day laborers there continue to reconstruct the city and search for a better life.

http://nopapersnofear.org

Filmed by Barni Qaasim
Edited by Jorge Torres

Promotoras de salud con los jornaleros de Gretna

Durante su parada en Nueva Orleans, promotoras de salud de Puente Arizona visitaban a la esquina de jornaleros de Gretna para escuchar de su experiencia, hacer consultas de salud, y promover la vida sana.
 
During the stop in New Orleans, health promoters from Puente Arizona who are riding on the No Papers No Fear ride for justice stopped at the Gretna day laborer corner to hear their stories, do basic health consultations, and promote healthy living.

No One Can Turn Us Around - No Papers No Fear Exchange with Civil Rights Veterans

In New Orleans, the No Papers No Fear ride for justice had a powerful exchange with civil rights veterans hosted by the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice.
 
En Nueva Orleans, la jornada por la justicia sin papeles y sin miedo tenía un intercambio profundo con veteranos del movimiento por los derechos civiles facilitado por el Centro de trabajadores de nueva orleans por la justicia racial.

Mujeres en pié de lucha enfrentan al alguacil de Nueva Orleans

 
El alguacil de Orleans Parish ha sido un colaborador con la migra en detener la gente en su carcel. La jornada por la justicia manifestaba en apoyo de mujeres en Nueva Orleans como Delmy quienes están defendiendo sus derechos civiles y luchando para mantener sus familias unidas. Juntaron con la esposa de alguacil Gusman para exigir que él cancela su colaboración con ICE y rechazan detener la gente cuando ICE pide.
 
The Sheriff of Orleans Parish has colaborated with ICE to detain people in his jails for extra time at immigration enforcement's request. The ride for justice joined a demonstration with New Orleans women like Delmy who have been in his jails and are organizing to defend their civil rights and to keep their families together. They met with Sheriff Gusman's wife and demanded the Sheriff reject ICE hold requests when they ask him to detain people for extra time.

New Orleans: Man-made Disasters and Borders


 


 


The Congress of Day Laborers and Stand with Dignity gave a tour of New Orleans to the No Papers No Fear riders to understand the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

El Congreso de Jornaleros y Stand with Dignity dió una gira de New Orleans para los participantes de la jornada por la justicia para entender la ciudad en el contexto de lo que ha sucedido después de la huracán katrina.

Filmed by Perla Farias
Sound by Jorge Torres
Edited by Jorge Torres, Barni Qaasim and Perla Farias

Justicia para los 32 del Sur, Winning Joaquin's Case




In New Orleans the No Papers No Fear riders rallied with Joaquin and the other day laborers who make up the Southern 32, people facing deportation for defending their civil rights. At the court hearing, the judge recommended Joaquin's case be closed because ICE had not proven itself. Now the Southern 32 are fighting to close the rest of the cases.

En nueva orleans, la jornada por la justicia participaron en una manifestación para apoyar a Joaquin, uno de los 32 del sur quienes están en proceso de deportación solo por defender sus derechos civiles. A su juicio, el juez recomendó que cierre el caso de Joaquin. Ahora, están luchando para cerrar todos los casos.

More information on the Southern 32 at makejusticereal.org and on the No Papers No Fear ride at nopapersnofear.org

Film by Perla Farias
Audio by Jorge Torres
Edited by Jorge Torres

Undocumented Tennesseans Come Out of the Shadows, Welcome ‘No Papers, No Fear’ Caravan

Undocumented immigrants participating in the ‘No Papers, No Fear’ ride will join undocumented Tennesseans in a ‘coming out of the shadows’ event where immigrants will speak publicly about their immigration status and life in the United States, challenge anti-immigrant legislation. The caravan will also welcome six new local riders.

Memphis, TN – The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th, and is travelling across the country to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies. Six undocumented immigrants from Tennessee, including four from Memphis, will be joining the caravan on it’s way to the Democratic National Convention.  

On Tuesday August 14 the No Papers No Fear riders, in coalition with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) will host an event entitled ‘Memphis Unafraid,’ during which undocumented immigrants from Tennessee, Arizona, Illinois, Georgia, and California will ‘come out of the shadows’ to tell their stories publicly. Community members, including workers, mothers and fathers, students, and artists will join the celebration incorporating theater, dance, music and poetry focused on highlighting the injustices caused by a broken immigration system. 

Inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

What: Memphis Unafraid, Coming Out of the Shadows & Cultural Event
Where:  El Mercadito de Memphis, 3766 Ridgeway Rd., Memphis, TN. 38115.
When: Tuesday August 14, 2012; 5:00-9:00 PM
Who: No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRCC), Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, Worker’s Interfaith Network, Communities United Under One Voice, Unitarian Universalists, undocumented immigrants, community members, artist.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

“Undocubus” is riding out of the shadows and towards the Democratic National Convention

Originally published at NBC Latino

Winding its way from Arizona through Texas to Mississippi and Memphis the Undocubus, filled with 30 undocumented immigrants, plans to come to a stop in Charlotte, North Carolina just in time for the Democratic National Convention. The participants hope to draw attention to their belief that both Republicans and the Obama administration have failed in addressing the issue of immigration properly.

“I don’t want politicians to talk about me,” says Gerardo Torres, a volunteer for Puente Arizona, one of the Undocubus organizers, as well as an undocumented and gay immigrant. “If they’re going to talk about us they should let us speak. The people who are actually affected by these laws and all of the hate and the things they’re doing to our community.”

The 10 state trip began on July 29 in Phoenix, Arizona and will end on September 3 in Charlotte. The group has adopted the slogan, “No Papers! No Fear!” which can be seen adorning their bus in English and Spanish.

“We don’t agree with the deportations,” Torres says. “We’re upset with politicians, all of them, and all of the lies they are saying about us. The Republican Party has been so hateful. They act like we’re animals – we’re not animals. Meanwhile, plenty of people are making money from our suffering by putting people in private jails.”

Torres calls himself a “queer person of color” and says he also is on the Undocubus to bring attention to the LGBT issues that immigrants may face.

“Some people have partners who are citizens and they are not able to get papers,” Torres says. “They’re not able to qualify for anything.”

Undocubus participants — who have not encountered any legal issues during their trip thus far — don’t know how they will be received by law enforcement upon making their presence felt in Charlotte, but Torres is one of the people who is open to civil disobedience and getting arrested to draw attention to their cause. He says that while Obama’s new immigration policy for DREAM students is a step in the right direction, “We are 100 percent sure that he and the Democratic party can do better.”

Torres says the time has come for those like him to stand up and be heard.

“We’re no longer fearful of their laws,”  he says.

“We have been living in silence and fear for so long, we’ve had enough. We’re coming out of the shadows in hopes of opening windows and doors for the next generation.”

Recording: We Belong Together and Women from the Undocubus


 


On Tuesday August 14th, the We Belong Together campaign held a phone conversation with women from the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice to hear about their journey coming out of the shadows and challenging sheriffs promoting anti-immigrant policies on their way to North Carolina.

Lecciones de Organización Por Parte de Un Jornalero

Durante nuestra visita a Memphis, Tennesee, Eleazar conto su historia frente a unas 300 personas que atendieron el evento, Memphis Unafraid, o Memphis Sin Miedo. Es la primera vez que cuenta su historia de manera tan detallada, y la a comenzado a usar como una lección que los otros trabajadores tienen que aprender: Que es importante organizarse para luchar en contra de las leyes anti-inmigrantes, y que hay que perder el miedo.

Mi nombre es Eleazar Castellanos, soy jornalero de Tucson, Arizona y soy indocumentado. Hace 16 años que llegue a Tucson acompañado por mi esposa e hija. Mi hija estaba chiquita, y nosotros deseábamos poder superarnos mas y poder darle una buena educación. Nos fue bien en los siguientes años, y casi realizamos el ‘sueño Americano’ de tener casa, trabajo estable.

Nuestra hija empezó la escuela elemental y ahora estaba por graduarse high school. Era lo que mas deseábamos, que se graduara y fuera a la universidad. Pero desgraciadamente en Arizona pasaron la ley 200, y ahora tendríamos que pagar tres veces mas por las clases de nuestra hija para que fuera al college. No nos alcanzó para la universidad. Fue al colegio el primer año tomando dos o tres clases.

El siguiente año perdí mi trabajo y fui de trabajo en trabajo sin conseguir alguno. La implementación de la nueva ley de E-verify había empezado. Por consecuencia nuestra hija solo puedo tomar una clase por semestre. Yo no me di por vencido buscando trabajo y cuando conseguía solo duraba una o dos semanas, o un mes, oir que me decían que checara mis documentos por que algo estaba mal. Pero ya saben el resultado, tenía que buscar otro trabajo. Me pasaba días esperando que me llamaran de algún trabajo, cosa que no sucedió.

Finalmente contra de el miedo que sentía empecé a visitar las esquinas donde los jornaleros se reúnen. Yo sabia que la migra y la policía rondaba esos lugares, a demás de eso, sabia que abusos de patrones que querían que trabajara de sol a sol, con el mas mínimo descanso, y al final del día me querían dar menos del salario acordado o del salario mínimo. O aquel otro patrón que me ofreció la jornada de 8 horas por 40 o 50 dólares, pero nunca falto el jornalero que como yo necesitaba el dinero, y que tenia que aceptar aunque fuera eso así.

Después otra ley por desgracia, la SB 1070 apareció criminalizando a los que pedían trabajo en la calle, haciendo que mi temor creciera. Todos los jornaleros siempre estábamos esperando ver a la policía o la migra para salir corriendo antes de que ellos nos vieran. Dos veces llego la policía y nos corrió. Una vez vimos a la migra y corrimos, y me día cuenta que ya teníamos la ruta de escape. Finalmente una iglesia en el área que fue santuario de refugiados en el pasado, nos ofreció el estacionamiento de ellos para que no estuviéramos en la calle, y nos empezamos a organizar.

Voluntarios ayudaron a educarnos sobre nuestros derechos y saber que podíamos reportar algún abuso, mientras estábamos parados ahí esperando trabajo.

Lo malo fue que el trabajo disminuyo considerablemente, por que después de la SB1070 los patrones también tuvieron miedo, pues de dieron casos que los paraban cuando iban a contratar personas, arrestando o deportando a los trabajadores y multando al patrón por transportar a gente sin documentos.

El trabajo no era suficiente y tenía que sostener a mi familia. Mi hija ya no pudo estudiar, y tuve que tomar cualquier tipo de trabajo. Cuando estaba en mi país nunca pensé que llegaría al grado de hacer trabajos denigrantes en mi persona.

Si no encontraba trabajo en la esquina, me hiba por los callejones, a veces buscando en los botes grandes de basura para encontrar las cosas que pudiera vender o reciclar y asi poder pagar renta o gastos para vivir. Lo malo es que los jornaleros pasaban por la misma situación y muchas personas desesperadas haciendo lo mismo que yo, así que hasta buscar basura era dificil.

Cuando me invitaron a la jornada por la justicia no dude. Sin decir nada a mi familia en las primeras semanas para no preocuparlas. No fue hasta unos días antes de abordar el autobús que se lo dije a mi esposa y a mi hija. Primero fue reacción de sorpresa. No supieron que decir, después fue de reflexión y en los siguientes días conté con todo el apoyo de ellas.

Mi esposa y mi hija sabían que yo podía ser deportado de todos modos en cualquier momento parado en la esquina o saliendo a trabajar, por so que no fuera han vano. Si me deportaban quise que todos aquellos trabajadores que están igual que yo, que no tenga miedo, que sepan que no están solos, que somos millones los que podemos salir de las sombras. Pero tenemos que apoyarnos, organizarnos, y sobre todo educándonos sobre nuestros derechos. Aunque seamos indocumentados, tenemos nuestros derechos que nos permiten ser tratados como seres humanos, y con dignidad. Esa es la razón por la que aborde el autobús en el viaje por la justicia.

Quiero llevarle el mensaje a todos los indocumentados en general de cualquier raza, genero, religión, y a toda la comunidad Americana. Por que no importa si soy de Africa, China, Europa, America o Australia, somos humanos y que en algún momento nuestros derechos civiles serán quebrantados. Entonces salgamos juntos como humanos que piden ser escuchados. Para dejar de ser indocumentados.

Por eso ahora digo, organícense. No dejen que les pase lo que nos a pasado en Arizona. Salgamos de las sombras. No tengo papeles, no tengo miedo.

No Papers No Fear Riders Eligible for Deferred Action to File Applications, Continue Ride for Entire Community Deserving of Relief, Focus on Power of Organizing

 

Memphis, TN – Nine undocumented participants of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice traveling across the southern United States are in the process of gathering the required information to apply for deferred action, the initiative by the Obama administration offering relief from deportation and temporary work permits. Their applications are being supported by attorneys at the Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), an organization which is also launching DREAMerJustice.org, a website designed to increase access to legal resources for low-income people nationally. The website will be available August 15, 2012, the same day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is scheduled to begin accepting applications.

Those who qualify for deferred action have been on the bus ride not only for themselves, but also for their communities.

“I know that it will be a relief to be able to work legally and have a driver’s license, but it is temporary. I also think about my sisters, cousins, my mom and my dad who still have no rights in this country. That is why I’m on the bus, and why I will continue to work for just and permanent solutions,” said Nataly Cruz, 22, from Phoenix Arizona and an organizer with Puente Movement. Cruz has already gathered most of her required documents in preparation for her participation of a civil disobedience in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling trial on July 24th, 2012. She and three other undocumented Arizonans were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor and are awaiting their trial.

Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, 25, is a No Papers No Fear riders and an organizer with the Chicago-based Immigrant Youth Justice League who has been coordinating the collaboration with NIJC, who says that she is applying for deferred action because she trusts in the power of community. “Homeland Security has shown us that they don’t always implement their policies. For example, they are still deporting low-priority immigrants despite the prosecutorial discretion policies, and there will continue to be 400,000 deportations per year. I don’t trust the Department of Homeland Security or the federal government. What I do trust is the power of an organized undocumented community and our allies to keep the government accountable.”

"The National Immigrant Justice Center is proud to support these courageous activists by ensuring they have access to legal counsel so they can protect their rights and the rights of their families during the deferred action application process. Through our expanded services, including DREAMerJustice.org, we will reach thousands of youth across the country in the coming weeks. We encourage DREAMers to discuss their cases with qualified attorneys or legal aid organizations before submitting their applications," said NIJC’s legal director, Mony Ruiz-Velasco.

Those on the bus who do not qualify for the deferred action initiative who are on the bus support the relief that young people are getting, but will continue pushing more. Mari Cruz Jimemez, a No Papers No Fear Rider from Arizona whose children will be applying for the initiative says that she feels both hope and uncertainty, “It’s a light at the end of the tunnel for my children, a first step which came as a result of actions taken by young people. I know that at least temporarily my children will be okay, but it is still separation of families. What will they do if their mother or father gets deported? How will they live without their family’s support? The president has shown us that he has power to address deportations, and he needs to do that for all of us.”

Inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center  is a Chicago-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. For more information visit www.immigrantjustice.org.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

 

Am I My Brothers' Keeper? Common sense in Charlotte

 

The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice aimed to inspire when it took off from Phoenix on the 2nd anniversary of SB1070's implementation. However, Commissioner James' anti-immigrant proposal is not what riders had in mind.  In Mecklenburg County where Charlotte, NC is located and where the Democratic National Convention will be held early next month, the ride inspired the commissioner to introduce a mimic of Alabama-style law turning schools into immigration checkpoints.

By coming out of the shadows as publicly undocumented and telling their stories without fear or apology, riders hope to set an example for the migrant community and to make others understand the crisis taking place because of deportations and unjust immigration enforcement.  As one rider explained, "We confront our fears so that our adversaries confront our humanity."

They fill a leadership vacuum on immigration and insert themselves into the exact debate that took place at the County Commission last night; will we be a people of inclusion or exclusion?

Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James firmly placed himself on the wrong side of history by introducing a bill to imitate Alabama's enjoined law that requires investigation of students' immigration status. The bill had little chance of passing due to the fact that it is both unconstitutional. When reading the Board of Education chair's response to commissioner James, it could be summarized as asking the bill sponsor, 'what part of illegal don't you understand?' Still, the commissioner was determined to bring the bill forward for debate.

While his co-sponsors Bentley and Pendergraph rooted their support in the benign argument that they simply were seeking information not seeking to intimidate, Pendergraph's history in bringing the 287g program that has decimated the civil rights of the migrant community to Charlotte and commissioner James' own remarks of hoping to send a bill to children's country of origin for the cost of their education revealed the undertone of the proposal. The dozens of audience members from the Latin American Coalition, Action NC, and la Familia Unida who showed up carrying bananas to protest the absurdity of the proposal watched as the discrimination and mal-intent inherent in James' effort was revealed and refuted by the rest of the commission.

In the most passionate response of the night, Commissioner Leake explained, "My history will not allow me to see this happen… I think of Brown versus Board of Education and I think how the debate must have sounded much like this. They talked about quality education but they were addressing the racial question. You have put the rat on the table and now you must address it. The question I return to is 'Am I my brothers' keeper?' I am and I will vote no."

While Commissioner Dunlop highlighted the political election year motivations of a proposal designed to be 'red meat thrown to rile up the base,' Commissioner Roberts voted against the bill based on the unintended consequences she foresaw.  Recounting her time in schools she said, "I have talked to six year olds who are afraid to go to school. They have asked me 'am I not a legal human being? Do I not deserve to exist?'" She continued, "I've been with them. I've heard children say this."

And with that, the bill was voted down and the tide in Charlotte turned toward inclusion. As Natally Cruz, a No Papers No Fear rider, has explained, "When we lose our fear, they lose their power." There have always been ugly reactions to marginalized people refusing to be pushed to the margins any longer.  And while Commissioner James' cosponsors may like to say they were simply on a fact-finding mission, his mention that he was motivated by news that 'the undocubus is coming and saying they're not afraid and not going anywhere' revealed that it was a legislative response to a people who have determined to see themselves respected.

The No Papers No Fear riders are excited to arrive in Charlotte to meet with the local community that stood up at the commission last night, who stand up to the risk of deportation every day in Mecklenburg County, and let Commissioner James and anyone else know that they are no longer afraid. 

Instead of responding to the no papers no fear ride with such a wrong-headed approach, the bill's sponsors would do better to listen to Commissioner Leake's closing remarks, "“Don’t ever forget the civil rights movement. Because if you do, it’ll hit you again.”

Memphis no tiene miedo. Memphis has no fear.

 

 

In Memphis, TN the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice welcomed three new riders onto the bus and was greeted by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition with a cultural celebration of theater, art, and poetry to raise our voices and our spirits and let the world know that in Memphis, people are losing their fear.
 
En Memphis recibimos tres nuevos participantes en la jornada por la justicia y participamos en una celebración cultural con TIRRC. Con arte, teatro, y poesía levantamos nuestras voces y dijimos que en Memphis la gente está perdiendo el miedo.
 

National Delegation of Undocumented Migrants Visits Nashville, Undocumented Tennesseans Come Out of the Shadows

Three undocumented immigrants from Tennessee have joined the ‘No Papers No Fear’ caravan on it’s way to the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The delegation includes immigrants from across the country who are students, mothers, fathers, day laborers, community organizers, and families. They join local undocumented families in sharing their stories publicly, and addressing the recent implementation of deferred action for childhood arrivals.

Memphis, TN – The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th, and is travelling across the country to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies. Three undocumented immigrants from Tennessee have joined the caravan on it’s way to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina, and hundreds will participate in ‘coming out of the shadows’ at Nashville community event.

Undocumented immigrants participating in the tour and those organizing locally will also address the recently implemented policy of deferred action for childhood arrivals, for which some of the bus riders qualify.  “I know that it will be a relief to be able to work legally and have a driver’s license, but it is temporary. I also think about my sisters, cousins, my mom and my dad who still have no rights in this country, said Nataly Cruz, 22, from Phoenix Arizona and an organizer with Puente Movement.

Additionally, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed yesterday, August 15, 2012, an executive order designed to deny driver’s licenses and social services to undocumented students who qualify for the policy.  “That is why I’m on the bus, and why I will continue to work for just and permanent solutions,”  concluded Cruz.

Inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home

What: Press Conference, Undocumented youth, riders, local civil rights leaders

Where: Park across the street from Congressman Jim Coopers office, 605 Church Sreet

When: Thursday August 16, 2012; 1:00 PM

Who: Undocumented youth, No Papers No Fear riders, local civil rights leaders

 

What: Undocumented, Unafraid, JUMP, Comite Mujeres Migrantes

Where: La Reyna Salon, 3753 Nolensville Pie

When: Thursday August 16, 2012; 6:00 PM

Who: Undocumented families from Tennessee, No Papers No Fear riders, community organizers.

 

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

Yovany Diaz: The Undocubus Gives Me the Strength to be a Humanitarian

Yovany Diaz is a member of GUYA, the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance and is joining the no papers no fear ride for justice for his mom, his community, and to fight for education in a state that has banned undocumented youth from its universities.

Yovany Diaz, miembro de la alianza de jovenes indocumentados de Georgia se une con la jornada por la justicia por su madre, su comunidad, y para luchar para una educacion en un estado que ha cerrado las puertas de sus universidades a estudiantes indocumentados.

Deferred Action Goes into Effect -NYTimes

Originally Published in the New York Times

At least 1.2 million young undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for a temporary stay of deportation and a work permit beginning today.

This is the enactment of a policy President Obama announced back in June and it applies to younger [undocumented] immigrants with no criminal history who were brought to the country as children.

At the time, President Obama said this new policy was simply the "the right thing to do," but that it also helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement focus on deporting criminals. His opponents said that the president had overstepped his authority by issuing the new policy; they said he had enacted his own so-called DREAM Act without the approval of Congress.

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that immigration lawyers have been inundated with phone calls seeking information. The paper reports:

"Just yesterday alone, said staff at the American Friends Service Committee — a Quaker-based social justice organization — a receptionist in the Newark office fielded 20 phone calls from immigrants with a raft of questions.

"Since Obama announced the program, Amy Gottlieb, director of that American Friends office, said she and her staff have answered another 180 phone calls. What's more, even though the office has an appointment-only policy, it has been giving out information each day to several immigrants who happen to walk in.

"We've gotten 'increasing calls, lots of people asking for information,' Gottlieb said. A good number of those calls, she added, have been from people 'assuming or hoping that it is more than it is — they think it might be some sort of amnesty or a way to get a green card.'"

A group of young immigrants that has undertaken a cross-country bus tour that will end in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention stopped in Memphis, today, where some of them filled out their applications.

Nataly Cruz, 22, was among them.

"I know that it will be a relief to be able to work legally and have a driver's license, but it is temporary," she said in a statement. "I also think about my sisters, cousins, my mom and my dad who still have no rights in this country. That is why I'm on the bus, and why I will continue to work for just and permanent solutions."

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a webpage that details the application process.

UPI spoke to a USCIS spokesman who said applications will likely take "several months to process."

In Admiration: Learning about the Civil Rights Movement

 

Mari Cruz is one of the No Papers No Fear riders coming from Phoenix Arizona. In the last two weeks the bus has traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, visited local civil rights leaders, and learned about the legacy of social justice struggles in these communities.

I had heard about the struggle for civil rights in the 60s but it had never mattered to me. I had not realized that I could learn from the struggle, and that it could apply to the situation that I am in. As an undocumented mother from Arizona, the more that I learn and think about organizing for my community, and what strategies we can use to fight for our rights, the more admiration that I have for the civil rights struggles of the African-American community in the United States, and the more that I want to learn from them.

As we travel through the southern United States, especially through states that have such a rich history of racism against black communities, I have also realized that these are places also of resistance. In New Orleans, we had the chance to talk to organizers from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and how they organized against fear that was felt in their communities, especially when it came to persecution by the police. In Memphis, Tennessee we visited the National Civil Rights Museum  where we were able to learn about the organizing that was being done by Martin Luther King Jr, and the students. And today in Nashville, Tennessee we are talking with people about the organizing behind the lunch-counter sit-ins and the role that young people played. At each place, I have been inspired by the strength and work of the communities, and I have taken notes as to what we as an immigrant rights movement can learn.

At the National Museum of Civil Rights History I was interested in the story of the participation of the students. It struck me how they used to have to pay a $500 fee to be a part of the group. They paid fees to be able to have money for their campaigns to register voters in the south, to pay for medicine if they were hurt during actions. If we were to do that ourselves, we would be able to do much more, raise our own money for what we need to do. They paid themselves everything, for training, for protests, or to travel. They were supporting themselves.

I also was interested in what the Ku Klux Klan was doing. It was a group that used their power and violence to intimidate people, and to make them feel fear. They are a part of history as people who wanted the African-American community to not take action. It made me think of how anti-immigrants make our people feel scared too. We are all supposed to be free to walk around, supposedly a free country. But they have denied us that right in this country, and not just to immigrants, but to other communities as well. They deny us our dreams, our careers. The people in the KKK are like the people who are anti-immigrants, the people who want to make us feel fear.

While I am looking at the pictures and learning about the history, I feel like I am living those same moments right now.  Each picture, each song, each protest, is being reflected in the work that I do. It’s similar to what we are fighting now. Without knowing, I think we are forging a similar path to the one fought for 50 years ago. African-Americans stood up for their rights, they came together with their white allies, and have been able to make gains. Although I understand that there is still a lot left to fight for, I believe one day we will all be equal, including immigrants.

I also know that it wont be an easy path. Another thing I have seen from the civil rights struggle was how much violence they had to face, including beatings, police dogs, bombs.  And they remained dignified and peaceful in the face of this violence. I know that it might have to be part of our struggle one day too, and I would do it with the same dignity and pride that students and others in the civil rights struggle faced. And with love, because I know that will make me stronger, to keep going forward. I know I need to learn, just like the students in the 60s did, about thinking about my community, my dignity, and to never forget about my principles.

It is very important to learn about the history of the civil rights movement. When I go home, I want to tell my children, and the other young people I work with about what I learned, about the strategies they used, and talk about how each of our groups have participated in civil disobedience. I’m going to tell them about how much I identified with the history of discrimination, and the history of struggle, of working with the community.

I got a call from my son yesterday, and I told him about the visit to the museum, and what I had learned about the student movement and Martin Luther King Jr. He told me he was proud of me. I also feel proud of myself, because as I have traveled on this bus I have learned so much and changed. I have been able to give more than I thought I could give to my community. I feel stronger every day. 

'No papers, no fear': immigrants declare on bus tour - NBCNews.com

Originally published at US NEWS/NBCNews.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- They are in the United States illegally, and they are tired of hiding.

Over the past few weeks, a group of nearly 40 housekeepers, day laborers, students and immigration activists has been making its way across the country in a ragtag caravan, chanting “no papers, no fear” and proudly declaring “I’m undocumented” in public gatherings.

The riders are not legally in the U.S., a point they want everyone they meet to know. They are on the bus tour, dubbed the “undocubus,” to highlight their plight and to challenge their anti-immigrant foes in the ongoing national debate on immigration.

“We want to live in equality like everyone else, and that's why we have taken this risk. We have confronted fear of potentially being arrested, but we believe that it is worth fighting,” said El Salvadorean Jose  Mangandi, a day laborer living in Los Angeles who is raising his 3-year-old son on his own after his wife was deported. “We have customs, we have cultures. We want to share this with this country, and those who criticize us and who hate us, we invite you to get to know us.”

Mangandi was one of the group’s members who spoke at a press conference Thursday in a Nashville park across from the public library, where they had just finished hearing a talk on Civil Rights movement protests, such as the local lunch counter sit-ins that led to desegregation.

Their tour, which began in Arizona, has made stops in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Along the way, the riders have met Civil Rights-era activists, some of them have been arrested during protests, and they’ve held talks with immigrant groups to exchange ideas on how to prevent deportation.

“I think it’s important to create dialogue and when I say, ‘I’m undocumented,’ I’m also welcoming others to say their stories, too, and (to) not be afraid,” said Isela Mares, a 29-year-old Mexican living in Phoenix, who noted she was just becoming comfortable using the term “undocumented.” “I feel that it’s our responsibility … to let the people know what we are going through so that they also, you know, find that connection.”

Bob Miller / for NBC News

Jose Mangandi, 50, is a day laborer from Los Angeles. "We believe that the struggle for dignity and justice is one that belongs to all fathers and children," Mangandi said. "We're not enemies of this country. We love this country. It is our home and that's why we do not want to be separated from our children who were born here."

Though their flagship bus painted with the words, “No papers, no fear,” on it in Spanish and English broke down in New Orleans, they’ve carried on with vans and a minibus. They hope the bus will soon re-join the trip.

Organizers came up with the concept of a bus tour in the spring. It was born out of the notions that “undocumented people can speak for themselves” and “undocumented people should be able to choose their own risks,” said Tania Unzueta Carrasco, 28, an organizer with the Immigrant Justice League helping to handle press relations on the trip.

“I think that’s … a big change for a lot of us. I think for a long time immigrant rights organizations had been very protective of undocumented immigrants, just the whole idea of … ‘I will get arrested for you, I will take the risk for you,’” she said. “For a lot of us who are undocumented, it’s like, ‘I don’t want you to do anything for me … I want to be able to … choose for myself what I’m doing.’”

The group has their opponents, though they haven’t been turning out in large numbers. One woman showed up at a Nashville event wearing an anti-immigration t-shirt, but she kept her distance, organizers say.

“They’re illegal immigrants advertising the fact and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) needs to pull them over and detain them,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center of Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports tighter immigration controls. “I mean, it’s as simple as that. … you can’t arrest every illegal immigrant but it seems to me advertising your illegality ought to be reason enough for you to be detained and removed from the country as a priority and the fact that they’re not is outrageous.”

The riders met with lawyers before they left to learn what the potential consequences of an arrest could be. For some, it could mean deportation. Eleazar Castellanos, who already was forced to leave the U.S. once before, shortly after he came here 16 years ago, thinks he would be forced out again.

On the group's journey to Nashville from Memphis late Wednesday, Castellanos said he had been trying to find work as day laborer since losing his job putting in countertops years back. At times, he hasn’t even had enough money to get gas to look for work or to put food on the table, he said as he wiped away tears.

Castellanos hid these struggles from his wife and 22-year-old daughter until four days before the trip, which was also the first time he told them he was going to be on the “undocubus.” They were shocked to learn of his decision, but eventually decided it was the right thing to do, despite the risks.

"I don’t care, because anyway, every time I’m exposing myself (while) looking for work, and anytime the police can stop me or the immigration and they can deport me,” he said. “So in case that happens to me I want it to be for something good … I’m not afraid anymore. If I know my rights probably I have the chance to fight back and let the people know to come out of the shadows and not be afraid.”

Bob Miller / for NBC News

Sisters Ireri and Tania Unzueta Carrasco sit outside of the Workers Dignity headquarters in Nashville, TN. "Undocumented people should be able to choose their own risks," said Tania Carrasco.

Nine of the riders are applying for the government's new "deferred action" policy, under which certain young immigrants in the country illegally can get a two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation. While some are grateful for the initiative, seen as a bid by the president to provide some relief since the Dream Act -- immigration reform legislation -- stalled in Congress, others said it didn't go far enough.

Their ride ends in Charlotte, N.C., at the Democratic National Convention, where they intend to convey this message.

“I think it’s important for people within the undocumented community to find some kind of technique that can have some success in increasing the pressure on the political process and on Obama and on the Democrats,” said Gary Gerstle, a professor of American history and an expert in social movements at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “I think in order for more to happen there has to be more of an immigrant rights movement and there has to be more of a human rights movement in the U.S., and in thinking about how that might happen, I think the ‘undocubus’ is innovative and has a chance of making a difference and it fits within a broader history of non-violent peaceful protest.”

Though there are more experienced activists in the group, a number of them are for the first time putting themselves out on the front line.

One of them is Maria Cruz Ramirez, who brought her three children to the U.S. for better economic and education opportunities in 2001. Life has been difficult since the tighter immigration law in Arizona was passed, she said, with her husband narrowly evading an immigration raid in Phoenix.

After she saw her two of her daughters get arrested protesting earlier this year, she decided she needed to act.

“They stood up for themselves and fought for their own rights and dignity,” she said, at times wiping away tears. “I’m fighting for them and everyone else ... for the mothers who don’t want to or can’t or don’t know how to support their children. I want to represent all of those mothers and those young people.”

Many spoke of their journey on the bus as creating a family. They share hugs and laughs, dance while some in the group play congas, and play sports together. They clap and cheer after the declarations of their legal status.

“Sometimes, I feel a little nostalgic when I’m alone. But when I’m with the group, I laugh and my whole attitude changes ... because the group gives support and love,” Mangandi said after the press conference. “We know the bus is our house and what we share there is the family we have made.”

 

Juan Jose Mangandi: Our Best Kept Secret is Our Own Community's Strength

 

Juan Jose Mangandi is an artist and playwright who works as a day laborer in California.  He joined the no papers no fear ride for justice to confront rejection and inspire pride within the migrant community.
 
Juan Jose Mangandi es un artista, escritor de teatro y trabaja como jornalero en California. Participa en la jornada por la justicia para confrontar el desprecio de los migrantes y inspirar orgullo dentro la misma comunidad.
 

 

Fearless and Speaking for Ourselves

Yesterday was one of the most important days of my life. It gave me the opportunity to speak to the people who are directly hurting our community. I, and three of my fellow No Papers No Fear riders - Mari Cruz Jimenez, Maria Huerta, and Jose Mangandi - stood up during the testimony of Kris Kobach, the author of SB 1070, while he was addressing the United States Commission on Civil Rights, testifying on the effects of state immigration laws. He was sitting at the table like an expert, when we know there is no one who knows the effects of immigration laws in our communities better than undocumented immigrants. We had not been included as part of the group to testify, so we stood up, uninvited, and told our stories.

I remember sitting there and listening to Kobach speak about the importance of SB 1070, and how people who were not doing anything wrong should have nothing to fear. He said that the law did not lead to racial profiling, or to fear. Meanwhile, I remember thinking about the fear and anger that I have felt, and seeing my neighborhood change. Every day in Arizona, I see people leave their homes out of fear of the immigration laws in our state. There are abandoned homes, empty lots, closed stores, and people displaced. I see children with fear, mothers crying, and people without freedom to move around freely in their own neighborhoods.

I stood up and held up a sign that read “undocumented.” I told them my name, my age, that I am from Arizona, and that I am undocumented, and that I am not afraid. I told them about my community, and how I have experienced the effects of SB 1070. Everyone was looking at me, but I don’t remember. It was like tunnel vision, I couldn’t see anything around me. It was surreal and powerful. I remember feeling like I was taking away the power that they had taken from me, without me knowing that I had lost it. The power to defend myself and speak for myself.

After I got up, my fellow No Paper No Fears riders did the same thing. Maria Cruz told them that they had violated her rights, that she was standing up for her children. Jose told them that he loves this country, that we are human. Maria called them out on being corrupt, and told them her story, and how her children had suffered under immigration laws.

Security came for the three of them first, and I was left alone in the room for what seemed for ever, but was a few minutes. Kobach refused to continue talking while I was in the room, and the Commissioners and presenters discussed back and forth whether this was a peaceful protest. Someone called us hateful. But we knew we were speaking out for our rights.

I must admit that I did feel scared when I was standing there by myself. I didn’t know how the security officer was going to react. I though that if I was by myself, they would treat me worst than my friends. But I think when they realized that what I was doing was speaking for my rights, and that I was not scared. I think the moment we rise up in public, they realize that they no longer have power.  The security officer escorted us out of the hotel, where all four of us then continued telling our side of the story to our media and the press.

I should also say that being part of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, and knowing our history, has been important. I have seen how as people who are queer, we have learned to speak from our experience, for ourselves. I think of people like Harvey Milk, who has taught us that we can be politicians, and come out, and demand to be accepted as who we are; Bayard Rustin, who shows us that we can be great organizers and part of amazing movements for change, to fight for our civil rights; Chavela Vargas, who never hid her love for other women in her song and art, and was never afraid to be herself; and Frida Kahlo, reminding me to have love for art, and to express ourselves through painting, to live without fear, without shame, and spread peace. They have left us a great legacy, that we have an obligation to carry on and pass on to new generations.

I am ready for a second round. This experience has prepared me to be more fearless. If I used to look at things through the window, I now know that I can open the door and walk out.

At the end of the hearing, I was able to walk back into the meeting with the rest of the No Papers No Fear riders. It was great to be able to witness the hearing, and even contribute, after being excluded and escorted out. One person from Alabama, and one person from Arizona were in the end given a space to testify in front of the panel. We at least got a corner at the table. I hope that very soon we can be at the center of that table, at the same level as the rest.

Eleazar: Para abrir las puertas que le han sido cerradas

Eleazar Castellanos es padre jornalero de Arizona quien subió a la jornada de la justicia porque juntos podemos lograr algo mejor por nosotros y nuestros hijos. Después de ver que su hija no podría seguir estudiando en la universidad y después de perder su propio trabajo por las leyes de Arizona, decidió hacer algo mas para abrir las puertas que le han sido cerradas.

Eleazar is a father and day laborer who is on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice because together we can accomplish something larger. After seeing his daughter unable to continue her studies and after losing his own job because of the laws in Arizona, he decided to be part of the journey to open the doors that have become closed to him and his community.

Chela: For the Undocumented, Freedom is not Free


A poem by rider, Isela Meraz

They pushed us out. We came back stronger. They let us in.

As we began the early morning drive to Alabama from Tennessee, we all felt nervous.  This was our first action in Alabama, the only state to have harsher laws than Arizona.  Knowing that people with power were inside, we thought that maybe we had a big chance to get arrested. When we do actions in Arizona, we have a lot of community behind us.  Here, we thought it would not be the same. 

As we crossed the state border into Alabama we saw the photo of Gerardo from the morning action, where he and three other of our fellow riders interrupted Kris Kobach's testimony, and it gave us energy to follow through with our plans.  We got off the bus – la luna, which we had converted in to a Department of Homeland Security vehicle and began our skit:

As we watched the “ice agent” abuse Ferando and Gloria, the rest of us waiting in line to be “detained” began to organize.   We started yelling, “we’re not going to take this anymore, ya basta! Not one more person is going to be treated this way!”  We wanted to show how immigration abuses their power by hitting people, screaming at people and treating us like animals and the importance of organizing together in order to resist. 

We went and got Fernando and Gloria from “jail” and then took off our handcuffs, threw them on the floor, and ripped off our jail shirt to show our butterfly shirts underneath while a banner dropped behind us that said “No Papers No Fear Journey For Justice”, turning the bus back once again into a vehicle for justice.

 

We then freed monarch butterflies to show how they are free and that they have no borders because in the end of the day, that’s what we want – to be free. 

That’s when we felt the most energy, everyone chanting with us.   But at the same time we felt angry knowing that they were inside making decisions about things that affect our communities every day.  They don’t even think about how it’s going to affect us, about those that are actually impacted.  

That gave us the strength to keep going, so when Chela started walking to the entrance of the hotel shouting, we all followed her.  Security tried to refuse to let us in, but we persisted.  They closed the doors in our faces and began to push us out.  We sat down on the floor right in the entrance, with the rest of the crowd right behind us.  They continued to push us, but we stayed strong.  We wanted to make our point that we as undocumented people should be let in to a briefing about laws that will directly affect our communities. 

Eventually Commissioner Yaki heard that we were being refused entrance and told security to allow us to enter.   By the time we sat down in the briefing room – all of us in our white butterfly shirts – we were the majority of the audience.  Yaki asked that all stand who were refused entry.  “Si se puede!” he said.   We raised our fist in the air and repeated after him.  It was really powerful to see all of us in there together. 

We won the right to have the final word, giving us the opportunity to tell them that we’re here, we’re not criminals, and that we’re doing this because we don’t have another choice.   In fact, we suffered a lot to get here.  But all they see is that we’re criminals  They kept calling us "illegal aliens."  But we’re not illegal or aliens.  We’re human beings.

They have to be in our shoes – they have to realize how these policies affect us every day.  How would they feel if their kids had to worry every day if their parents were going to come home every night?   Instead of doing meetings they need to be in the community talking to people who are actually affected.  People testified and said that they have cases where parents were deported and their kids put in foster care.  

But we are the people directly affected, they need to talk to us!  It was a good opportunity to show them that while they’re making decisions on our behalf, we have something to say about it.  This was one of the first times we’ve seen undocumented people be able to go inside and speak and that was really exciting. It turns out, we did have community in Alabama.

Photos by Margot Seigle.

Ganando el derecho de hablar por nosotros mismos: Winning the Right to Speak for Ourselves

The US Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing in Alabama on the impact of state-based immigration laws. They invited the author of SB1070 and the sponsor of Alabama's hate law.

Kris Kobach can't testify about the impact of immigration laws. Undocumented people can. Riders from No Papers No Fear interrupted his speech until they were escorted out. We came back stronger and demanded we be included. By not backing down, we won our inclusion for the day.

Si No Nos Invitan, Nos Invitamos Solos: No Papers No Fear Protest in Alabama

The US Commission on Civil Rights held a briefing in Alabama on the impact of state-based immigration laws. They invited the author of SB1070 and the sponsor of Alabama's hate law.

Kris Kobach can't testify about the impact of immigration laws. Undocumented people can. Riders from No Papers No Fear interrupted his speech until they were escorted out.

Maria Huerta: trabajadora de hogar. Making the Invisible Visible

Maria Huerta es una trabajadora de hogar de la organización Mujeres Unidas y Activas en California, participando en la jornada por la justicia para hacer visible la humanidad de los trabajadores migrantes quienes están en el país exigiendo sus derechos.

Maria Huerta is a domestic worker from Mujeres Unidas y Activas en California participating in the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice to make visible migrants workers struggling to assert their rights in this country.

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.

People began to leave around us. My brother and my sister in law left the state, and they would ask me why I was staying. My children were being asked at school the same things, and they would watch the news and hear about the situation of undocumented immigrants. My son even asked me, “Mom, am I undocumented?” At that time Christmas was getting near, my son’s birthday too, and they were also wondering where we would be spending the holidays, and it would break my heart.

As a family, we always talk about everything, and so one day we sat around the table and talked about it. My husband and I gave our children options: We have family in California and Nevada. But they said, “No mom, my family is here, my friends are here, and our football team.” I asked around, “Do you want to go?” and each time the answer was “No. Until they kick us out.” We decided that we would stay, we would take precautions but we would stay, because this is our home.

So we decided to stay, and I though, if we stay, we are going to do something. We can’t stay here with our hands crossed. We have to try to succeed, and to me success is the success of my children, so I fight for them. And as long as we are here, we will fight for our future, our dignity, and the making of a Tuscaloosa where we all have rights.

I started to look for ways to tell my story. I wrote down my thoughts and gave them to a local organization that was forming. But then they called me and told me there would be a three day training to learn how to organize. I told my family about it, and they supported my involvement.

Although I have always defended myself, I don’t like talking about myself or my family’s problems in public. But I also don’t like to remain quiet. I cannot stay quiet when I see that our rights are being stepped on. Those in the legislature need to know that they are not dealing with numbers, but with people and families. Our own community needs to organize, and learn about their rights, and learn to lose fear. That is why I’m telling my story today. 

Undocumented Tuscaloosans Speak About Surviving Tornadoes, Exclusion in Schools, HB 56, and Deportations; Welcome No Papers No Fear Caravan

Tuscaloosa, AL (August 20, 2012) – On the anniversary of the first action by community immigrant rights group Somos Tuskaloosa, undocumented immigrants living in Tuscaloosa will come out of the shadows and tell their stories of surviving the implementation of HB 56, increased deportations, and and the 2011 wave of tornadoes. The demonstration will include declarations and stories by the national delegation of undocumented immigrants traveling with the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, currently making its way through Alabama.

“The tornado and the implementation of HB 56 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. But my family and I have decided to stay here, because this is our home, and as long as we are here we will fight for our future, our dignity, and the making of a Tuscaloosa where we all have rights,” said Trini Garcia, an undocumented immigrant living in Alabama for the last 15 years, an organizer with Somos Tuskaloosa, and one of the speakers at tomorrow’s event.

The press conference and rally will take place on the first day of school, significant because many undocumented immigrants are excluded by the requirement of a social security number. Participants will also be protesting the increased targeting of Latino and immigrant communities by local police enforcement collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and exposing the negative effects of HB 56. They will also be addressing how organizing and coming out of the shadows creates safer communities.

The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB 1070, July 29th, and is travelling across the country to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies. Inspired by actions of undocumented youth that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

What: Press conference and coming out of the shadows event

When: Monday August 19, 2012, 4:30 PM

Where: In front of the U.S. Federal Court House (2005 University Boulevard)

Who: Undocumented immigrants working with Somos Tuskaloosa and the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, community supporters.

Visuals: Banners and signs painted by community members, art about immigration, mini bus part of caravan

Watch on Live Stream at ustream.tv/channel/undocubus

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @Undocubus on twitter for updates.

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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.

Additionally, building managers have also failed to address seriously deteriorating conditions in the apartments where most of these workers live.  The tenants have complained of bedbugs and cockroaches – none of these have been taken seriously. When apartments flooded in recent rains, tenants were told they had only 7 days to leave. When they requested a transfer to other, empty, apartments, management refused. 

Most recently, tenants held a meetings to discuss the situation. The next day they were given eviction letters in retaliation for organizing.

No Papers No Fear Riders are arriving in Hoover tomorrow morning to support the workers. The No Papers No Fear ride was inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

 

What: Day laborers in Hoover speaking out for their rights as workers, as tenants, and as human beings with the right to make a living.

When: August 21, 2012, 7:30 am

Where: 3400 Treeline Court, Hoover, AL

Who: Day laborers in Hoover, No Papers No Fear riders, organizers from National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network (NDLON).

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates

Homestead Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo

Nuestros amigos en Homestead, FL están planeando un evento para salir de las sombras:

26 de Agosto.
10:30am
La Michoacana


RSVP en Facebook 

sin papeles y sin miedo"No vamos a pedirle disculpas a nadie por querer un futuro mejor y no vamos a quedarnos callad@s mientras vemos que nuestras familias están siendo separadas y nuestras comunidades atacadas y criminalizadas!

Y tal como lo dijo nuestro querido miembro de WeCount! Jose Delgado, " No le debemos nada a este país...este país nos debe a nosotros!" Es hora que salgamos de las sombras y que luchemos por una vida justa y digna!

Ven a escuchar nuestras historias en la primera demostración pública para Salir de Las Sombras en Homestead! ¿Por qué “salir de las sombras”? Porque estamos cansad@s de vivir con miedo. Porque en esta sociedad se nos define por el hecho de no tener “papeles” en vez de vernos como seres humanos.

También mandaremos todo nuestro amor y apoyo a los compas que están recorriendo el país en autobús, a través de los estados clave en la parte sur de los Estados Unidos. Los corredores son personas indocumentadas procedentes de todo el país, incluyendo estudiantes, padres y madres, niños, personas en proceso de deportación, jornaleros y otros que siguen enfrentando la deportación, el acoso y la muerte, mientras que simplemente buscan una vida mejor. SON NUESTRA GENTE! También estamos apoyando a los jóvenes de la Florida que están luchando por sacar a NUESTRAS FAMILIAS de los centros de detención de la migra!

Como comunidad migrante y aliados levantaremos nuestras voces! Unete! Te esperamos!"

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.

The first day we were there I heard the stories of the workers. They had been gathering outside these apartments looking to get hired for the last 6 years. Many of them lived in the apartment complexes as well, where the living conditions had been deteriorating. Most of them were immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and many of them were indigenous, and didn’t speak fluent Spanish, and less English. It was hard for them to communicate and defend themselves.

 I got to see one of the apartments, where I was taken by one of the day laborers, German. It was a two-floor, small apartment, where the walls were covered in mold and small red and black dots. He told me the dots were from killing insects, their bodies and blood left on the wall. The water from the bathroom, on the second floor, routinely leaks through the living room ceiling. In the second floor there is also a bedroom. The ceiling of the bedroom is missing a bit segment, about 4 feet by 4 feet, which fell on top of German’s bed.

A few months ago many had decided to leave their apartments and look for better housing, but the building administration had told them that their complaints would be addressed, and that they should sign for one more year. Many did, but time passed and the apartments were not being fixed, and slowly they realized that their complaints were being ignored by the administration. When they would go to the office, the administrator would turn his back, and pretend he couldn’t hear them.

Meanwhile, the police began to come by and kick them off the property while they were looking for work. They would leave the property, which they were told was private, and head out to the sidewalk. There, they were told by the police that they could not look for work there either, and some neighbors would even call the police. Some were arrested, and of those who were arrested, at least two had been turned over to immigration. One had paid a large fine, and has to go back to court. The other had a prior immigration history, and he was not given the chance to go in front of a judge, and he got deported. This had created even more fear amongst from the police.

The plan after the first meeting was to talk to others in the apartment complex and other tenants, to see if they would like to do something together. They passed out flyers to everyone, and agreed to have a larger meeting on Sunday.

When we showed up on Sunday there were some 50 people at the beginning of the meeting, and over 70 by the time we ended. We met inside the apartment complexes, so as to not be out in the street. Some half an hour into the meeting, right after we had begun to share with people about their rights in front of the police and for fair living conditions, the police came by. Right away the workers began to talk about leaving, scared, but we told them they should stay, and we accompanied them in having a conversation with the police. The police officer told us that those who lived in the apartment could stay, but that everyone else had to go, even if we had been invited. So we went across the street to meet in the parking lot, and continued our meeting. It was a significant moment though, because for many of them it was the first time that they saw that they didn’t have to run away from the police.

When we started the meeting in the parking lot, at first people didn’t want to speak. But little by little, people began to talk about their stories. One family came by, telling us that they too used to live at the apartments, but that when they began to complain about the conditions, and instead of fixing, they were told to leave. They were there to help organize. We heard stories like this one over the next two hours, and towards the end asked people how they wanted to organize and respond. They told us they wanted a change in the management, good living conditions, and a change in the building administration. I shared with them that the only thing they could do is organize, form a worker’s committee. They agreed, and said they wanted to hold a public event and protest against the abuses and for the right to work. That night we went back to Tuscaloosa, AL, where the rest of the No Papers No Fear riders were, and we told them the plan asking also for their support.

On Tuesday August 21st, No Papers No Fear riders went on Tuesday to support the workers. We got there and there were about 15 workers. One van came by to ask for painters, and the workers told them that today was not the day, today they would protest.  We lined up outside in the sidewalk and began to talk about the stories. I stayed behind, because I saw that people stayed behind, some hiding. I asked them if they knew what the protest was about, and I explained it to them. Some would say that they were waiting for work, but I think they were scared.

I saw two women towards the back of the apartment complex, one of whom was carrying her child. One told me that she had lived there before, and that she too had been kicked out. I don’t know where the words came to me from, but I tried to convince them. Slowly, they started walking towards the protest, and got pretty close. Although they didn’t make it all the way, they were part of the group. I then asked them if they would be interested in telling their stories to our media crew, and at first they said no, but then I told them how important it was for them to speak out, because they had experienced abuse, and that they managers wanted to intimidate them, but that they had a right to fair work and good housing conditions. I told them that I was on the bus, that I was undocumented, and that we needed people like us to come out and declare that we had rights. They walked with me, and shared their stories.

There was a moment when we were standing at the protest when I first saw the police that I felt hessitation. The police officer was walking towards me, and my first instinct was to walk away. But instead I stood firm, holding my sign, remembering that I too had to show others that I would be okay. So I just stood there holding my sign. The police came, and just told us we had to stay on the side walk.

This experience strengthened my belief in the work that we are doing. It was a moment of inspiration to know that they too needed to face fear, and that by sharing what we knew about our rights as workers, day laborers, undocumented immigrants, and people, we were sharing tools for them to defend themselves and become unafraid. It gave me more energy to continue to come out of the shadows, and tell people our stories, and continue to show that unity is power.

Pictures by Fernando Lopez.

Traveling to Georgia as U.S. Court Affirms Rights of Police to Verify People’s Immigration Status

The federal appeals court ruled that Georgia law enforcement may check the immigration status of those who fail to produce ‘proper’ identification, as the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, a group of undocumented immigrants publicly speaking about their status, arrives to work with local communities.

Tifton, GA – Yesterday the United States federal appeals court ruled in favor the section in Georgia’s HB 87, affirming the right of local law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if they are suspected of a crime or fail to produce proper identification. The ruling also blocked several provisions considered violation of constitutional rights and undermining of the powers of the federal government, including the making it a crime to transport, “induce or entice” undocumented immigrants to travel to the state.

The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th, and is travelling across the country to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies. While in Georgia, they will be visiting members of theComites Populares (CPG) in Tifton, Warner Robins, and Atlanta, relating to Secure Communities programs, deportations, access to education, deferred action, and detention of undocumented immigrants.

Calendar of No Papers No Fear Events in Georgia

What: Press conference and cultural event in Tifton, GA
When: Wednesday August 22, 2012; 6:00-8:30 pm. Press conference at 6:00 PM.
Where: 1205 Love Avenue, Tifton, GA, 31794

What: Press conference and cultural event in Warner Robins, GA
When: Thursday August 23, 2012; 6:00-8:30 pm. Press conference at 6:00 PM.
Where: 300 South David Rd, Warner Robins, GA. 31088

What: No Papers No Fear rally and press conference
When: Friday August 24, 2012; 2:00-3:00 pm
Where: Atlanta Detention Center, 254 Peachtree Street SW, Atlanta, GA. 30303

What: Public testimonies and cultural event
When: Saturday August 25, 2012; 2:00-5:00 PM
Where: 4166 Buford Hwy NW Atlanta, GA, 30303

The No Papers No Fear ride was inspired by actions of undocumented young people, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates. Selected bios of participants for the No Papers No Fear Justice Ride attached below.

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.

Chela: Something I mentioned at the Senator’s office after we walked over the bridge was that the government had been more violent towards the African American movement in the 60s and since then they has changed their tactics of how they keep the oppressed oppressed.   

Today, they’re calling us illegals, as if that is a crime, and using that to legitamize their actions.  Nosotros como immigrants, we as immigrants, are now negotiating the public services – we can’t get state licenses, financial aid, or stable jobs without social security numbers.  At the same time, they are arresting undocumented people for their own benefit, putting them in private prisons, and making them work for very little money while they profit off the backs of these workers.

Maria: For me one of the most interesting things was when the women talked about how people from the north sent clothing and shoes to their families in the south.

Chela:  The women told us a story about how she had gone to a shoe store to buy shoes for her daughter and tried on a pair without asking.  They didn’t fit, but the store owner told her that even though they didn’t fit her she needed to buy them because no one else was going to buy them after someone of color had tried them on.

Maria:  I don’t understand how people were so inhumane to a child.  The child just needed shoes.  For this reason it was really important that families from the north sent packages.  

Chela: When she was talking about sending stuff from north, it brought back memories of when I was 6.  I remember when my uncles used to travel to the US and send us these big boxes full of present from the north.  We would get so excited and have a big potluck when they arrived.  We’d open up the box and each of us would get a few things.    

Maria: I also liked how the Senator shared his story with us.  They asked us if we would support them in March 2013 when they are having a gathering to bring the black and brown community together.  I always say how beautiful it would be if we had more communication between our communities.  Right now, there are a lot of stereotypes on both sides.  I think there would be less problems if we tried to work together.  There are many ways we can support each other.

Chela: It’s important to me to be able to bring more awareness to the community and for us to see the similarities between the struggle back then and now so we can come together and no longer be segregated by the system that is keeping us separated. 

Maria:  The overall message we got from the people there was to connect – to form un Puente, a bridge – between our community and the African American community. Because in the end, our struggles one. 

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."

At a "No Papers, No Fear" rally in Alabama earlier this week, undocumented mother Trini Garcia told Ramirez and other participants about her travails against last year's lethal combination of the devastating tornado and punitive immigration laws. A 15-year resident in Alabama, Garcia noted:

"I cannot stay quiet when I see that our rights are being stepped on. Those in the legislature need to know that they are not dealing with numbers, but with people and families. Our own community needs to organize, and learn about their rights, and learn to lose fear. That is why I'm telling my story today."

As in Georgia's mixed decision, the infamous "show me your papers" 2B clause in Arizona's SB 1070,upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, is now back in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week over challenges of violations of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause and the Fourth Amendment's search and seizure clause.

preliminary injunction remains in effects on the 2B clause, which stipulates that law enforcement must make a "reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally."

"From raids in the workplace, to daily traffic stops over minor issues," Ramirez said, the 2B "papers please" clause allows for discriminatory violations against Latinos targeted by the SB 1070 immigration law. "Because of the color of your skin, your neighborhood, every step of your life, with 2B in effect we never know what will happen."

Over half of the estimated 10 million undocumented adults in the U.S. have children, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis. A recent study by the Applied Research Center, "Shattered Families," found that "at least 5,100 children are currently living in foster care who are prevented from uniting with their detained or deported parents."

A number of civil rights groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Immigration Law Center and the ACLU, have brought the new legal challenge back to Judge Susan Bolton, who issued the initial injunction against SB 1070 two years ago.

Ramirez said the UndocuBus, organized by Arizona human rights group Puente and other civil rights advocates, has received an outpouring of support from communities across the Southwest and South.

"We're educating people, and letting them know that people are fighting these laws in every state," Ramirez said. "That we are not afraid to come out of the shadows."

Headed for the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, Ramirez added that their message, ultimately, was also aimed at President Obama and his Democratic Party.

"We want President Obama to keep his promise for immigration reform," she said. "It's time to keep that promise for all families."

This post was originally published on the Huffington Post blog.

Fighting back against ICE Holds

Mientras estabamos en Memphis, TN, compatimos con la comunidad un entrenamiento sobre como luchar en contra del uso de 'ICE holds' - cuando la policia detiene a la gente mientras espera si inmigración los detiene. Estas son algunas reflecciones de ese taller.

While we were in Memphis, TN, we shared with local community an training on how to fight against ICE holds, the practice of local police to detain undocumented immigrants while Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) considers deportation. These are some reflections about the workshop.

'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.

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.

Read Eleazar Castellano’s reflections on that meeting here. 
Lee las reflecciones de Eleazar Castellanos, jornalero de Tucson y participante en la Jornada por la Justicia aqui
.

Video Credits/ Creditos: Filmed by Perla Farias and Jorge Torres. Edited by Jorge Torres. 

Undocumented mom risks life in US to join immigration fight

Maria Cruz Ramirez, one of several undocumented immigrants traveling across the country on the "undocubus," protests during a briefing on the civil rights effects of state immigrations law held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Birmingham, Ala., on August 17, 2012.

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.

“I’m fighting for them and for everyone else, for my community, for the mothers who don’t want to or can’t or don’t know how to support their children,” she said. “I want to represent all of those mothers and all of those young people.”

As a minibus shuttled her and other undocumented immigrants on a nighttime ride last week through the South, a touring protest called the “undocubus,” Ramirez recalled her family’s journey to the U.S.

They came here like many others, seeking better opportunities. She wanted her children to go to good schools and learn two languages. Her husband, Eugenio Sanchez, said it would be a step up from their life back home. They entered the country on tourist visas, which they overstayed, Ramirez said.

But as her two oldest children, Hugo, now 24, and Alina, 19, graduated from high school in Phoenix and tried to move on to college and jobs, their legal status was put in sharp relief. Neither can get steady work and they have had to curtail their studies since a 2006 Arizona law made them ineligible for in-state tuition, meaning higher education is prohibitively expensive.

Ramirez can’t get a stable job, either, since she is undocumented, leaving it up to her husband, who fixes cars, to be the sole provider. But due to the passage of another state law, the controversialSB1070 -- under which authorities must determine immigration status during a lawful stop -- the family has heightened fears, with Eugenio Sanchez opting to hide out one night when authorities suddenly showed up in the area where he works.

“That's the first thing that happened to me with the new laws,” Ramirez said of the scare for her husband, though he returned home the next day without incident. “Day by day, I’ve been scared for my children because they drive. So, I say, ‘What is going to happen if tomorrow one of them gets stopped and I’m not going to see them? Or maybe, they’ll detain me while I'm on the street, what’s going to happen to them?’ It's gotten me to think, ‘What am I doing here? Should I go? Should I stay?’ It’s something that you can’t prevent, what may happen.”

The family has had hard discussions about the situation they find themselves in. Tears were shed over the frustration.

“We would find ... a wall between us, between everything we wanted and between what we could have ... in Mexico,” Alina said, noting that her mom asked many times if they wanted to return to their home country. Ramirez said her son, Hugo, at one point questioned why they even came.

“He told me, ‘See, why did you bring us here? It’s your fault for bringing us here because we came here without a permit,’” she said, at times wiping away tears. “And I told him, ‘The truth is, it’s true. As a mother, it’s my fault because I was thinking for you and deciding for you, and I think instead of doing good, I did bad for you.’ Because, maybe over there, we would be poor but they would have more.”

Hugo, who is proud of his mom's activism, didn’t recall this specific conversation, but Alina said: "Maybe we did blame her and it's understandable but it's ... not her fault.

"I see where she is coming from and I know she was doing something better for us because she wants us to be better people,” she added.

'No documents, no fear': Undocumented immigrants declare themselves Dreamers can apply for deferred action - now what?

Ramirez began volunteering 18 months ago with a group of youth like her own children, who could be eligible for the Dream Act -- immigration reform legislation that has stalled in Congress. But the trigger to stepping up her activism, and putting herself in the spotlight, happened after she saw Hugo and her 17-year-old daughter, Rocio, get arrested while protesting earlier this year on a Phoenix street against Arizona’s immigration restrictions.

“They stood up for themselves and fought for their own rights and dignity,” she said.

When she heard about the bus full of undocumented immigrants heading across the U.S. as a form of visible protest, she said, “My heart jumped and I said, ‘This is my chance.’”

“From the first moment, I thought that it was going to be an impossible dream, even being on the bus, I started asking myself, ‘What I am going to do? What am I doing?’ But now that I feel more part of the group and I participated in different things, I've liked it,” she said.

So far, the bus has wound through Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama on its way to North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention, which begins Sept. 4.

“I armed myself with bravery,” Ramirez said. “I’m not scared anymore because I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m defending my rights as a person, as a human being, and I think if they take away my liberty for a couple of days, I give them up happily.”

Ramirez got legal advice before she left on the trip. She was told that if arrested, she would be low priority for deportation since she hadn’t, for example, committed a crime. But she also learned she didn’t have anything that would help her case, either, such as a relative who is a U.S. citizen, and that ultimately a decision on deportation would be a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

Her children, however, may stand to benefit from a new federal initiative known as the “deferred action” program, under which certain young immigrants in the country without documents can get a two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation. But it won’t help the parents of those who qualify, which is hard, Alina said.

“It’s sad to think about ... them not having papers,” she said, also noting how proud she was of her mom. “She’s doing it for us so I am so grateful … . Even though we miss her a lot, we know she is doing something good."

On the road, Ramirez has heard from opposing voices. One of those at the Birmingham hearing, Carol Swain, a professor of politics and law at Vanderbilt University, said the group had not chosen the right venues for their protest.

“Take your protest to Congress and sit outside their doors,” Swain, a self-described conservative, said later by phone. She added that she thought “the average citizen doesn’t understand how someone can be in the country, you know, undocumented or illegal and then they’re making demands and flaunting the fact that they don’t have papers. But when I listen to the people (the undocubus group), I see their sincerity, that they really do believe that they’re entitled ... to be legal and to have all the benefits of American citizens."

"I think we’re sort of speaking past each other," she added, "and I think they’re taking their protest to the wrong party.”

Such a critique is not likely to dissuade Ramirez, who said the bus protest has given her strength and taught her a lot.

“I ask myself every day, ‘What a turn my life made, a total turn,’” she said. “I think it was my time to live. It was my time to give to someone else.”

NBC News' Natalia Jimenez contributed to this this report. Originally posted on MSNBC.COM

Eleazar: Para abrir las puertas que le han sido cerradas

Eleazar Castellanos es padre jornalero de Arizona quien subió a la jornada de la justicia porque juntos podemos lograr algo mejor por nosotros y nuestros hijos. Después de ver que su hija no podría seguir estudiando en la universidad y después de perder su propio trabajo por las leyes de Arizona, decidió hacer algo mas para abrir las puertas que le han sido cerradas.

Eleazar is a father and day laborer who is on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice because together we can accomplish something larger. After seeing his daughter unable to continue her studies and after losing his own job because of the laws in Arizona, he decided to be part of the journey to open the doors that have become closed to him and his community. Film by Barny Qaasim Edited by Barny Qaasim

Matilde: Coming Out for Dignity and Respect

Manuela: Working Towards Freedom

Verbo Autonomo

Fernando "Verbo Autonomo" Lopez es uno de los viajeros de la jornada por la justicia sin papeles y sin miedo.

Fernando "Verbo Autonomo" is one of the no papers no fear riders.

El Poder de Organizarse Como Comunidad Indocumentada

The power to organize as an undocumented community. No Papers No Fear Rider and member of Chicago's Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco talks about effective organizing strategies. 

Filmed and Edited by Jorge Torres

Atlanta Rallies Outside Detention Center

When we go to Knoxville.

Originally published in the Knoxville Sentinel.

Riding a bus for weeks at a time as an undocumented immigrant can be a little intimidating. Stopping in cities and towns where there is a clear risk of arrest and jail means overcoming fear. Still, along with my fellow undocumented passengers of the "No Papers, No Fear Ride for Justice," I'm looking forward to our visit to Knoxville as we head toward Charlotte, N.C., and the Democratic National Convention at the beginning of September.

I am on the bus because it is time for undocumented people like me who live, work, study and organize in this country to come out of the shadows. It's time to change the laws so that people like me and my family don't have to live in fear of jail, deportation or separation. It's time for people in the United States to understand that we are human and we are home, regardless of where we were born or what our immigration status is.

I've been in the United States since I was 7 years old, My dad, who was having a hard time finding work in Mexico, moved after being offered a job in Chicago. To make sure my sister and I grew up with our father, my mother made the choice to move with him to the U.S. After our visas expired, we became undocumented.

As part of the Immigrant Youth Justice League, a group led by undocumented people, I spoke out and participated in civil disobedience. To remain in the shadows, to remain feeling like I had no control over my life, was intolerable. By showing that I am not afraid, I work to create a better present and future for all.

We want undocumented people to believe that they can be part of creating the change that this country needs.

I think people in Knoxville who are not undocumented have no idea what it is like to fear getting stopped by police for a minor traffic violation that could lead to being deported, or to be harassed because your face is brown.

When Arizona passed its anti-immigrant law in 2010, a lot of undocumented families moved to other states. But for many of us, leaving home was not an option. Undocumented communities need to find a common voice that can address the record number of deportations and move President Barack Obama, Congress and our neighbors to stand on the right side of history and do their part to turn the tide from exclusion to inclusion.

The president has taken some steps, but under the federal government's "Secure Communities" program, hundreds of thousands of deportations continue to occur. It doesn't make sense to separate young people who qualify for deferred action under the president's recent "Dream Act" announcement from parents who still are at risk of deportation. We're heading to Charlotte because we hope to inspire the president to do more.

In Phoenix, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has built his political career by hurting people like me. His deputies are famous for racial profiling and using intimidation to create chaos and fear. In the face of that sort of terrorism, we've learned that everyone is safer when we organize to defend our rights.

I'm confident that this nation will eventually come to grips with today's discrimination and make things right. This country has been built upon generations of people asserting their rights, resisting injustice and moving forward. Like the brave people who came before us, we are confronting our fears so that this country can be confronted with our humanity.

That's why I'm on the bus.

Timelapse: The Making of the (undocu)bus

Somos Tuscaloosa: Tornados and Anti-Immigrant Terror


 


The No papers no fear ride rallied with Somos Tuscaloosa on their anniversary to recount stories of surviving last year's tornado and organizing in response to Alabama's HB56.

Manuela Esteba: Tengo el derecho de sentirme libre

Principios y Valores: Cómo construir un comite

Bien Organizados en Tifton, GA

Melissa Harris Perry: No Papers No Fear Footsoldiers

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Alejandro: We're Human and We Want Our Rights

Undocumented Immigrants Urge Knox County Sheriff ‘JJ’ Jones To Stop Seeking Direct Collaboration with Immigration Authorities, Welcome ‘No Papers No Fear’ Riders

Undocumented immigrants and supporters from Knoxville will be speaking out publicly about their experience with programs that seek collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, which lead to separation of families, distrust between police and immigrant communities, and are marred by practices of racial profiling. The riders of the No Papers No Fear bus will also be arriving on it’s way to the Democratic National Convention, inviting Sheriff to welcome undocumented immigrants to Knox county.

Knoxville, Tennessee – Undocumented immigrants, including one from Knoxville, Tennessee, will be speaking out in front of Sheriff J.J. Jones’ office about the harm that programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities cause the Knoxville community. These two programs  promote collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, leading to increased separation of families, eroding trust between immigrant and police enforcement. On of the speakers will be Alejandro Guizar, 19, an undocumented immigrant in deportation proceedings living in Knoxville, Tennessee, who was placed in removal while walking home from a graduation party, and continues fighting his deportation even after all criminal charges were dropped.

“It’s not that I’m not scared about speaking publicly about my story, but sometimes we have to face fear to let others know the situations that we are facing every day as immigrant communities. The Sheriff has not made it clear when he will meet with us, has refused to share information with the community, and he needs to hear from undocumented immigrants living in his county, and those who have experienced the implementation of programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) around the country,” said Guizar.

Sheriff Jones has been seeking approval from the federal government and funding to implement 287(g) in Knox county.

Guizar and supporters of the immigrant community also urge Sheriff Jones to welcome and listen to the ‘No Papers No Fear’ riders, a national delegation of undocumented people and allies who left Phoenix, Arizona on July 29th, travelling across the south to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies.

The No Papers No Fear ride was inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

What: Press Conference And Welcome for No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice

When: Tuesday August 28, 2012; 3:00 PM

Where: West Hill Avenue and Gay Street, north west corner

Who: Undocumented immigrants from Knoxville, including Alexandro Guizar; No Papers No Fear Riders; Knoxville United Against Racism; Allies for Knoxville Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN); Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition; and the Unknowns Working to be Known.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

Teatro de los Glahriadores en Atlanta: Sin papeles sin miedo



Enseñar los derechos por medio de teatro dramático y a veces chistoso. La jornada por la justicia sin papeles y sin miedo participaba en un convivio con Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) en Atlanta.

Filmed and Edited Jorge Torres

Knoxville Unites Against Racism, Deportation Programs, Welcomes National No Papers No Fear Riders

Knoxville community members and the national delegation of undocumented immigrants on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, will gather for a peaceful demonstration for immigrant rights, and against the 287(g) deportation program. Undocumented immigrants and their allies will share their testimonies focusing on the use of racial profiling, separation of families, and the need for undocumented communities to organize.

Knoxville, TN – Community members, Knoxville immigrants, and undocumented organizers with the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice will gather for a peaceful demonstration and march to stand up for immigrant rights, to denounce racial profiling, and programs such as 287(g), a collaboration between federal and local police to enforce immigration law, burdening local governments and eroding the safety and trust of all communities.

Knox County Sheriff, Jimmy ‘J.J.’ Jones, has decided to implement 287(g) in a way that targets Latinos and immigrants in Knoxville, also leading to an increase in the number of deportations of undocumented people who are part of Knoxville's community and friends will march to send the message to our community that we stand united against racism and to show our unity as a beautiful, diverse community committed to racial, economic, and gender justice.

The No Papers No Fear ride was inspired by actions of undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows events and civil disobedience actions, that have demonstrated the power and results of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

WHAT: Rally and March against 287(g), racial profiling and deportations; welcome of the No Papers No Fear Riders.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 28, 6:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Downtown Knoxville, TN, Kick off rally at Krutch Park and march through Downtown

WHO: Churches, youth groups, students, community organizations, families, immigrant rights advocates, and No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

Todo tipo de hispanos recorren EE.UU. por la dignidad de los "sin papeles"

Amas de casa, estudiantes, trabajadores de la construcción, activistas y madres de familia recorren varios estados de Estados Unidos en un autobús, que partió hace casi un mes de Arizona bajo el lema "sin papeles y sin miedo", para instar a otros a salir de las "sombras".

El recorrido no ha sido fácil. Han debido dejar atrás a sus familias, sus trabajos y enfrentar la incertidumbre de la posibilidad de ser detenidos o deportados, pero no hay rastros en ellos de arrepentimiento o deseos de abandonar el camino tras largas horas de viaje.

María Cruz Ramírez es una madre de 46 años que decidió abordar el "undocubus" para transmitir a sus tres hijos el deseo de "defender su dignidad".

"Yo estoy aquí para pelear por los derechos civiles y la dignidad de mis hijos y enseñarles a todos que aunque no tengamos papeles, todos tenemos derechos y no debemos dejar que se nos pisotee", dijo a Efe esta madre, originaria de Hidalgo, México.

Cruz asegura que jamás se le cruzó por la mente la posibilidad de convertirse en una activista proinmigrante en sus tiempos de estilista en su natal México.

Sin embargo, tras "descubrir" su nueva vocación, reconoce que le será difícil dejar de "levantar su voz" para enseñar otros padres y madres a defender los derechos de sus hijos.

"Este viaje me ha cambiado mucho y he aprendido mucho más de lo que me imaginé que podía aprender en mi vida de los compañeros y de las comunidades por las que hemos pasado", declaró Cruz, que vive en Arizona desde hace once años.

Gerardo Torres dice saber lo que es ser discriminado, tanto por su condición de indocumentado como por ser homosexual. Este trabajador de la construcción y promotor de salud comunitario decidió unirse al "undocubus" para reclamar sus derechos.

"Queremos que la comunidad se dé cuenta de que tienen el poder de defender sus derechos porque ya estamos cansados de que los políticos estén hablando de nuestras vidas como si fueran expertos, cuando en realidad no tienen ninguna idea de lo que nosotros vivimos diariamente", aseveró a Efe Torres, que ha vivido en Arizona durante los últimos 18 años.

Como miembro del movimiento proinmigrantes Puente Human Rights y de la agrupación 3rdSpace, que aboga por los derechos de los inmigrantes homosexuales, Torres busca en este recorrido dar una mayor "visibilidad" a los problemas que afectan a este colectivo.

Al igual que el resto de sus compañeros de viaje, asegura que convertirse en activista "no estaba entre sus planes", pero reconoce que a partir de ahora siente el "deber" de informar a otros sobre sus derechos.

"Ha sido una experiencia muy bonita porque hemos podido convivir y nos hemos dado cuenta de que al final del día todos estamos luchando contra lo mismo. Nos hemos dado cuenta de que somos más parecidos de lo que pensábamos", dijo.

El recorrido empezó el pasado 29 de julio en Phoenix, Arizona, luego de una serie de manifestaciones contra el alguacil del condado de Maricopa, Joe Arpaio, y culminará en Carolina del Norte la próxima semana en la Convención del Partido Demócrata.

Los inmigrantes han participado en diversos eventos en varias ciudades de los estados de Nuevo México, Colorado, Texas, Luisiana, Alabama, Tennessee y Georgia.

Amas de casa, estudiantes, trabajadores de la construcción, activistas y madres de familia recorren varios estados de Estados Unidos, que partió hace casi un mes de Arizona bajo el lema "sin papeles y sin miedo", para instar a otros a salir de las "sombras". EFE/Archivo

Undocumented youth and allies take a freedom bus ride

Source: http://mexmigration.blogspot.com/2012/08/no-papers-no-fear.html

GROWING MOVEMENT TRAVELS TO CORE OF ANTI-IMMIGRANT REGIONS

(LOS ANGELES, CA.)  In a previous blog posting, I reported on the growing movement of undocumented youth seeking to assert their rightful place in U.S. society. I was reporting on the advent of an entirely new political subject involving the expression of “undocumented fearlessness” among youth without papers who deliberately had themselves arrested protesting SB1070 against the backdrop of the struggle to end the reign of Sheriff Arpaio and his constant dragnets in the Latina/o community, which are designed to fill the shoddy tents in his desert gulag with the fresh money-making bodies of detainees who are eventually swallowed up by the hidden holds of the private corporate prison and detention industry; these are the same forces that, with the Koch Brothers, are funding the attack on American democracy. This amazing and energetic movement includes many youth who were first brought to the United States as infants and older minors; they are the constituency targeted by President  Obama’s  recent Executive Order temporarily suspending deportation proceedings against these innocent undocumented children and younger adults.

The Undocubus. Credit: Ruckus Society

Now individual acts of protest through the public expression of undocumented fearlessness have become a bona fide collective action social movement. The protesters have upped the ante and created a “No Papers, No Fear” organization. Their principle protest vehicle is the launching of the Undocubus Ride for Justice, which is currently traveling through the core regions of the states that have promulgated the attack on Mexican-origin peoples (from Arizona through the Deep South) This is an especially significant and poignant development because for most of the past 100 years, undocumented immigrants have been forced into the shadows by the constant threats posed by apprehension, detention, and deportation. Instead of accepting their status as Homo sacers – i.e., as bodies without a political existence – the new generation of undocumented youth are instead putting everything on the line in order to assert their political nature as human agents by engaging in direct action protests and thereby enacting their social if not legal citizenship. This activism by the most marginal and vulnerable among us challenges and undermines the state of exception and disrupts the normal operation of biopower at its core.

The movement also brings attention to the fact that, despite the too little too late Executive Order on deferred action, the Obama administration has been unrelenting in its pursuit of the deportation agenda and every year the Department of Homeland Security has an average removed some 400,000 people from the United States. Over the past four years, as has been widely discussed and criticized, President Obama has actually deported over 1 million people, an amount far greater than what was realized under the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Lest we forget, Obama’s meteoric deportation program is a direct result of his continued promotion of systematic collaboration between local police and immigration agents through the so-called Secure Communities, which was authorized under the 2001 U.S. Patriot Act and has been implemented in more than 90 percent of counties. I have previously reported on this dangerous development, which operates under the rubric of the so-called 287g provisions of the Patriot Act, and constitutes a violation of human and civil rights.

The 287g program is part and parcel of a set of very serious threats to our Bill of Rights that includes the power of the President to authorize the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens under the recently signed National Defense Authorizatioin Act (NDAA). This legislation basically declares that the U.S. homeland is a war zone, in the indefinite so-called global war on terrorism, which is of course an open-ended invitation to suspend the Bill of Rights and impose a permanent state of siege (or exception) on the population.

Nevertheless, the undocumented youth are resolute and righteous in their defiance of this sort of repression. It is the grassroots power of our own communities mobilized in a growing social movement that is propelling the process of transformation of the discourse and biopolitics of immigration.  The “No Papers, No Fear” Ride for Justice campaign is a very good example of a leading-edge and transformational movement led by undocumented youth. The Ride for Justice campaign has a website and I invite my readers and followers to visit it often as it documents one of the greatest new social movements of our time. The activists with this campaign explain their raison d’être in eloquent and courageous words:

…we have also witnessed how actions led by our own communities have the power to change policies and to create alternatives to defend the rights of immigrants. In Arizona, Barrio Defense Committees have organized to share information about how to fight against deportations, and against those who seek to criminalize immigrant communities. Actions by undocumented students, such as coming out of the shadows, civil disobedience, and occupations of electoral offices have shown what happens when our community acts for itself, it changes everything.  We can’t wait for anyone else any longer. We’ve come too far to allow this country to be turned back...This summer a culmination of this work will be manifested during a Bus ride, through key states in the southern part of the United States, that will continue to confront power with the stories, voices, and actions of those directly affected by these immigration policies. Riders are undocumented people from all over the country, including students, mothers and fathers, children, people in deportation proceedings, day laborers, and others who continue to face deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life. [Bold emphasis is in the original]

We are presenting a short video clip of the Undocubus Ride for Justice and call on our readers and followers to educate and inform the public about the just cause of undocumented youth who have already earned their place in U.S. society and represent an invaluable asset to the future of our country. Anyone that has weathered the dangers and deprivations of life as an undocumented minor will not be rankled by the sorts of threats and challenges they are likely to face as bona fide adult citizens of this changing nation that yearns for their determination, knowledge, skill, and genuine compassion, all qualities that are often missing among more privileged segments of our citizenry.

It is not a cliché to note that the youth in this video are speaking truth to power. They have an important message for all of us: They argue that the crisis of human rights in Arizona did not start with SB1070, but the new faces of resistance were forged in the aftermath of that unconstitutional travesty; these are their faces; and voices. These are the faces of undocumented youth who without fear declare that they will defy the courts and the state that criminalizes them for simply wanting to live and work and have families and be members of a historically and rightfully established community that by far predates the arrival of the Anglo snowbirds that have surreptitiously and violently weaseled their way into political and economic power in Arizona and other border region states.

These youth expect and demand nothing less than just immigration reform and insist that they will be recognized as human beings with full political rights; they will refuse to allow their families to be split apart or the hate to drive their cultures and histories out of the school classrooms. These youth challenge all of us who care about our country to take a stand, and perhaps a bus ride, with them on the road toward a truly democratic future; a future we will only be able to take back by sheer political force through the exercise of our agency against the Arpaios, Brewers, Huppenthals, and Kobeks of the world who are destroying the American Dream based on their irrational fear and hatred of our emerging bronze majority and rainbow nation.

Fran: How long can we stand by and watch?

My name is Fran Ansley.  I am a retired law professor and I have lived in East Tennessee for forty years.  I am here with my fellow Knoxvillian, Alex Guizar, to welcome the “No Papers No Fear” Bus Riders for Justice, and to thank them for coming to help us make Knoxville a safer, more democratic, and more welcoming community.

For months now Alex and I have been working -- along with a broad array of other individuals and organizations -- to try to alert the people of Knox County and our sheriff, J.J. Jones, to the danger of programs like 287(g) and Secure Communities.  Programs like these entangle local police, deputies and jailers in the dirty work of enforcing a broken, unjust and hypocritical immigration system.  They invite and encourage racial profiling, they undermine the ability of local police to carry out what is supposed to be their primary mission, they tear families apart, and they create a reign of fear for many Latino immigrants and their loved ones.

Despite receiving many and repeated calls and visits from concerned community members over the course of several months, Sheriff Jones has not yet been willing even to discuss these matters face-to-face with the affected community.  Instead he has refused any direct conversation, pushing it off over and over until some vague future date, as though there were not many pressing issues that would benefit greatly from immediate discussion -- and as though he owes the community no explanations and has no need of the important information they are attempting to provide -- until after even more decisions are already made.

Meanwhile, the arrests and deportations grind on.  And in far too many cases -- a breathtaking number of cases -- these are deportations of people accused of no serious crime, people who far from being threats to community security are making daily positive contributions to our common life.  So as this mass deportation process grinds on, families continue to be ripped apart, serious crimes go too often unattended, and vulnerable workers continue to be abused with impunity because they are afraid to bring their complaints into the light.  These are conditions that are toxic for true democracy, toxic for the workplace rights of immigrant and non-immigrant workers alike, toxic for the racial climate, toxic for all that is best in the American tradition.

In this atmosphere, I must tell you that I wake up many mornings asking myself how long a white, native-born citizen like myself should continue to accept business as usual.  How long should I be content to speak with small groups of people about these concerns as I can find the time or stir the interest, all the while knowing that far too few people have yet received the information or heard the stories that might move them to get informed and involved?  How long should a person like me stand by watching while a new racialized underclass is created in our midst by broken immigration policies and federal gridlock, and soon harnessed to the political or financial profit of those willing to take advantage?

So maybe you can see why I was deeply moved when I heard about the “No Papers No Fear” bus riders and their journey. At great risk they had stepped out of the shadows -- out of the dungeon of fear and into the public square.  At least for themselves, and from a position of much greater risk, they had answered the question of “How long?” with “No longer.”  As undocumented people they were standing up to say, “No longer in the shadows.  No longer in hiding.  No Papers, No Fear.”

And maybe you can see why I was even more excited when I learned soon afterward that they were coming right here to Knoxville.  They had heard about the impasse reached in local efforts to win even a first conversation with Sheriff Jones.  And they had decided to help us bring news to the people of Knox County and to Sheriff Jones about the human cost of the deportation machine.

Well, Sheriff Jones, well, people of Knoxville:  Here they are!  Here are the bus riders of No Papers No Fear, bringing to you and to all of us this important news, bringing to you their very bodies, putting themselves on the line.  Now what are you going to do?

Immigration advocates rally over law enforcement concerns in Knoxville

Originally Published at WATE

Undocumented immigrants and supporters spoke out Tuesday in Knoxville about their concerns over law enforcement ties to federal programs, blocked traffic and four were taken into custody.

Several groups spoke in front of the Knox County Sheriff's Office. They include: No Papers No Fear Riders, Knoxville United Against Racism, Allies for Knoxville Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN) Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and the Unknowns Working to be Known.

Their focus is such programs as 287(g) and Secure Communities, which they say lead to increased separation of families and promote collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.

The 287(g) program is one component of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security) program. It provides local law enforcement agencies an opportunity to team with ICE to combat community challenges.

The Secure Communities program uses an existing federal information-sharing partnership between ICE and the FBI. It helps identify criminal aliens without imposing new or additional requirements on state and local law enforcement, according to the ICE website.

One of Tuesday's speakers was Alejandro Guizar, 19, of Knoxville, an undocumented immigrant in deportation proceedings. All criminal charges were dropped in a case against Guizar, but he continues to fight deportation.

Guizar, Maria Huerta, 65, Maricela Lou, 52, and Fraces Ashley, 65, blocked the intersection on Gay and Hill Streets. They sat on a sign that read "No Papers No Fear," and a banner with the words "Sheriff J.J. Jones' racism hurts Knoxville."

Three of the protesters, Huerta, Lou, and Ashley were released by the police with a ticket for blocking traffic. Guizar was transferred to the Knox County Detention Facility.

There was also a rally and march Tuesday night against 287(g), racial profiling and deportations that went through downtown.

Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo en Homestead, FL

El pasado Domingo 26 de Agosto, a pesar de la fuerte lluvia y viento que trajo la tormenta tropical Issac, un grupo de 30 valientes adultos y chicos de la comunidad inmigrante de Homestead y miembros de WeCount! salió a manifestarse en frente La Michoacana Ice Cream Shop en contra la implementación del programa de inmigración "Comunidades Seguras" (S-Comm) y en apoyo a la Caravana SIN PAPELES, SIN MIEDO (UndocuBus), una caravana de inmigrantes indocumentados que actualmente viaja desde Arizona a Carolina del Norte atravesando los estados del sur llevando un mensaje de valentía y amor sobreponiéndose al racismo y odio contra los indocumentados.homestead no tiene miedo

"Estamos en solidaridad con los pasajeros del UNDOCUBUS. Su valentia y corage nos inspiró a estar presentes hoy dia a pesar del mal tiempo y los riegos. No tenemos mas nada que perder...solo el miedo,dijo Brenda Narvaez, estudiante y joven lider de WeCount! 

“Si tuvimos el coraje de salir de nuestro país y dejar a nuestras familias para buscar un mejor futuro aquí en Estados Unidos, también debemos tener el valor de defender nuestro derecho a permanecer aquí con nuestras familias y con dignidad. No podemos seguir viviendo en las sombras," dijo Selina Villa, una de las líderes del grupo de mujeres WeCount!.

“No le debemos nada a este país...este país nos debe a nosotros! Tanta humillación y abuso. Yo no tengo miedo!” dijo Joe Delgado, inmigrante indocumentado que ha vivido en Homestead muchos años y  líder de WeCount!

Los participantes también protestaron contra el aumento de los ataques contra las comunidades latinas e inmigrantes por parte de las fuerzas locales de policía en colaboración con ICE, y pidieron apoyo a los oficiales electos locales. También, pidieron a Obama que pare las deportaciones y que cumpla sus promesas.

"Este es nuestro país, aquí trabajamos, y aquí vivimos. Tenemos derechos. No tenemos miedo. Obama es tiempo que cumplas con tus promesas!”,dijo Felipa Tomas una de las lideres del grupo de mujeres de WeCount!.

"Nuestro evento fue una victoria inmensa en contra del miedo impuesto sobre nuestra gente. Todas y todos los presentes entienden la importancia de salir de la sombras y de luchar por una vida justa y digna. Nada o nadie nos va a parar, ni la migra, la policía, o el huracán. Dios está de nuestra parte. Homestead es ahora oficialmente parte del sentimiento de justicia pro-inmigrante que está basado en la valentía y no en el miedo y la súplica. Sin papeles y Sin Miedo" dijo Lis-Marie Alvarado.

One Arrested, Three Cited Protesting 287(g) in Knoxville

Originally Published at WBIR

A protest Tuesday led to several people being taken into custody.

Protesters were voicing their concerns over a program called 287(g) that the Knox County's Sheriff's Office is considering for inmates here. It's a partnership with federal authorities to check an immigrant's legal status.

Tuesday afternoon, protesters, including illegal immigrants, protested near the sheriff's office. Some are traveling across the country spreading a message they call "No papers, no fear."

They joined East Tennesseans, including an undocumented man named Alejandro Guizar. He was one of several people detained for blocking the intersection of Gay Street and Hill Avenue.

 

"I'm not afraid to follow the legacy of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to use non-violent methods to change our policy in our community for the better!" exclaimed Guizar as he was being arrested.

Three others at the protest received citations.

Some protesters say 287(g) reminds them of Arizona's law that allows officers to check the status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

Sheriff Jones repeated what he has said in the past, that the program would only apply to inmates in Knox County, but he says he is still waiting for more guidance from the federal government before sitting down to hear the concerns of the immigrant community in person.
    
"I know that he's waiting for that, but i think it's very important to be talking to the people. Especially, there are a lot of people who are allies of the movement who are U.S. citizens who are really saying, 'You need to talk t oyour community,' especially because he is elected," said Miguel Carpizo with the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee Rise Coalition.

Knoxville police say the protesters did not get a permit or notify city officials about their plans.
 

Previous story

At least one person has been arrested and three people were cited at a protest in downtown Knoxville Tuesday afternoon.

The group is speaking out against the 287(g) Immigration Program, that would allow officials to run any inmate suspected of being foreign-born through an immigration database, and then hold them for possible deportation. 

The program is not currently being used in Knox County, but the sheriff's office was considering it.

The protest was planned to send a message to Sheriff JJ Jones, and took place in front of the City-County Building, where his office is located.  The group then marched down the street. 

A 10News crew saw at least one person from that group being arrested at the intersection of Gay St. and Hill Ave. in downtown Knoxville. 

This is how the group describes their mission in a press release about the event: 

Undocumented immigrants, including one from Knoxville, Tennessee, will be speaking out in front of Sheriff J.J. Jones' office about the harm that programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities cause the Knoxville community. These two programs promote collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, leading to increased separation of families, eroding trust between immigrant and police enforcement. One of the speakers will be Alejandro Guizar, 19, an undocumented immigrant in deportation proceedings living in Knoxville, Tennessee, who was placed in removal while walking home from a graduation party, and continues fighting his deportation even after all criminal charges were dropped.

"It's not that I'm not scared about speaking publicly about my story, but sometimes we have to face fear to let others know the situations that we are facing every day as immigrant communities. The Sheriff has not made it clear when he will meet with us, has refused to share information with the community, and he needs to hear from undocumented immigrants living in his county, and those who have experienced the implementation of programs like Secure Communities and 287(g) around the country," said Guizar.

Guizar and supporters of the immigrant community also urge Sheriff Jones to welcome and listen to the 'No Papers No Fear' riders, a national delegation of undocumented people and allies who left Phoenix, Arizona on July 29th, travelling across the south to rally the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies.

Migration is a Human Right

Migration is a human right
Whether on foot, bike or flight.
It is how the souls of the living connect with those of the dead.
It is how dreams travel
After they have been incubated in someone's head.


Migration is life.
Migration is culture.
It how dreams plan for a better future.
It is how the starving reject famine.
How the brave refuse to live in fear.
It is the way the world was built,
the ultimate law of the land.
Migration is what happens when love transcends borders.
It is the joy of a life worth fighting for,
The pain of the war-torn.
The cry of a newborn.
Migration is what happens when a poet speaks her mind
And lets the words go where they may.
It is the true witness during the trial.
It is the certainty that the universe works hard to accomodate every last adventure and every last creature
during times of injustice, starvation, or war

All Four Immigrant Rights Advocates Arrested on Gay Street Released, No Papers No Fear Bus Tour Heads Towards Democratic National Convention, Local Groups Continue Fight

Two undocumented immigrants, including one from Knoxville, and two supporters have been released, and are ready to head towards the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina with the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice. Alejandro was released last night from the Knox County Sheriff Detention Facility. Local groups to continue fight against 287(g), Secure Communities and deportations.

What: Press conference announcing release of all four protesters, including two undocumented, arrested during street peaceful protest on Gay street and Hill, on August 28, 2012.

When: August 29, 2012, 11:30 AM

Where: In front of Sheriff J.J. Jones’ office, 400 Main Street.

Who: Alejandro Guizar, 19; Maria Huerta, 65; and Frances Ansley, 66; Undocumented immigrants from Knoxville, No Papers No Fear Riders; Knoxville United Against Racism; members of Allies for Knoxville Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN); Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC); and the Unknowns Working to be Known.

Why: The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th, and is travelling towards the Democratic National Convention rallying the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies along the way. The action takes place 7 days before the group reaches Charlotte, North Carolina.

In support of local community struggles against 287(g) and the implementation of programs that lead to family separation, four immigrant rights advocates were arrested during a peaceful protest, including two No Papers No Fear riders. Alejandro Guizar,  Maria Huerta, Maricela Lou, and Frances Ansley blocked the intersection on Gay and Hill Streets, sitting on a sign that read “No Papers No Fear,” and a banner with the words “Sheriff J.J. Jones’ racism hurts Knoxville.”

High resolution pictures for download: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nopapersnofear

Video of arrests earlier in the day available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3KKfOrJWIc&feature=youtu.be

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org, and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

 

UndocuBus Riders Find Struggle and Hope in Knoxville

Originally Published at Colorlines.com

Knoxville’s Church of the Savior was buzzing with energy last night. Some 70 locals prepared a potluck feast for UndocuBus riders, who have spent the last three days in eastern Tennessee. Riders include people of all ages, including students, day laborers, and domestic workers, and they’re headed to the Democratic National Convention. 

Last night’s generosity is indicative of the support riders have experienced since the ride started in Phoenix, Arizona more than a month ago. While UndocuBus is reaching out to those people who have been most affected by draconian immigration laws, they’re also building community with white allies who are helping to feed and house the riders as they head towards Charlotte for the convention. 

After dinner, the riders were given the pulpit to share their stories. A candle was lit to signify the sacredness of the moments that followed, when more than a dozen people spoke, sometimes sharing poetry, sometimes singing music, always reflecting on why they joined the ride, and ending with the refrain, “No papers, no fear!” 

What might sound like a catchy slogan to some has real resonance in Knoxville. Local sheriff J.J. Jones has applied for 287(g), which is a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Homeland Security so that local deputies can enforce federal immigration law. A coalition of immigrant rights groups have attempted to meet with Sheriff Jones, but he has so far refused. 

A Knoxville teenager, Alejandro Guizar, who was already facing deportation when he joined UndocuBus in Nashville early this week, wanted to join an action to challenge Sheriff Jones.  
Guizar, 19, was arrested after his high school graduation—he had some drinks at a party and was charged with public intoxication. Despite the fact that the charge was dropped, he still faces deportation proceedings. As he addressed the packed church, he explained why he decided to risk arrest the previous day, when he and three others blocked the bridge that leads to Sheriff Jones’s office. Because he was the only one participating in the civil disobedience without identification, he was, indeed, arrested—but mounting pressure from UnodcuBus and the social media network they’ve created secured Guizar’s release, just six hours after his arrest. 

I learned that one of the women he was arrested with was named Fran—described to me as a white ally who works on immigrant rights locally. When I sought her out after the event, I didn’t expect to meet a 66-year-old white woman. A retired law professor, Fran Ansley grew up in what she described as Jim Crow Atlanta. She works with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and although she’s committed a lot of time to social justice, the last time she was arrested was during a student war protest in 1969. She explained she’s been so inspired by the way people have been inventing new ways to fight against anti-immigrant initiatives that she wanted to do what she could to be part of a civil disobedience. If Sheriff Jones had been able to ignore the coalition so far, the action would just make it that much harder. 

As the riders headed back to the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist church to spend the night, they song popularized in Chile called “El Pueblo Unido Jamas Será Vencido,” which translates to “The People United Will Never be Divided.” In an ever-changing nation, UndocuBus challenges how we define “the people,” and who creates change. 

Before the night was over, Maria Huerta, a 65-year-old undocumented rider from northern California who was cited the previous day for participating in the civil disobedience against Sheriff Jones’s 287(g) request, got a text and became visibly excited by the news. Huerta, who works with Mujeres Unidas y Activas (or United and Active Women), arrived on UnodcuBus on a delegation of six women sent by the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance about two weeks ago. Four of them headed to California soon after as that state’s domestic worker’s bill was moving through the legislature. Huerta’s text alerted her that the bill had just passed—largely due to the efforts of undocumented women who are claiming their stakes in electoral politics.

 

No Papers No Fear’ Delegation Makes First Stop in North Carolina Towards Democratic National Convention, Supports Undocumented Immigrants of Asheville

A national delegation of undocumented immigrants visits western North Carolina to challenge practice of constant police check-points targeting undocumented immigrants, racial profiling and support workers in deportation proceedings, specifically those targeted in the 2011 Shogun Restaurant immigration raid. The No Papers No Fear riders arrive after a series of direct actions and civil disobedience rallying the migrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies.

Asheville, NC – For the last 6 weeks three dozen undocumented immigrants have traveled across the southern United States sharing their stories living and organizing undocumented, supporting local organizing taking place in immigrant communities, and challenging Sheriffs that are implementing anti-immigrant policies designed to scare immigrant communities. The arrive into North Carolina after a successful civil disobedience in Knoxville, Tennessee, where 2 undocumented riders and 2 allies were arrested, and then let go, proving once again the power of being out of the shadows and having an organized community.

In Asheville, they will work with advocates in Western North Carolina who over the last six years have been organizing against racial profiling, deportations, and the use of police check points targeting Latinos and undocumented immigrants.  These practices have eroded the trust between local police and Latino communities, and have made our communities less safe.  Additionally, in November 2011 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a work place raid at the Shogun restaurant, that has led to 12 workers being placed in deportation proceedings. The workers have continued to organize and defend their right to work, and welcome the national delegation.  Osvaldo Solis, one of the Shogun workers said that he welcomes the riders, and hopes "that their visit will let other people know about the injustices that happen here in Asheville." 

The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th. The riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

What: Cultural and story-sharing event, “Undocunight, Una Noche de Sueños y Esperanza”
When: Thursday August 30, 2012; 5:00 PM (Press welcome at 5:30).
Where: WNCCHS Fellowship Hall, 312 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC
Who: Participants of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice and community supporters

What: Action and rally at Shogun Buffet
When: Thursday August 30, 2012; 7:30 PM [Driving from Cultural night event]
Where: Shogun Buffet, 1000 Brevard Road, Asheville, North Carolina
Who: Former Shogun Restaurant workers in deportation proceedings, No Papers No Fear participants, community supporters.

What: Visit to the Jackson County Sheriff Office
When: Friday August 31, 2012; 11 AM [Call for time confirmation]
Where: Jackson County Sheriff’s office, 399 Grindstaff Cove Road, Sylva, NC
Who: Undocumented immigrants on the No Papers No Fear ride, including organizers against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona.

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

Oregonians show solidarity with No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, lift up local cases and demands action

Portland, Oregon  -- Local undocumented community leaders and families will share their stories and come out of the shadows to demand that elected officials address Multnomah county law enforcement’s relationship with ICE.  The rally will be followed by a press conference and a “Coming Out of the Shadows” act by undocumented Oregonians. 

The press conference will highlight local campaigns that are building a stronger and safer immigrant community.  The “Coming Out of the Shadow” action will have testimonials from individuals directly impacted by police/ICE collaboration.  The Oregon Dream Activists are working locally and nationally to demand that ICE stop deporting innocent young people and their families.

“We want to show the support of the brave individuals on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice and also highlight how the issue of immigrant rights hits home right here in Portland” said Jaime Limon

There will be representatives from faith, community and immigrant rights organizations working in coalition to support the undocumented immigrant community.

The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB 1070. They are traveling across the country to unite the immigrant community to overcome fear and organize to challenge anti-immigrant policies. Inspired by the actions of undocumented youth that have demonstrated the power  of communities acting and speaking for themselves, the riders are undocumented people from all over the country who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

WHAT: A rally showing support for the brave undocumented participants of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice and local leaders impacted by police/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) collaboration

WHEN: Thursday August 28, 2012; 10:30 AM GMT

WHERE: Immigration Customs Enforcement Building, 1001 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR

 

WHO: Jobs with Justice, Oregon Dream Activist, VOZ Workers Rights’ Education Project and Oregon New Sanctuary Movement

 

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

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.  

Coming out is so important because every time undocumented people share their stories with the community, it encourages others to lose fear as well. Although sharing our stories within the community is empowering in itself, watching people face those who have criminalized and marginalized them is also powerful.  

On our last day, August 17, four of the UndocuBus riders stood up during the United States Commission on Civil Rights (USSCR) hearing in Birmingham, Alabama while the author of SB 1070 and HB 56 Kris Kobach spoke.  Since the hearing was meant to reflect on the effects of immigration laws like SB 1070 it was essential for undocumented people to speak on their own behalf even if we were not invited to do so. The four riders, Gerardo, Maria, Juan, and Mari Cruz  who courageously stood up displayed signs that read undocumented and proceeded to explain why they chose not to be afraid.

When Mari Cruz spoke about her responsibility as a mother and how she was speaking up for her children reminded me of my own parent’s strength to live without fear in this country because they want a better future for their family. Those who spoke could have been intimidated by the risk of arrest or by the anti-immigrant laws that plague the south but they put that aside to call on the conscious of Kobach, those who support his laws, and the USCCR.

They sent a clear message – they were not going to be intimidated and they were not going to let hateful laws treat them as anything less than what they deserve as human beings.  The moment was inspirational as it exemplified the power that we have as a community to stand up and confront those who continually attempt to oppress and criminalize us as immigrants.

In the days leading up to the Alabama action, we were also able to learn about the civil rights movement of the 1960s and identify parts of that history that can help guide our own movement.  At the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the Civil Rights Collection of the Nashville Public Library, we were able to have honest conversations about what it took the 60’s civil rights movement to grow.  It was exciting to have dialogue that was intergenerational since it shows that it is not only possible to work with a cross-generational community but necessary.  For example, in 1960s while some people sat in lunch counters as an act of civil disobedience against racist laws other community members contributed by providing them meals or in collecting funds for bail.  Ensuring the desegregation of lunch counters in the south was possible because the entire community became involved.  

Reviewing this part of history shows us how important it is for all community members to take part in our movement.  All of the people on the UndocuBus show time and time again that they are determined to fight for what they believe in and that fear is not a factor. I thank them for reminding me that our community is undeniably strong especially when we are united

This blog was originally posted on the Immigrant Youth Justice League website. 

Website Yes, Legal Status, No: "No Papers, No Fear" Hopes to Build a Movement for Undocumented Immigrations

One of the riders of the Undocubus facing down a policeman. Photo courtesy of No Papers, No Fear

The online video shows a man in a white sweatshirt standing in a cavernous conference room, his arms aloft holding a banner. In the background, a voice drones over a tinny public-address system.

"I'm undocumented, and I'm not afraid," the man in the sweatshirt declares.

"Thank you, sir," says that voice off-camera, "please sit down." The voice then continues to discuss the thorny subject at hand: the civil rights impact of state immigration laws that make everyday life so difficult for people without legal status in this country that they self-deport.

Gerardo Torres is a 41-year-old undocumented immigrant and activist who's been living in Phoenix, Arizona for the past 19 years. He's one of the 41 immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- who have been traveling across the country on a 10-state bus tour designed to inspire undocumented immigrants living in fear. The group hopes to bring national attention to the people suffering the consequences of this country's immigration policy through carefully planned acts of civil disobedience, publicized through social media.

The event depicted in the video was a field hearing convened by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights earlier this month in Birmingham, Ala. The voice over the public address system belonged to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom The Daily Beast has described as the "Deporter in Chief." Kobach is the legal mind behind Arizona's controversial SB 1070, a state law that made it a crime for immigrants not to carry their immigration documents with them at all times, and which also gave police broad powers to detain anyone they suspected to be in the country illegally. He's also worked with lawmakers in several other states to enact laws to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Organizers posted the stop-off in Birmingham on YouTube for the world to see in order to insert participants in the No Papers, No Fear trip, called "Undocubus," into a conversation about immigration in which undocumented immigrants themselves have until recently not been very active participants.

The YouTube video of Torres and his peers facing down the authors of some of the most controversial state-level laws targeting illegal immigrants is a prime example of the loose-knit group's organizing and media strategy. In particular, the individuals who designed the Web site and social media strategy say that they learned a lot organizing in the past couple of years against SB 1070, parts of which the Supreme Court struck down in June.

Under President Obama, 1.4 million people have been deported as of July, according to figures from Homeland Security's Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Obama has said that his administration is focused on deporting criminals and "dangerous" illegal immigrants. Obama also announced a new policy in June that defers deportation proceedings against undocumented immigrants who are under 31, came here before the age of 16, who have lived in the United States for at least five years, are in school (or have a certificate proving that they had a high school education) and don't have a criminal record. But even for those immigrants who arrived here while they were still children, the policy is a reprieve, not a pardon. Seizing on a wave of public support that seemed to begin to crest last year, when Pulitzer Prize-winning former Washington Post and Huffington Post journalist Jose Antonio Vargas announced that he was not in this country legally, immigrants without legal status here are using the Internet to assert an American identity anyway, and that the problem lies not with them but with United States policy on immigration and citizenship.

By the time that the group rolls into Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday morning, the Undocubus riders will have a Web site that has documented their adventures, and features links to the dozens of stories, editorials and newscasts that have covered their activities at each stop: The group, whose ages range from 19 to 65, started their trip in Phoenix, Ariz., with a visit to the trial proceedings against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (A group of Latinos have filed a civil suit against Arpaio accusing his officers of racial profiling. They say officers working for Arpaio pulled them over based on their race, to find out about their immigration status, without legitimate probable cause.) In Charlotte, the group intends to publicize its dissatisfaction with President Obama and the Democrats' record on immigration reform by raising a ruckus around the Democratic National Convention there. No Papers, No Fear will also hold workshops for local undocumented immigrants on subjects such as how to deal with deportation proceedings.

B. Loewe and Marco Loera, who are organizers at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, built AltoArizona.com, a web site that was the precursor to the No Papers, No Fear site, and an action center that the activists are using to draw other interested people into the project.

"What we were trying to do with Alto Arizona, and what we’re definitely doing with No Papers, No Fear is creating a platform for undocumented people to speak for themselves," Loewe said in an interview. "Undocumented people have served as the background footage for intermediaries and for advocates to opinionate about the lives of undocumented people. When SB 1070 passed, everyone had an opinion about the state of Arizona -- we wanted to make sure that there was a place for the people of Arizona where they could have their opinion read, heard and seen."

And thus the YouTube video, which is one of dozens. Some of them feature members of the group explaining who they are, and why they are involved. Others feature footage of arrests. One of the videos was released after four members of the group were arrested in Knoxville, Tennessee for blocking traffic outside of the local Sheriff JJ Jones' office. The group was protesting the sheriff's application to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take on some immigration enforcement functions against people that they arrest and find to be illegal or undocumented immigrants.

One of those arrested was 19-year-old Alejandro Guizar, who is already facing deportation proceedings, and the other three were undocumented. The YouTube video, which was released online after they were arrested, featured Guizar saying that he's not afraid. At the end of it, a message urged viewers to call the sheriff's office to let the protestors go, and to call ICE and ask them not to work with the sheriff's office. The organizers also sent a message out on theirFacebook page, which has more than 6,000 likes.

"Because we’ve been building an e-mail list, and a Facebook following and Twitter following, we’ve been able to mobilize support all across the country right away to call the sheriff and to tell him to let those people go, and to call ICE, and to tell them to have nothing to do with these people," Loewe said. "And all four of them were released by 10 p.m. that night."

Several calls and an e-mail to the sheriff's office to confirm Loewe's version of events were not returned at the time of this post.

So far, none of the shifting members of the group traveling on the bus has been sent over to ICE to be deported. And that is part of the point the activists are trying to make to their undocumented peers.

"We're trying to provide an example of how organizing can happen out of the shadows, and that even if you get arrested, if there's organizing behind you, you're not going to get deported," said Unzueta, the 28-year-old undocumented organizer on the bus with the Immigrant Youth Justice League. Unzueta was 10 when her parents brought her here. She lives in Chicago and has an undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Both her parents and her sister are with her on the bus.

While its' difficult to gauge how successful the group has been in convincing undocumented immigrants that it's safe to take political action, the group has been garnering both print and television coverage where ever they go, and they even inspired a New York Times editorial.

"The No Papers, No Fear tour is doing two things: It's creating an example of fearlessness to inspire organizing within the migrant community to say we can't wait for anyone else, that the status quo is no longer tolerable," Loewe said. "By setting such an example of courage and bravery and sacrifice and risk -- here are undocumented people willing to never see their children again if they get arrested and deported -- we would hope that that sort of risk and bravery would inspire the politicians to do more."

Their long road will continue far beyond the bus trip. One new Facebook page recently established by Daniel Martin, an out-of-work electrician in Philadelphia, seems indicative. The name of the new page? "UndocuBus is a disgrace to America. Stop Illegal Immigration." The page doesn't seem to have received much traction, but Martin is just one voice out of a wider panoply of anti-immigrant groups, including some in Washington, D.C. that claim to be representing people like him.

He blames his state of employment partly on illegal immigrants, who he says fill up the work crews on construction sites. That makes life even more difficult for him since there isn't as much construction work to go around anymore, he said in an interview.

He says he's called ICE to complain about Undocubus.

"It doesn't matter that there's a large group of illegal aliens in the country," he said. "Just because they're a large group of people, it gives them a voice, but they want to change the law in a country that they're not legally in."

Travel Notes by Julio Salgado

Source: CultureStrike.net

Julio Salgado, a DREAMer and CultureStriker, sends us a dispatch from the UndocuBus, a project of the “No Papers, No Fear” campaign, as it makes it way across the country to Charlotte, NC, site of the upcoming Democratic National Convention:

A Juanes song, “La Camisa Negra,” is blasting from a small black speaker inside the UndocuBus. Mari Cruz and Chela are seated at the front of the bus and are singing along—they know all the words, about a black shirt and a broken heart. The folks in the small bunk beds at the back of the bus are encouraging the celebration, when suddenly the iPod connected to the speaker loses its Pandora signal. That’s the thing about this ride. The unexpected is bound to occur.

UndocuBus riders on their way to Ashville, NC.

We are on our way to Ashville, NC, and already the bus has wended its way through twelve cities across the South. I’ve been on board for five days now and have already heard stories about the unpredictability of riding in Priscilla—the name given the bus. From a tire that gave out, to driving at a snail’s pace because of Priscilla’s age, you never know what adventures the riders (and Priscilla) are going to face. What we do know is that humor and laughter—and above all, the need to tell our undocumented stories—are the real fuel propelling the bus toward the DNC.

I met up with the UndocuBus in Atlanta, GA. On my way from the airport to the church that was housing the riders, I felt apprehensive. These riders had been on the road for a couple of weeks now. Friendships would have developed, and there would be inside jokes. I wasn’t present for the civil disobedience that launched the ride in Phoenix, AZ, nor for the actions in the other cities.  I didn’t want them to feel like I was an awkward latecomer, just along for the ride. Those thoughts vanished once I arrived at the church. Two men, Pancho and Jose, were painting a banner in the church’s dining area. With welcoming smiles, they asked where I was coming from and said “Bienvenido.”

Moments right after Maria Hinojosa (front) and Marisela Lou (back) were arrested during a civil disobedience infront of Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones' office in Tennessee.

Another thing I want to share: The mothers aboard Priscilla are a constant reminder of my own mother and father. In the past, we as DREAMers have blamed our parents for our situation. That is a narrative favored by politicians who in turn fuel the criminalization of our parents in the media. No mas. When I witness the bravery of people like 65-year-old Maria Hinojosa, who participated in a civil disobedience in front of Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones’ office in Tennessee, I am reminded that we are not the victims in this so-called “immigration issue.” When we speak out and ride a bus that bears the words “NO PAPERS, NO FEAR,” we reclaim the dignity that has been ripped away from us.

Banner used during the Tennessee civil disobedience, designed by CultureStriker Cesar Maxit.

Stay tuned for more of Salgado’s dispatches from the UndocuBus.

Arestados en Knoxville: Saliendo de las Sombras de 287(g)

Sharing Stories with the People of Knoxville

This series of stories (and a song!) was recorded during a community event in Knoxville Tennessee. They are examples of one part of the work that we have been doing while traveling through the southern United States.

Esta serie de historias (y una canción) fué grabada durante un evento comunitario en Knoxville, Tennessee. Son ejemplos de una parte del trabajo que hemos estado haciendo mientras viajamos por la parte sur de Estados Unidos. 

 

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.

I remember when we released dozens of live butterflies in downtown Birmingham, and once those butterflies floated out into the streets, it was their show.  They landed on the shoulders of police officers, patrol cars, on the camera lenses of photographers and some fluttered away at once.  They do what they do.  And the wonder in the eyes of all who witnessed it, it was as if somehow we all were children again for a few seconds, and we followed those rules that only children seem to know..lets things be as they are.  Be curious before you make conclusions.  And we forgot for those few seconds that we were protesting an event where our civil rights were being debated.

A few years ago I took a road trip through Mexico, and I made my way to the Monarch Sanctuary in Michoacan.  Every year they migrate across the continent, all the way up to Canada.  They return every year, just after the Day of the Dead to the mountainous forest.  By sundown, they hung in huge clumps from the trees, in for the night.  I was told that at sunrise, a loud wooooosh echos through the forest when they all awake, fluttering in the hundreds of thousands.  A gentle, undeniable force.

Recently I was asked how exactly we will be transformed by this journey.  I shrugged.  How does a caterpillar know what the colors and patterns on its butterfly wings will be?  Though it was clear that this journey, with this type of risk would have outcomes, that we all would be different on the other side its difficult to know.  Like the butterflies on a Birmingham street, who all found their way, perhaps so will we.  It may be the transformation will happen on the ride home, when we all return to what we understand as routine, or perhaps the next time a police car pulls up behind.  Not knowing and still doing is a special type of courage.  What I do know is that the transformation will be beautiful, and that there are more butterflies coming.

Read more from Marisas' notes from the No Papers No Fear Ride here.

Browning of America - Olmeca

Olmeca Offers Advanced Preview of Upcoming Album in "Browning of America" Track 
to Support No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice

As Undocumented Riders Arrive at DNC, Hip-Hop Artist Olmeca Sends Saludos and Releases New Track

Los Angeles, CA
Inspired by the undocumented participants in the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice, Hip-Hop artist, Olmeca, offers a sneak peak of the track "Browning of America" from his upcoming album, Brown is Beautiful.

In the final week of the six-week journey, undocumented riders are arriving in Charlotte, NC for the Democratic National Convention where they will continue coming out with no papers and no fear to rally the immigrant community, give a face to immigration, and insist the President do more to stop deportations.

Olmeca has been writing soundtracks to social movements like the No Papers No Fear Ride based on his own life experience growing up in South Central, East L.A. and his own role in supporting bringing Sheriff Arpaio to justice in Arizona among other migrant rights struggles.

"Olmeca's music expresses exactly what we're trying to do on this ride," explains Leticia Ramirez, an undocumented Arizonan and mother of three. "It sings the heart, soul, and beauty of our community."

Olmeca is a prolific writer who deftly depicts his upbringing and gives social commentary with energy, charisma and intelligence. In the vein of Fela Kuti, Mercedes Sosa, Nina Simone, Olmeca’s music takes its place amongst thought-provoking art that denounces the perceived mainstream culture.

Olmeca’s impoverished life in South Central, East L.A. and Rosemead, CA are shared by an entire generation. Born in Los Angeles, Olmeca’s family moved from Mexico to the U.S., becoming part of the cheap labor market in the U.S. It is a reality that provided experience, perspective and inspiration for his music and activism.“not having food to eat and living on the street, taught me the simple reality of what is just and unjust…” Olmeca says.

The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th. The riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

More info at www.olmecaone.com and www.nopapersnofear.org
Olmeca

No Papers No Fear Head to Charlotte - WBTV

WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Originally Published at WBTV

Undocumented immigrants traveling cross country to join protestors at the Democratic National Convention say "life as an undocumented person is not easy."

WBTV met Undocu-Bus... the bus bringing undocumented immigrants... as it makes it way to Charlotte. Organizers say about 37 people are coming to the DNC, 34 of whom are in the country illegally.

24 year old Natally Cruz says she and her aunt crossed the border from Mexico to America in 1996 because her aunt believed they would have a better life in the U-S.

When asked how would she respond to people who say it's too much money on taxpayers to support undocumented immigrants, Cruz says "every time I hear something I would say put yourself in my situation. How would you feel to be identified everyday for being undocumented? How would your life be to be like me."

She says, "we pay taxes all the time. We go grocery shopping - we pay taxes. Anywhere we go we pay taxes. So I don't understand where they're coming from that we're burdening the system."

Cruz and the others on Undocu-bus left Phoenix at the end of July. The bus made stops in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia. After doubling back through Tennessee, it arrived in North Carolina.

They say the bus has not been stopped by police. Riders are spending the night in Asheville and will leave for Charlotte on Saturday.

Organizers say they stop and hold rallies in communities where local residents tell them police and federal agents conduct traffic stops and check immigration status. On Friday the group held a protest outside the Jackson County Sheriff's office.

WBTV asked Gloria Esteva what does she say to people who will say she's in the country illegally and doesn't have the right to protest? Esteva says "we're not here to cause to any problems - only here to work."

Undocu-bus riders says their reasons for coming to the DNC is to put a face on immigration, and to try and stop deportations.

The man driving the bus to Charlotte - Juan Lozano - is a legal resident who once was undocumented. He says the people on board Undocu-Bus "are just looking for justice, for dignity." When asked if he's afraid of getting pulled over, Juan says "I never think about that."

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

The Lion's Side of the Story

“Until The Lion doesn’t say his side of the story, his murderer The Hunter will always get away with the Glory” African Proverb

The No papers No Fear Journey for Justice made its arrival to Atlanta, Georgia on August 22nd, and started the visit with a protest outside the Atlanta City Detention Center. This is where  victims of the collaboration between local law enforcement and immigration agents, through programs like Secure Communities, are held, sometimes for long periods of time. Here, immigrants without papers, are held in detention even after they paid their time for what ever "crime" they were accused of - often non-violent- and then turned over to immigration authorities. 

We met with several local organizations, including the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and Southerners On New Ground (SONG) to hold the protest outside the detention center, we had banners with messages such as “Immigrants are not for $ale” And of course “Sin Papeles Y Sin Miedo” (no papers no fear). At the press conference, both people from the local community, community organizers, and No Papers No Fear riders, were able to speak to the protesters and the press, including myself. 

Since we had got there I started reflecting about the detention center. You could hear the voices of the people locked up from across the street. It made me remember my own experience last year when I spent a month in a detention center in Florence, Arizona.For example, the way they are located, built and disguised so people passing by would never notice what's going on inside these buildings.

It is depressing to think about how many fathers, mothers, honest workers, students and people in general that have no reason to be there are incarcerated, and all the profit that is being made on the daily thanks to the oppression through racist, targeting, hateful laws like Alabama's HB 56, Georgia's HB 87. These these detention centers are private signing millionaire contracts with the Department Of Homeland Security, charging for detainees “housing." 

I believe it is very important to expose these private prisons and invite the community to step up, and speak out about the injustices, the abuses and the hate going on inside of these detention centers. The families that have been ripped apart because of the deportations, is time to speak, to rice our voices and not only that but take action, take the wheel of our own destiny and rebuild it our way, in a just, dignified and equal way.

Watch video of the rally here

Pricila get some love from labor

We are riding a 1972 MCI Challenger bus in our journey across the southwestern and southeastern part of the United States. This bus, who came baptized with the name ‘Priscila’ has been used in organizing tours mostly on climate justice issues. Inside she is more like an RV, with benches, a small kitchen and even bunk beds in the back.

So, it was a roll of the dice to choose a 40-year old bus to make this trip. Partly it was a gamble of necessity, because we have not counted on lots of money to make this happen. And it was also a choice, understanding the potential drawbacks. To have a schedule and route we could control, to be able to make the bus in the image and design we wanted.

But it was also, I am speaking personally here, it was also about what we want to portray. We could have eaten the cost of a chartered bus, complete with a driver and avoided lots of sleepless nights and headaches. Which, we’ve had. It was important to reflect a virtue of our community, that we roll with the punches. The fact that most of the time we don’t have all the things we need, but we get it done somehow.

So we roll out of Phoenix, baby girl lookin’ PIMP, a outside masterpiece painting project led by DeeJay Farias Portugal and Sandra Castro, where literally form the kids on up painted. The inside became a colorful collage designed by Julio Sanchez, Leticia Ramirez and Nataly Cruz. When you work for something, when you sweat for it, the value transcends dollars and cents.

Priscila overheated within the first hour. The next 72 hours, we encountered what felt like an endless mechanical glitches, a flat tire, mysterious reoccurring tail light burn outs and other things that I’ve since forgotten. It got to the point where a slow down or any pulling over generated a collective groan from the whole group.

At the outskirts of New Orleans, she gave out again. This time, we couldn’t find a mechanic who would touch her. Too old. Too busy. We developed contingency plans to keep going. Porque tampoco nos vamos a rajar. We left Priscila behind, and we waited for what felt like forever. Finding parts was slow, and as the days went by, it was clear that the mechanic we were working with was in no hurry. In the end, his conclusion that we should dump the bus.

So we dumped him. After being told we needed a new alternator, with another big bill and long timeline we came up with our own plan. Our friends at the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice jumped in to support Eucledis, our fabulous and committed driver to make the trek to Georgia.

Our hope and our theory was that we needed a city where parts and materials were more available. And that we needed a larger community network to spread the word and a find a mechanic who would understand the political purpose for this repair, prioritize it and work some magic.

We found it in Teamster member, Steve Howell.

A union member with more than 20 years of experience under his belt – he asked little questions, only needing to know that friends needed help. Within minutes he had diagnosed the problem. It wasn’t the alternator, the starter, the radiator, the engine or paranormal activity (that was a topic of discussion, btw). It was the electrical system. Several wires were loose or disconnected and as a result, any given area could go out at any given time. Steve started on a Tuesday, it was done by Friday.

Priscila now proudly wears a Teamster license plate and Eucledis rocks his Teamster shirt on the regular. And when she drove up in front of the Atlanta Detention Center where we rallied, I felt like I wanted to bear hug Steve in gratitude. Of all of the talk about solidarity, about communities connecting across issues and sectors..it seemed pretty simple here. We were literally broken down, and this person out of kindness and consciousness stepped in and with a very clear ask, made a huge difference. It means that we are now in North Carolina, making our descent into Charlotte with our dear Priscila. Even Selena knows what’s up. Listened to Carchacha lately?

4 Years Later – Why the DNC

Source: http://lafranx.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/4-years-later-why-the-dnc/

With an opponent like Mitt Romney its a valid question why we are heading to the Democratic National Convention.

The platform coming out of the Republican National Convention and the politics of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan send a clear message of where the party stands.  It represents a roll back not only to immigrant communities, it also rolls back civil and labor rights, the rights of women, bans marriage equality.  All this plus it promises more of the same economic policy continues to advantage the 1% at the cost of the 99%.

It would be easy to say then, that the Democratic Platform presents a clear alternative.  Perhaps on some issues, it does.  But its safe to say there has been deep disapointment from various sectors of the progressive movement in the party’s inability or unwillingness to be bold and present a real alternative to the lunacy of the GOP.  Still a big tent, the Democrats seem to be a party eternally in search of its soul.

During election years it is customary to make political calculations where we end up rolling more like CNN pundits rather than social movements.  Our actions are driven by the idea that we need to choose between the lesser of two evils.  And sometimes, there is an unwillingness to threaten relationships, or turn away funding to only increase the amount of voters participating in the election.  And when there is excitement over a candidate, it seems like we all believe that she or he can change the whole world overnight.

What we leave out of the equation, is us.  Not just to register voters, which is important.  Not just to vote, which is important.  But to continue to pressure, educate and agitate for the things that we want to see changed.  When President Obama was elected almost four years ago, there was an unspoken but real sentiment to let him be, to not pressure him in the beginning months.  In retrospect, it was the wrong approach.

What do I want for Obama?  I want the legacy of the first Black President of the United States to be the advancement of social and political rights for all people who have beenexcluded, who are struggling to survive and be whole and accepted participants in this place we all live.  To do these things is not always politically safe.  To do these things often times guarantees a firestorm of criticism.  To do these things, he must be forced to.  Its  a dilemma that must be posed.  A tension, a conflict.  And you know what?  That doesn’t always feel safe, it doesn’t always feel like its the right call.  Its a risk.  Tension is uncompfortable.  But for migrant communities, its not just uncomfortable, its a crisis.

And for the party in power, the party who seems eternally in search of its soul because of the deep contractions it must carry – they must make a choice.  Obama must choose his legacy, his place in history.  Will the next four years of the Obama Administration break deportation records?  More broadly, will we continue to see the right to organize dismantled?  Will we end these wars of occupation?  Will we take affirmative action to address climate change?  The list goes on.  To place this on one person is lunacy of the GOP kind, so how can we all help determine the outcomes?  Because its not just Obama’s legacy, its yours and mine.

One of the riders, Eleazar said the other day, “Vamos para contar nuestras penas.” [translation: We are going to tell of our hardships].  As the Democrats enter this convention to renew their purpose, these bus riders arrive in Charlotte fighting for their lives.  We need the Democrats to change course on the racist criminalization of our communities.  We demand an end to the InSecure Communities program, 287g.  Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio must be brought to justice.  These are lofty goals, but with many miles behind us, tears, and memories of the many stories of so many people who live this every day – we’re here to try.

This group of riders comes to say here I am.  This is how these policies have affected me, my family, my community.  To come out of the shadows and shine a light on the things no one sees, perhaps no one knows.  To tell a story in hopes of reaching understanding.  Willing to risk it all to be heard and considered.  To show we have no fear, but that we also do not hate.

So Charlotte it is.  Why not the RNC?  They’ve chosen their side of history.  The wrong one.

We can’t wait for it to be politically safe or feasible to pressure Obama and the Democrats.  We’ve come too far to go back.  There is too much to lose, and too many have been lost along the way.

What we bring to Charlotte

After 10 states and more than fifteen cities, we will arrive in Charlotte, North Carolina today.

The city is the home to one of the biggest promoters of the 287(g) deportation program. It will be host to the Democratic National Convention. And it is the place that people like Isaide Serrano, a pregnant mother of five and member of La Familia Unida who faces deportation court on Tuesday, live their lives.

Charlotte is also the site of our last week of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.

While the immigrant community and our friends have opened their doors wide to welcome us, County Commissioners Bill James and Jim Pendergraph have tried to do the opposite. In hearing about our pending arrival, James introduced a proposal to investigate students' immigration status in Mecklenburg County.  

The bill was handily voted down but what's happening in Charlotte is a microcosm of our whole journey. A city with so much potential, being held back by the backward prejudice of hateful politicians and propelled forward by good people working for change. It's a town like every town, tangled in immigration policies and trying to decide between exclusion and inclusion.

We're showing up to support Charlotte and the nation in turning that tide from hate to human rights.  We'll meet with groups resisting deportation to reach a new level of organizing and we'll continue to  risk everything to inspire officials to do more. We'll be marching against Wall Street South on Sunday, celebrating our culture on Monday, and rallying throughout next week.

When we started in Arizona we showed we were no longer afraid. In Birmingham, we showed that it's no longer acceptable to talk about about us without us.  In Knoxville, our oldest and youngest riders stood up to the spread of the deportation machine.  After so many stops, we've seen that today's immigration policies are causing a nation-wide human rights crisis and we've met migrant communities ready and strong enough to stop it.

Starting tonight, we'll bring all of that with us to Charlotte.

Immigration Rights Advocates Pull into Charlotte for the DNC

Originally published at Charlotte Observer

butterfly: migration is a human rightOne is a stay-at-home mom of three. Another is a construction worker. One is a student who hopes to attend graduate school for math and economics.

All of them risked deportation to demand greater rights for undocumented immigrants.

They, along with 22 others, arrived in Charlotte Saturday evening on the “Undocubus.”

The bus riders are part of a group of some four dozen riders who will converge on uptown Sunday for the March on Wall Street South.

The group left Phoenix in July in a small caravan led by a 1972 tour bus emblazoned with the words “Sin Papeles Sin Miedo” and “No Papers, No Fear.”

Leticia Ramirez, 27, has been arrested and released in Arizona. The mother of three who decorates cake on the side said she rode the bus to tell other undocumented workers to know their rights and how to protect themselves. She also said the bus ride has been liberating. “Since I got out of the shadows, I don’t feel afraid of what might happen,” she said.

As the bus pulled up to El Siloe church off of Eastway Drive, bus riders waved out the windows, cheering and fist-pumping as they were greeted outside by about 30 people holding signs and cheering them in welcome.

“No papers!” they yelled. Others responded, “No fear!”

The group’s five-week ride has already led to arrests: Four of the group were arrested in Knoxville, Tenn., last week after disrupting a political meeting, but they were subsequently released.

Aside from the presence of the Democratic National Convention, Mecklenburg County represents an attractive place to protest for several reasons.

The county has a growing Hispanic population, and the county was one the earliest participants in the 287 (g) program, which means the sheriff’s office screens all arrestees for their citizenship status.

Those found to be in the country illegally can be referred to federal authorities for deportation.

Jim Pendergraph, who served as Mecklenburg County Sheriff for 13 years and is now a county commissioner, was the first to bring 287 (g) to the east coast in 2006.

“I think it’s outrageous that they’re thumbing their nose at federal and United States law by parading themselves around the country and advertising that they’re illegal aliens in the country, and no one is taking action against them,” Pendergraph said.

He said he’s heard that local law enforcement was told not to arrest people on the Undocubus.

“Actually, I’ve spoken to people from Homeland Security, and that’s what people have told them, is hands off,” he said.

Since May 2006, 20,710 inmates at Mecklenburg County Jail have been identified as undocumented immigrants.

“Our numbers have actually decreased over the years, and we believe that is due to a positive working relationship with both the immigrant community and media,” said Julia Rush, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, in an email.

Immigration has also become a more prominent national issue, since President Barack Obama issued an order staying deportations for many undocumented immigrants who came here as children.

STAFF WRITER ELY PORTILLO CONTRIBUTED.

 

 

Charlotte to Greet No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice Upon Arrival

Cross-Country Journey of Undocumented People and Allies to Enter County with 287(g) Deportation Program to meet with local community and rally during the DNC

What: No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice Arrives to Community Greeting in Charlotte, first event of week-long activities including cultural celebration, community exchange, and protest
Where: El Siloe Church, 2633 Eastway Dr, Charlotte, NC.
When: Bus is anticipated to arrive at 5:00pm Saturday, September 1st.
Who: The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice and the Charlotte Welcoming Committee
Visuals: People making banners and butterfly signs, a full-sized bus painted with "No Papers No Fear" on the side, riders of the cross-country journey unloading and speaking

Charlotte, NC -- The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is a national delegation of undocumented people and allies that left Phoenix, Arizona on the anniversary of the state's implementation of SB1070, July 29th. By the time it arrives in Charlotte, it will have crossed 10 states and stopped in 15+ cities to come out publicly as having no papers and no fear, meet with migrant communities who have been impacted by anti-immigrant laws and policies and to challenge the authorities who have promoted them to move away from politics of exclusion and toward inclusion.

The riders are undocumented people from all over the country and their allies, including mothers, fathers, day laborers, people in deportation proceedings, students, and many others who continue to face threats of deportation, harassment, and death while simply looking for a better life in the only nation many of them know and call home.

By taking on a journey where riders ranging in age from 19 to 65 are willing to risk everything, they hope to inspire organizing among the migrant community and to inspire political officials to do more to relieve the suffering caused by deportation policies.

The riders will arrive in Charlotte, located in a county with a 287(g) deportation program that merges local law enforcement with federal immigration authority and undermines community trust in police, resulting in profiling and family separation, in time for the Democratic National Convention. Over the weekend, riders will hold exchanges with local community members who face the threat of deportation, including Isaide Serrano, a pregnant mother of 5 and member of La Familia Unida who will be in immigration court on Tuesday as the DNC opens.

The No Papers No Fear Riders will participate in the March on Wall Street South on Sunday and hold a community celebration at Fiesta Jalisco/Skandalo's on Monday night with a performance of the day laborer band, los Jornaleros del Norte. Additional rallies and protests for next week will be announced at a later date.

All events below are open to the media, further availability upon request.

September 1

4:00pm Charlotte Welcomes the No Papers No Fear Riders
El Siloe Church, 2633 Eastway Dr. Charlotte, NC
(bus is estimated to arrive near 5pm)
8:00pm No Papers No Fear Riders to Attend the Festival Liberación, 15th & Davidson, Charlotte, NC

September 2

11:00am No Papers No Fear Immigrant Rights Contingent in the March on Wall Street South
Rally starts at 11am, bus to arrive at 12, March leaves at 1pm
Frazier park ,1201 West 4th Street Ext Charlotte, NC 28202
https://www.facebook.com/events/434718556571531/

6:00pm Community Celebration at the Latin American Coalition
4938 Central Avenue Charlotte, NC 28205
No Papers No Fear riders will celebrate and exchange with Latin American Coalition, La Familia Unida, United for the Dream, and others

September 3

6:00pm Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo Festival de canto, poesia, y arte // No Papers No Fear Concert
Conozca a los viajeros del undocubus // Meet the riders
Vea a la exhibición de arte // see the art exhibit Escucha la música de los Jornaleros del Norte // dance to the jornaleros del norte
Restaurante Fiesta Jalisco/Skandalo's 317 E. Independence Blvd, Charlotte, NC https://www.facebook.com/events/361385353938639/ (This will be the major public community event)

September 4 - 6 Additional events to be announced

More information on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice is available at www.nopapersnofear.org and follow @undocubus on twitter for updates.

‘Undocubus’ Dreamers arrive to be heard at Democratic Convention

Source: Voxxi.com


Isela Meraz is one of the undocumented immigrants riding in the Undocubus across America, which arrived in Charlotte, NC, for the Democratic National Convention this weekend.For five weeks, a stay-at-home mom of three, a construction worker, a student who aspires to attend graduate school and more than 20 others risked deportation to travel on a “undocubus” across the country—for a cause.

Now they want their voices to be heard at the Democratic National Convention.

Their journey is called the “No Papers, No Fear Ride for Justice.” They say it is intended to call attention to the abuses that undocumented immigrants, like them, face due to tough state immigration laws and treatment by authorities.

They’ve been riding a 1972 bus dubbed “undocubus” that left from one of the worst battlegrounds, Arizona, in July and—after making stops in 10 states and more than 15 cities—arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, this weekend. Their plan is to attend the Democratic National Convention Sept. 4-6. They chose that political powwow over the Republican National Convention because they want to have a voice at the convention. Tania Unzueta, one of the undocubus riders, told VOXXI last month that the Democratic Party is “a place where immigrants are supposed to be welcomed.”

“If they’re serious about protecting immigrant rights during the next presidency, we think there should be voices of undocumented immigrants at the convention,” she said referring to Democrats.

Throughout their trip, the bus riders have been publicly revealing their undocumented status and encouraging others to do the same.

In one protest last month, four of them were arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, while proclaiming they were “undocumented and unafraid” during a briefing on the impact of state-based immigration laws. The briefing was held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and included the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is the author of several Arizona-style immigration laws, as one of the panelists. The arrestees were released right away.

“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,” Mari Cruz Jimenez, one of the protesters, cried out in Spanish at the briefing as she held up a short banner that read “undocumented” with both hands. “I am a mother, a responsible mother … I am not a criminal, and I am here to defend my rights.”

The undocubus riders—some of whom are dreamers that qualify for deferred action and some of whom are not—have also visited several migrant communities that have been impacted by what they call “anti-immigrant laws and policies.” Together they’ve challenged the local authorities who have favored such laws and policies.

In Charlotte, it won’t be any different. They have two days before the Democratic National Convention begins, so in the meantime they have several protests planned including one against the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office for it’s 287 (g) program, a federal program allows local authorities to ask for a person’s immigration status during arrests.

The group will soon announce other events they have planned for the Democratic National Convention.

Undocumented DNC Protestors Run the Risk of Deportation

Originally published at WBTV

dignityTwo questions determine the destiny of Mecklenburg County jail inmates.

Sheriff Chipp Bailey explained to WBTV Friday, "There are two (questions) that ask if they are born in the United States, or if they are citizens of the United States?"

Bailey says an answer of "no" means the federal government will then step in.

"If they are found to be in the country undocumented - we're gonna contact Immigration Customs Enforcement."

WBTV also spent part of the day Friday with a group headed to Charlotte for the DNC on the "Undocu-Bus"...their slogan? "No papers, no fear".  They're coming to Uptown to weigh in on the immigration debate. You can read their story here.

The question is, what will the Undocu-Bus protesters face when they reach Charlotte?

Charlotte Attorney Christopher Connelly has handled clients in similar situations.

"The law is applied uniformly for better or worse, "he said. "If they're arrested, they will be screened, and if they're here illegally they do risk getting an ice hold on them."

Eventually they could be deported under the controversial 287(g) program.

"I really hope when they get into town that they talk to some of the local activists who know me and how we operate this program," Bailey said.

He believes his office is just a broker of information. "The sheriff's office does not deport people. We merely report them to ICE, and ICE follows their criteria for what to do," Bailey said.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

Enfrentando Leyes Anti-Inmigrantes Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo

Esperaba con entusiasmo unirme a la caravana por la justicia, y viajar en el “Undocubus” y conocer a los “riders” por quienes sentía profunda admiración y respeto por su determinado valor, y por que mis dos hijas han estado en el camión por las ultimas 6 semanas. Llegué el domingo 26 de Agosto a Atlanta a las 4 de la mañana y salimos rumbo a Knoxville, Tennessee.

Durante el viaje todos íbamos catando alegres y optimistas. Llegamos a una iglesia donde se nos dio un espacio para dormir y siempre tuvimos el cariño de los numerosos voluntarios que preparaban abundantes desayunos y exquisitas comidas. Cuanto respeto me inspiraron, querían saberlo todo. De donde veníamos, querían escuchar nuestras historias, querían que supiéramos que ellos nos apoyaban plenamente.

En Knoxville todos los compañeros del camión Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo organizados en diferentes comités estaban siempre ocupados, organizando, escribiendo, preparándose en todo momento.

En Knoxville la gente de al comunidad nos conto que el Sheriff no se había querido reunir con ellos para hablar del daño que causaba el programa de 287(g), o la implementación de “Comunidades Seguras”. Aunque 287(g) ya no existe en la mayor parte del país, el Sheriff de Knoxville esta buscando obtener aprobación del gobierno federal para implementar esta política, y así darle poderes de inmigración a los Sheriffs del Condado Knox.

Así decidimos colaborar en una serie de acciones para presionar al Sheriff: Una conferencia de prensa, seguida por una acción de desobediencia civil pacifica y un rally. Todo fue muy rápido y bien organizado.

Ve la acción que se tomo aquí:

Por la tardé todos habían salido, estábamos orgullosos por la solidaridad que habíamos dado con la comunidad y por la solidaridad que ellos nos habían brindado.

El jueves por la mañana salimos rumbo a Asheville, Carolina del Norte. Ahí la gente nos recibió con pancartas con el símbolo de las mariposas monarcas, con mucho entusiasmo, y con la comida que los voluntarias habían preparado. Por la tarde compartimos nuestras historias. De allí partimos hacia un restaurant en el que habían arrestado y puesto en proceso de deportación a trabajadores durante una redada de inmigración.

El viernes por la mañana fuimos a la oficina del Sheriff del condado de Jackson para hablar con el, como no nos recibió hicimos una protesta frente a su oficina.

Ve el video de la protesta aquí:

Fue interesante ver como cada uno de nuestros compañeros pedía hablar con el sheriff presentándose con su nombre y diciéndole “no tengo pálpeles, y no tengo miedo”. Nunca voy a olvidar esa frase.

La gente de la comunidad nos había comentado que en esta región el Sheriff había estado poniendo retenes en las carreteras por donde los Latinos pasaban, y en frente de la guardería de donde los trabajadores llegaban a sus hijos. Por eso fuimos a visitarlo. Fue una experiencia muy interesante.

El Sábado 1º de septiembre salimos rumbo a Charlotee, Carolina de Norte, donde la comunidad nos recibió con el mismo cariño y entusiasmo que encontrábamos en todas partes. En todos los lugares en que nos detuvimos encontramos familias que estaban sufriendo las consecuencias de la política de inmigración. En cada acción en la que participamos con la comunidad de cada localidad, a dejado la idea clara de que tenemos que enfrentar, sin papeles, y sin miedo, las políticas e inmigración, como una herramienta elemental de la organización de la comunidad inmigrante.

Where I am From, A Poem

This is a poem by Jorge A. read at the open mic event by la Coalicion Latino Americana and United for a Dream in Charlotte, North Carolina, performed at the welcoming of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice on September 3, 2012.

Where I am from

I am from Gabriel and Ignacia feeding me mis frijoles machucados con arroz  y queso.

Yo soy de tortillas hechas a mano que se acen en picadas

I am from playing loteria and losing all my money

I am from my father lisening to Ana Gabriel, Marco Antonio Solis, and  “bidi bidi bom bom” to my mother playing Los Tigres del Norte

I am from “Jorge levantate para la escuela, no te voy a decir otra ves.”

I am from my sister saying “you’re so stupid omg pinche pendejo.”

I am from finding Comet, Clorox, and Fabuloso under the bathroom sink

I am from going to ATL every summer to visit family

I am from losing my whole family in México when I moved to Cali to losing my brother and sister when I moved here

I am from being pushed by the cops because they wanted my brother, from losing my father almost a year now to deportation and standing in the streets alone waiting for my mother to come for me

I am from now being eligible to be able to work and go to college and get a driver’s license

I am from finally being able to provide for my family and two beautiful little nieces.

March on Wall Street South



As our first action in Charlotte, North Carolina, we marched for immigrant rights in Charlotte. As part of the March on Wall Street South, we said ‘Sin papeles y sin miedo’ and called for the private prisons and the politicians to stop profiting off of our community’s suffering.

Undocumented Latinos end protest tour of south at Democratic convention

'No Papers No Fear' group reach Charlotte, North Carolina after six weeks of holding rallies and confronting prejudice. 

For the past 15 years Miguel Guerra has been living in the shadows as an undocumented Latino immigrant in the US. He kept out of view, avoided public places and never spoke his mind to anyone outside his immediate family.

Not any more.

Under a blazing North Carolina sun, Guerra joined almost 50 other undocumented Latino immigrants on a Sunday in a park on the outskirts of Charlotte, the North Carolinan venue of this week's Democratic national convention. It was in effect a mass coming out ceremony.

For the past six weeks the group has been riding across the American south in a converted Greyhound bus bearing the slogan: "No Papers No Fear". They have stopped in about 20 cities in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia before arriving in North Carolina, holding rallies and confronting anti-Latino prejudice along the way.

"We're no longer afraid to say we are undocumented," Guerra declared.

For a busload of unauthorised immigrants to ride openly through some of these areas is no joke, even in 2012. Several of the states – notably Arizona where the journey began, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia – have been at the forefront of the push across the southern states to tighten immigration laws with the express intention of driving out thousands of illegal Latinos back to Mexico.

Guerra knows firsthand how perilous the journey was. Early on in the ride he and three other members of the No Papers No Fear group held a civil disobedience protest outside the courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona where Sheriff Arpaio, the controversial architect of harsh policing methods against undocumented Latinos, was at that time on trial for alleged civil rights abuses.

Guerra, 36, was arrested, paradoxically handed over to Arpaio's own police department, which in turn passed him to the immigration authorities. He was detained for three days and is still immersed in deportation proceedings. Had he known that he would be arrested and potentially deported, he insists he still would have gone ahead with the bus ride. "They want to criminalise me, but we are showing that I'm not the criminal, Arpaio is."

Would he still think the protest was worth it should he be deported back to Baja California, the region of Mexico from which he came aged 21 to try his luck in the US? "Yes. At least I know I played a part in history here, and can leave with my head held high."

Organisers of the bus ride, from a coalition of the National Day Laborer Organisation, Puente and other groups, designed the journey to begin in Arizona, the state that led the anti-illegal immigrant offensive with its notorious law SB 1070. They decided to end the trip at the Democratic national convention in Charlotte, rather than in Tampa where the Republicans convened last week, because they hoped to have more impact attempting to influence the Democratic debate.

There have been sparks during the six weeks of the ride. After the arrests in Phoenix, there was further confrontation with police in Knoxsville, Tennessee, where riders carried out a protest outside the office of Sheriff JJ Jones, who has plans to implement a deportation program known as 287(g).

Four were arrested, including two undocumented people, though they were later released.

The bus also stopped in Sylva in the west of the state of North Carolina. The organisers of the ride had heard that the sheriff there, Jimmy Ashe, had been erecting check points outside Latino neighbourhoods in the area where the police, backed up by immigration officials, were conducting random searches of papers.

When the bus riders asked local Latinos to join them in rallying outside the sheriff's office, they were told that the inhabitants of Sylva were too scared of retribution to speak out in public. But by the end of the protest, many local residents had come and joined the rally.

"That was a microcosm of this whole bus tour is about," said one of the organisers, Marisa Franco. "It's about taking the risk and showing that speaking out is more effective than hiding in the shadows."

Natally Cruz, one of the riders, said that when she first joined the bus she was frightened about what would happen to her. Now 25, she came to Arizona from Mexico when she was eight years old and has lived there without authorisation ever since.

She will be applying for deferred action under President Obama's new executive order that will allow young Latinos aged 15 to 30 who are studying in college to postpone any threat of deportation for two years and gain work permits. She is grateful to Obama for that, but calls on the president to extend the reform to include older members of her family, six of whom who have faced deportation and one of whom is currently in detention.

She recalls the moment she joined the first sit-down protest at the start of the bus ride. "I was scared of what they would do to me. But once I sat down and started to shout out I felt a great surge of energy – it was like a heavy stone I'd been carrying on my back had been lifted off me."

Original story publisehd at the Guardian.

The Undocumented Bus: In Charlotte, A Different Kind Of Coming Out

Originally Published at NPR.org

The bus is always the center of attention. Partly because it's a hulking 1970s tour bus that somehow made it from Arizona all the way to Charlotte, but mostly because of what's inscribed on the side of it in thick, black letters.

"Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo," it reads in Spanish. "No papers, no fear."

Carrying a bunch of undocumented activists, the bus rolled through the country, through states like Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, and into Charlotte on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

The activists participated in a march that snaked through Charlotte on Sunday, and by Monday, they had moved to a church that was hosting them about eight miles from the city.

That's where I met 21-year-old Fernando López. He came to the country illegally when he was in his teens. He came to the U.S. to reunite with his brother, whom he had not seen in 10 years. But then he was stopped for a traffic violation in Arizona, and ended up in jail and with deportation orders.

"This bus," he said, "is just a bit of civil disobedience." It's a bold statement for sure. The "no papers, no fear" refrain emerged from the activists fighting the stringent anti-immigration laws that were first passed in Arizona.

If you remember, it was in June of last year that Jose Antonio Vargas, a prominent journalist, came out as an illegal immigrantin a splashy New York Times Magazine piece. That propelled a generation of young immigrants who were educated in the United States to declare publicly that they were in the country illegally. It put pressure on the White House, and earlier this summer, Obama announced that he was ordering a stop to the deportation of some young immigrants.

This bus tour — called the Undocu-Bus — is a kind of culmination of the movement.

"We have been traveling like this for over a month, and we have gotten a lot of attention, and I think we're showing that we have no fear," he said. "As one writer said, 'When we lose fear, they lose their power.' They can't really intimidate us anymore."

López walks into the bus. It's incredibly hot. Within minutes, there's sweat running down his forehead. He walks through it showing it off like a proud parent. "Priscila" is her name, he says. There are four small couches, and toward the back there's a fridge that doesn't work and a stove that doesn't work. López says the six-week cross-country trek has been uncomfortable at times, but it's doing its job, bringing attention to an issue that he says comes up every election cycle, but never gets addressed.

"Were not here to beg or to ask, like we have been doing for many years, for immigration reform," he said. "We're here to put an option to President Obama on the table, which is to be on the right side of history."

Maria Cruz Ramírez, 46, rode on the Undo-bus for six weeks.
Eyder Peralta/NPR

Maria Cruz Ramírez, 46, rode on the Undo-bus for six weeks.

Maria Cruz Ramírez, 46, was also on the bus. She said that in the past, she would reveal her legal status quietly. But increasingly, aggressive laws in different states, she said, have made her more vocal.

She has three kids — two of them college-age, all of them undocumented. She says along the way, she's learned a lot about organizing and mobilizing a community. She said they met with some black civil rights leaders, and in some ways that helps explains the new, uncompromising message they're sending with this bus tour.

Ramírez certainly uses the arguments that immigration reform proponents have used for years. She says that immigrants come to the United States to work, and all she wants is a "dignified existence."

But when I ask her if she's not afraid that by riding on that bus she might end up deported to her native Mexico, she gives a firm response.

"No," she said. "I'm not scared, because this is a question of human rights."

She points to the bus. Along with the refrain, the group painted monarch butterflies. Like many of the people in the group, Ramírez is also wearing a monarch butterfly pin.

The butterflies have become their symbol, because every year they trek from the United States to Mexico, unimpeded by borders or policy.

 

The Nation: Undocubus at the DNC


Some 800 people gathered in Charlotte's Frazier Park and marched to Uptown, where the Democratic National Convention kicks off on Tuesday. Environmental justice, immigration, labor, education, anti-war, and Occupy activists spent nearly four hours in the streets despite an overwhelming amount of police and other security forces.

The march marked the first major protest for Undocubus riders. The bus made its way from Phoenix, Arizona, picking up riders along the way from various states in the South in the past month. The activists are calling for the immigration reform that President Obama promised when he first ran for office. Watch the full video to learn more about Undocubus and visit NoPapersNoFear.org to get involved.

Undocumented Mother of Dream-Eligible Youth Announces DNC Civil Disobedience Plans Live on Democracy Now This Morning

Charlotte, NC

In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now this morning, undocumented No Papers No Fear Rider, Rosi Carrasco, announced her intent to participate in group civil disobedience during the DNC despite Charlotte's participation in the federal 287(g) and Secure Communities deportation programs that merge local police with immigration enforcement.

After the show, Carrasco explained, "It was my children that taught me that making change requires taking risks and the status quo of mass deportation constitutes a human rights crisis we can no longer tolerate. I and others have made our decision. Regardless of what happens, I know what legacy I'm leaving my children; one of teaching them to defend their rights.  The President has to make his decision. What will be his legacy on immigration? Will his administration oversee our deportation or our inclusion? We want him to be the one to find a way to include millions who are working for a better life in this country. We don't want his legacy to be that of his first four years; the President who has deported more people than anyone else in US history. We want him to be on the right side of history."

No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice participants have risked arrest over the past six weeks as they travelled from Arizona through more than 10 states and 16 cities to rally the migrant community, beared witness to the impact of police/ICE collaboration, and challenge the proponents of anti-immigrant policies. The tour began with four participants being arrested in civil disobedience during Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio's racial profiling trial.

Sheriff Bailey of Mecklenburg County where Charlotte is located has stated that he will turn undocumented people who are arrested defending their communities' civil rights over to ICE despite the administration's claim that immigration authorities are using discretion in who is placed in deportation proceedings.

Live updates available at @undocubus

###

DNC Profiles: Kemi from Houston

Source: Colabradio.mit.edu

“Being black and undocumented is an uncommon intersection.” — Kemi Bello

DNC Profiles: Kemi from Houston

Name: Kemi Bello

Party affiliation: None. I am comfortable existing outside of any political ideology.

Where are you coming from? Houston, Texas, but I am originally from Lagos, Nigeria.

How did you get to Tampa? Undocubus came to Texas on their journey across the United States. I connected with them in Austin and decided to join them. I knew about them because I’m involved with the DREAMers. I took a flight from Texas to Atlanta, but when I got there, Undocubus was already in Tennessee.  So I got on the MARTA at ATL and took it to the Greyhound Station, where I picked up a bus to Knoxville. Once I got to the Knoxville bus station, I hopped a cab to the nearby Unitarian Universalist Church where I found my travel companions.  The only thing I didn’t do is ride a bike!

Why are you here?
Listen to Kemi’s spoken-word poem about why she is on the Undocubus to Charlotte:

CoLab Radio is profiling people who are standing outside of the Republican or Democratic National Convention with a message, a mission, or an item for sale. Post by Alexa Mills.

10 Undocumented No Papers No Fear Riders Arrested for Defending Civil Rights, Supporters Call on President and ICE to Be on the Right Side of History, Use Discretion and Do Not Pursue Deportation of Community Leaders

Charlotte, NC Today 10 No Papers No Fear Riders were arrested in civil disobedience defending the civil rights of the migrant community at the entryway to the Democratic National Convention. After a short march, they placed a banner reading "No Papers No Fear" at the entrance of a checkpoint to the convention where they were arrested by Charlotte police. Due to the federal deportation program 287(g) that conscripts local police into immigration enforcement, their arrest could lead to their deportation if the administration does not honor its stated policy of discretion.

In a statement the group made online, they explain,  "We came out because we are tired of the mistreatment. We are tired of waiting for change and we know that it never comes without risk or without sacrifice.

We know what is at stake in our actions. We know that the Republicans have decided to completely turn their back on our communities.  We also know that President Obama's legacy on immigration is undecided.

We want him to be on the right side of history. And we know that it is the effort of our organized communities that will make that happen.  We want him to be remembered as the one who found the way to include the millions struggling for a better life in this country, not to be remembered as the President who deported more people than anyone else in the history of the country.

We want President Obama to use his executive authority to provide relief from our entire community, students, parents, and all of us."

High resolution photos will be available shortly at http://flickr.com/nopapersnofear. More information at nopapersnofear.org. Follow @undocubus

Biographies of the Riders are Below

Kitzia Esteva was born in Mexico D.F. and came to California nine and a half years ago to reunite with her family. Her mom, sister and two nephews came two years before seeking treatment for her nephew diagnosed with leukemia. She is now 25 and living in Los Angeles, California. She remembers being stopped by the police one for not wearing a seatbelt, and fearing that she would be identified as an undocumented immigrant if fingerprinted. For her, being undocumented has meant not being able to work legally to help her family, losing work opportunities, being employed as a domestic worker, and being afraid to be separated from her family. Her mother, who is also on the bus, has helped her be active in social justice struggles by setting an example. As Kitzia got involved in community organizations she began to learn that what she had experienced as undocumented was happening to many, and that there is power in organizing. Kitzia is on the bus for her family, and “because it is a powerful way to confront the way immigrants are treated and change the conversation of criminalization towards one of dignity.”

Rosi Carrasco has made a home for her family in Chicago IL for the past 18 years. She came to the US to reunite her two daughters with her husband, who had taken a job in Chicago. In Mexico, Rosi workers doing education research and planning. Now she works organizing the Latino community to fight for their rights. She has seen all the obstacles her daughters have overcome to finish their studies in this country due to their immigration status, and supports their struggles and decisions as best as she can. “I think it’s important to show solidarity with the struggle the youth have done for access to education, and show solidarity with the workers fighting for their right to jobs with dignity. I believe we should keep organizing our communities, even in an electoral year”

In 1994  Martin Unzueta was offered a job in Chicago IL. He thought in this country there would be better educational opportunities for his children. In Mexico Martin had a small company that made books and paper. The company was not doing so well, it was hard to compete with bigger companies and government officials’ corruption hindered the business’ functions;  It became harder to sustain his family. In Chicago, Martin is the executive director of a non for profit organization that helps to organize and defend workers rights in their workplace.  He is on the bus because “I want other communities to hear our stories of how we have helped to organize and support workers in Chicago, and the necessity for each community to protect the rights we have at work. We need to learn to use the tools we do have to defend these rights.”

Yovani Diaz Tolentino came to the US  when he was 5 months old with his mother, looking for better financial opportunities, a better job and life. Now 20 years old, Yovani has lived in Roswell, Georgia for 12 years. He cleans houses and works with the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA), an undocumented youth led organization that support the undocumented community in Georgia. He is on the bus “to change the perspective of voters and fight for justice, helping to obtain an immigration reform that benefits America as a whole, including undocumented people.”

Gerardo Torres is a self-employed handyman and community health promoter who has lived in Phoenix, AZ for the last 18 years, after staying after the time limit of a tourist visa.  He is a member of the Puente Human Rights Movement and 3rdSpace, a group of queer brown migrants working to make their community visible.  “I want people to know that the queer undocumented community is also affected by these laws.  I want people in my communities to let go of their fear and to learn how to defend their human rights. It is a time for a change in the immigration laws: the status quo is not an option anymore.  We have to move because we are in crisis, what is happening is not working anymore.

Maria Cruz Ramirez arrived in Phoenix, AZ with her three children just a few months before September 11, 2001 to be with her husband. She worked as a stylist in our own salon in Hidalgo, Mexico, and had hoped to have better opportunities for work in the U.S. She has been unable to find work for the last eleven years because she is undocumented. Two of her three children participated in a coming out of the shadows civil disobedience in Phoenix in March. She has been a member of the Arizona Dream Guardians, a group of parents of DREAM Act-eligible youth who fundraised for their children’s educations, and she hopes to start a new parents’ group in the future that is a community defense committee and a way to increase their children’s education opportunities. She says, “Me and my children, we give each other strength, and we struggle together.  I’m going on the bus because I want a life with dignity and a just job for myself, for my family, and for my people.  I fight for those who come after me.”

Eleazar Castellanos has lived in Tucson, AZ since 1996.  He studied computer programming and technical analysis in Nogales, Sonora, and moved to the U.S. when he completed his studies in order to have more economic opportunities for himself and his now-adult daughter.  He works as a day laborer, and has watched his wages fall dramatically as the economic crisis and anti-immigrant climate in Arizona worsen.  He watches people in his community be racially profiled by Border Patrol every day, and so, for the last year, he has been a member of a group of  day laborers in Tucson organizing to fight for their rights.  He says, “I am going on the bus to come out of the shadows, to make the President hear our community’s voice, and so that we can move forward and make all of our lives better. We all deserve jobs with justice and dignity.”

Julio Cesar Sanchez lives in Chicago, IL and has been living in the U.S. for nine years. He came to the U.S. at the age of 15 with his mother after his parents’ divorce, despite a difficult border crossing. His mother sought to reunite with her family here and get away from a domestic violence situation.  He faced discrimination and bullying when he first arrived in Texas at school, and, while living in Florida, was put in jail for driving without a license.  These experiences made him decide to take action for his community.  He now organizes with the immigrant community in Chicago teaching people their rights. He says, “I’m riding the Undocubus to show myself, my family, and everyone else that is dealing with the same struggle I am that we can make a change. I believe it is time to end our fear.”

Gloria Esteva was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. While she was there she was already working with her community, specifically defending worker’s rights. She came to the United States to support her grandson, who became sick with leukemia after a petroleum leak in his native state of Veracruz. She moved with him to San Francisco, where she spent the next four years taking care of him and writing about his life. She considers herself a community organizer who tries to talk to people in ways and language that they understand. She says that as she has gotten to know the people of the United States, she has realized that there are many who believe in justice, and that them and everyone in the country should think about the contributions that immigrants have made to their personal lives, and realize that “we deserve dignity and respect.” She is on the bus with her daughter because she is tired of living in the shadows, and wants her community to know that she organizes and lives without fear despite not having immigration documents.

N. Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco has been living in Chicago, IL for 18 years, since coming to the US at the age of 7 in 1994 with her family. At the age of 25 Ireri works as a part time grant writer, amateur horticulturist,  and with the Immigrant Youth Justice League, a chicago based undocumented youth led organization. “I am riding the bus because I refuse to keep on limiting myself by the unjust laws that refuse to see my humanity and recognize that undocumented immigrants are as much a part of the community as everyone else. ”

No Papers, No Fear: Undocumented Immigrant Activists Arrested Outside DNC

Source: AlterNet.org

An immigrants rights campaign is traveling the U.S. by bus to bring awareness to the terror undocumented people live with daily.

Ten undocumented immigrants were arrested on Tuesday afternoon outside the Democratic National Convention, amid chants of “Undocumented, unafraid!” and “No papers, no fear!”

Around 3:30pm, several dozen activists marched to the corner of East 5th and College Street in Charlotte, North Carolina, just blocks from where the DNC was being held, and blocked the intersection to protest President Obama's deportation policy. They unfurled a banner that read “Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo” ("no papers, no fear") laid it on the street, and began chanting, singing and telling their stories. Within the hour, 10 undocumented people were taken into police custody. They were released Wednesday morning with a charge of impeding traffic, a misdemeanor. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official was contacted about the case, but decided not to pursue steps toward deportation.

The No Papers, No Fear tour – known on social media as the UnDocuBus – has been traveling throughout the South and Southwestern United States to bring awareness to the terror that undocumented people live with every day. States like Arizona and villains like Sheriff Joe Arpaio have gained notoriety for their brutal treatment of immigrants, but much of the tour's focus has been on President Obama and his yet unfinished legacy on deportation.

“They were arrested blocks away from the DNC,” Tania Unzueta, the press coordinator for the group, said, describing the day's action. “They were asking the president which side he will be on. If he will be on the side of history where he is remembered as the president who has deported the most people in U.S. history, or if he'll be on the side of history where we'll remember him as a friend of immigrants who recognizes our dignity.”

Unzueta, 28, who is undocumented, was arrested in Washington, DC, at an action earlier this year pressuring President Obama to pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act, which has not been signed into law, has four basic requirements that, if met, allow undocumented children to gain full citizenship, according to DreamActivist.org: 1) that you entered the country before age 16; 2) you graduate from high school or get a GED; 3) have no criminal record; and 4) have at least five years of continuous presence in the U.S.

On Tuesday, Unzueta's mother, father and younger sister were arrested in the planned civil disobedience.

“I'm worried about their immediate well-being,” Unzueta told me late Tuesday evening. “They're together, and that helps. I also know they were mentally prepared to go through this, and that helps as well, but now the question is, what do we need to do to make sure they do get out?" 

Another mother and daughter were arrested Tuesday afternoon as well. As they were led to the police van, the daughter, a young woman in her mid-20s, shouted, “Organize!” She beamed as she shouted to the crowd to pressure Obama to stop his record pace of deportations, her mother, also handcuffed, just a few feet in front of her. Despite the many arrests that have occurred related to the No Papers, No Fear campaign, none have resulted in deportation. Tania Unzueta and others say that getting arrested deliberately, with the community ready to take action, is safer than an anonymous arrest – a threat undocumented immigrants face on a daily basis.

“We want to stop deportations,” Isela Meraz said shortly after the arrests. “We want them to stop separation of families, collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and police.”

Section 287(g), enacted in 1996 but largely unimplemented until after 9/11, “allows the federal government to enter into agreements with state

and local law enforcement agencies, allowing them to deputize local officials to enforce federal immigration law,” according to a report by the National Council of La Raza. The Obama administration took the enforcement one step further with a program known as Secure Communities, whose goal ostensibly was to target and deport the most dangerous criminals. Many activists think this program has led to an increase in racial profiling and demonizing jailed undocumented immigrants, regardless of the specifics of their cases.

The president's executive order to defer action for those who would qualify for the DREAM Act was seen as a major victory, one that many on the UnDocuBus organized and went to jail for, but they say the next step is opening the same avenues to the parents who are excluded from the DREAM Act. And one potential negative consequence of the act is that it could actually increase the number of adults who are deported, if the Obama administration wants to keep its numbers high.

The language of “no papers, no fear,” not only accurately depicts the determination of the activists on the tour, but it also serves as a way to expunge the fear they live with on a daily basis. “I was tired of being in the shadows,” Leticia Ramirez said, describing her decision to come out as undocumented. Ramirez, who was born in Mexico, lives in Arizona. “One of my friends from elementary [school] didn't know I [didn't have papers]. And I told her, yeah, I'm undocumented, and it's been hard for me to be undocumented for 18 years. And then I never heard from her again.”

Kemi Bello, who is Nigerian-born, moved to Houston with her family when she was in second grade. “For me, things didn't really change until high school,” when she began apply for college. The applications had check boxes for US citizens, permanent resident or international student. “There was no fourth checkbox for 'other.'”

Once an arrest happens, the UnDocuBus people begin engaging the community by calling the local precincts, gathering signatures and getting their message out through traditional and social media. In this case, ICE didn't pursue deportation, giving more evidence to the activists' argument that their strategies are working.

“We've done everything,” said Nattaly Cruz. “We've marched, we've talked, we've had hunger strikes. What else do we have to do to let the president know that we don't want any more families separated?”

John Knefel is the co-host of Radio Dispatch and a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter at @johnknefel.

Immigrant Protestors Arrested at the DNC, Feat. Rosario Dawson

Source: Youtube.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- Ten undocumented protesters were arrested outside the Time Warner Cable convention center, September 4, 2012, where the Democratic National Convention is being held. The protest was put on by an organization called, Undocumented and Unafraid, and featured a bus tour from Phoenix, AR, to Charlotte, NC.

Protesters were surrounded by police in pouring rain as supporters and reporters looked on. The event never turned violent and the ten arrested protesters were taken away in vans.

The event was meant to bring more attention to deportations by the Obama administration over the last four years. The President has deported 1.4 million undocumented immigrants in his first term, 1.5 times faster than his predecessor, President George W. Bush. The current president recently enacted a deferred action program for young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.

"He has deported more people and yet at the same time [President Obama] is doing deferred action for dreamers, so there is always a mixed pot that we get," said actress Rosario Dawson, who attended the protest. "We can never seem to get someone to stand 100 percent and do the right thing."

Approximately 2:37.

Produced by Paul Detrick and Zach Weissmuller.

Puente's "Undocubus" Riders Arrested Outside Democratic National Convention

Source: Blog.PhoenixNewTimes.com


Undocumented immigrants who rode across country on the "Undocubus" to protest immigration-related deportations were arrested outside the Democratic National Convention yesterday.


The "No Papers No Fear" mission is supposed to make the point that Dems are as unfavorable to the "Undocubus" riders as Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio when it comes to immigration enforcement.


According to our New York sister paper, the Village Voice, the activists were dropped off in a Charlotte intersection, and sat on a banner in the intersection while holding up signs that said "Undocumented."


From the Voice:


As the police waited, a hard rain began to fall, soaking police, press and protesters alike. Still, the standoff remained. Delegates and conventioneers on their way to the convention center stopped and stared, trying to understand what was happening. Protesters chanted "No papers, no fear! Dignity is standing here!" and "Obama! Escucha! Estamos en la lucha!"



After about 40 minutes, police started making arrests after several warnings, taking in 10 protesters.


Although the protesters obviously faced deportation, the protest's organizers say they have all since been released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.


After the arrests, the group put out the following statement:


"We came out because we are tired of the mistreatment. We are tired of waiting for change and we know that it never comes without risk or without sacrifice.

We know what is at stake in our actions. We know that the Republicans have decided to completely turn their back on our communities.  We also know that President Obama's legacy on immigration is undecided.

We want him to be on the right side of history. And we know that it is the effort of our organized communities that will make that happen.  We want him to be remembered as the one who found the way to include the millions struggling for a better life in this country, not to be remembered as the President who deported more people than anyone else in the history of the country.

We want President Obama to use his executive authority to provide relief from our entire community, students, parents, and all of us."


Rosario Dawson Gets Political Outside DNC

Source: RumorFix.com


Roario Dawson holding Undocumented Banner above head

Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson turned activist on Tuesday, joining a score of protestors in Charlotte, North Carolina; the group protested outside the Democratic National Convention on behalf of illegal immigration reform .


The actress joined several undocumented immigrants in shouting, “No Papers, No Fear!” Then the Men in Black II star grabbed a sign reading “undocumented,” and held it above her head.


At least 10 protestors were arrested, prompting Rosario to grab a megaphone and shout, “That’s what it takes … For all of you who just got arrested, I want to commend your bravery. Things will change. We are here with you.”


Rosario Dawson is of Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, Irish American and Native American descent.

Riders of the ‘UndocuBus’ Have ‘No Papers, No Fear’

Source: InTheseTimes.com



Riders of the "UndocuBus" engage in civil disobedience outside the DNC yesterday. No Papers, No Fears/Instagram


Monday night, the “UndocuBus,” with dozens of monarch butterflies painted on its side, sat in a parking lot in front of Skandalos, a Mexican restaurant/performance venue on the outskirts of Charlotte, displaying its slogan to any late-night passersby: "No Papers, No Fear." Inside the club, Los Jornaleros del Norte (Day Laborers of the North) played cumbia tunes to the undocumented immigrants who have been traveling the country on the bus. Los Jornaleros are aptly named. The band members met on a street corner where they waited to be picked up and employed for the day, and started playing instruments together as a way to pass the time.


Standing on a corner waiting for work has become much more dangerous in the age of Arizona’s SB 1070 “Papers Please” immigration law, and its legislative cousins throughout the country. What recourse do the country’s 117,000 day laborers have against harassment, brutality and wage theft?


Letty, one of those UndocuBus riders in attendance at Skandalos, knows the risks all too well, residing in Phoenix, Arizona, the epicenter of anti-immigrant fervor. Maricopa County, where Phoenix sits, is under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Letty has been living in Phoenix since her parents brought her there from Mexico, when she was nine years old.


Letty herself has a nine-, a seven-, and a five-year old, and says she doesn’t want them to grow up “with Arpaios on their back.” So she decided to take her everyday risk public, “come out of the shadows” and team up with other undocumented immigrants to walk voluntarily into Arpaio’s office and ask to be arrested. Since this episode, Letty has joined the No Papers, No Fear bus.


“I was pulled over before SB1070,” Letty says. “It’s hard when the police ask you for a license and you don’t have nothing to say.” When she got arrested at Sheriff Arpaio’s office, “one of the officers told me that I had a driver’s suspension. I asked him: ‘How can I have a driver’s suspension, if I don’t even have a license?’”


As it turns out, there may be greater risk in staying silent than in coming out of the closet as undocumented. Time after time, the No Fear activists have engaged in acts of civil disobedience, only to find that those in power are reluctant to wield the law severely without the benefit of faceless and silent victims. It is when an undocumented immigrant, living in the shadows, is pulled over for a crime such as a broken tail light that the risk for deportation is most severe.


So says Kemi, another bus rider also in attendance at the restaurant. “When we purposefully risk it, that’s when we’re let go,” she says. “That to us is not fair, because all of us take that risk on a daily basis.” With a laugh, she adds, “at the end of the day, we can’t even get arrested properly.” (That turned out to be only partly true: The very next afternoon, 10 Undocubus activists were arrested outside the DNC for civil disobedience. All 10 were released the next day.)


Kemi, who was brought to Houston from Nigeria at age 6, didn’t know she was undocumented until applying for college. Printing out the applications, “I noticed the third question was, ‘Are you a U.S. citizen, are you a permanent resident, or are you an international student?’ They were all check boxes, and there was no fourth box, no Other, no Miscellaneous.”


Kemi then experienced a transition from feeling as though she was “illegal” to feeling as though she was a “dreamer,” one of those undocumented immigrants who came to the United States young enough to benefit from the prospective “DREAM Act.” But Kemi says she has undergone yet another transition, to “undocumented.” She objects to “dreamer” because, though it was once “the only thing I had to embrace,” she now finds that it “pins all of our experience on one piece of legislation, and that piece of legislation doesn’t define me.”


President Barack Obama, a public supporter of the DREAM Act, found himself in an uncomfortable situation earlier this summer when several of his campaign offices around the country were targeted for sit-ins by undocumented youth. The campaign employees couldn’t keep working with them there, but couldn’t, because of the President’s position, very well call the police and have the protesters deported, so they turned the lights off, locked the doors and left. Shortly after, Obama, who brags that he has deported more immigrants than any previous president, announced a Deferred Action Immigration Program, which would grant visas to youth such as those sitting-in at his campaign offices.


This complicated record on immigration is what drew the UndocuBus to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention; the group skipped the RNC, knowing that Mitt Romney’s distinctly cruel immigration proposals left very little room for pressure or negotiation. President Obama’s legacy on this matter, say the undocumented activists, isn’t decided, but theirs is: they will fight until victory.


Buoying their optimism is the demographic shift currently underway in the United States, the so-called “browning of America.” The descendants of undocumented immigrants will constitute a large group of future voters, and are not likely to forget the treatment their parents are receiving now.


“My kids are with me,” says Letty. “I know that I’m raising them the good way, so that they can defend themselves and the community. My daughter, she’s five, and she says that she wants to help the community and do what I’m doing, and it makes me proud.”

Undocubus: A Journey From Arizona to the DNC [Video]

Source: ColorLines.com

In an action against President Obama’s immigration policies, 10 undocumented immigrants were arrested for civil disobedience in front of the gates to the Democratic National Convention yesterday evening. The 10 arrestees were riders on Undocubus, which made its way cross-country to Charlotte after leaving from Phoenix more than a month ago. After their arrest, immigration authorities questioned them in jail—but following an all-night call-in and petition campaign, all 10 were released this morning.

I boarded Undocubus last week in Knoxville, Tennessee, and rode through the South to Charlotte, North Carolina to report for Colorlines.com and The Nation. In this reporter’s notebook, I document what it’s like to witness a modern-day ride for freedom and justice.

Undocumented Activists Arrested Outside DNC After Cross-Country Journey for Immigration Reform

Source: DemocracyNow.org

One of the first acts of civil disobedience at the Democratic National Convention took place Tuesday just outside the Time Warner Cable Center when a group of 10 undocumented activists rode into uptown Charlotte aboard the "No Papers, No Fear–Ride for Justice" bus and blocked traffic. The activists have been riding aboard the "UndocuBus" protesting the Obama administration’s immigration policies for the past six weeks. They took part in Tuesday’s protest knowing they could face deportation if arrested. Democracy Now! was there when the activists left the bus and marched to the site of the Democratic National Convention. We then spoke to Tania Unzueta, whose father, mother and sister were arrested during the action and possibly face deportation.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: David Rovics, here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. We’re "Breaking With Convention." This is "War, Peace and the Presidency," covering the Democratic National Convention, inside and out, each day this week two hours of coverage. If your station is only running one, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman.

One of the first acts of civil disobedience at the Democratic National Convention took place on Tuesday just outside the Time Warner Cable Center. Shortly after 4:00 p.m., a group of 10 undocumented activists rode into uptown Charlotte aboard the "No Papers, No Fear" bus. The activists have been riding aboard the bus protesting the Obama administration’s immigration policies. The bus left Arizona six weeks ago. The activists took part in Tuesday’s protest knowing they could face deportation if arrested. They’re undocumented. Democracy Now! was there when the activists left the bus and marched to the site of the Democratic National Convention.

ACTIVISTS: No papers, no fear! No papers, no fear!

ROSI CARRASCO: Good afternoon. We are here to ask President Obama what his legacy will be. Will he be the president that has deported the most people in U.S. history? Or will he recognize our dignity and our right to organize? For that, we are risking arrest.

ACTIVISTS: Follow us!

KITZIA ESTEVA: My name is Kitzia Esteva. I’m undocumented and unafraid. We’re risking arrest right now to tell President Obama that he needs to have a position on our side, on the side of immigrants, to stop deportations, to stop—to stop deportations, to stop the collaboration between the police and ICE, and to recognize our civil rights and to defend them.

ACTIVISTS: No papers, no fear! Dignity is marching here! No papers, no fear! Dignity is marching here! No papers, no fear! Dignity is marching here! No papers, no fear! Dignity is marching here!

ROSI CARRASCO: My name is Rosi Carrasco. I’m here with my two daughters and my husband. We have been in this ride for dignity, and we believe that we have the right to fight for our dignity. We are here because we want to make sure to send a message to President Obama. We know that we are risking arrest, but we know that it’s up to the sheriff to turn us in to immigration. And we know that it’s up to immigration to turn us in to deportation proceedings. And we know that we are facing this because the policies of the President Obama. We want to know—we want to ask him to stop the deportations, to stop the collaboration within the police and ICE. And we will continuing organizing ourselves. We want to let families know that if you are organized, if you are unafraid, and if you have the support of the community, you will be able to fight for your civil rights and for your right to belong and to stay here. Thank you.

IRERI UNZUETA CARRASCO: My name is Ireri Unzueta. I am 25. I’m undocumented. I’m queer. And I’m standing here next to my parents, with my sister in the crowd, because we want to send the message to President Obama to ask him which side he is on. It’s time for him to choose whether he’s going to keep deporting people or he’s going to support families like mine and mixed-status families who are here trying to make a better life for themselves and for all of us. This is for every family in the United States, whether they are documented or not, to continue fighting for our rights and organizing.

MARTÍN UNZUETA: My name is Martín Unzueta. I am undocumented. I’ve been living in this here for 18 years. I pay taxes, and I’m paying more taxes than Citibank. I’m here because we are against the separation of the families, against the [287(g)] and against all the discrimination that this society is making against our community.

JULIO SANCHEZ: My name is Julio Sanchez. I came to this country when I was 15. Undocumented, I crossed the border. And now I’m here, and I’m not afraid. I’m doing this for all of my community, for all my undocumented community, because I’m tired to live every day in fear. I’m tired to not able to drive, not to have a driver’s license, not go to school. Only why? Because I don’t have a legal status. And that’s not right. Everybody use—for being human, I have rights, and I need everybody to respect my civil rights. Right now we are in this North Carolina at the DNC, and we’re just trying to do a civil disobedience, like close the streets. And we are here in front of the DNC, where all the Democratic are, and we want to tell them that they need to hear—they need to know what we need, and they need to do something about it. This is a—we’re doing this just to show them that we’re not scared anymore, we’re not afraid, and we’re here, and we don’t got papers, and we don’t—we’re not afraid.

MIKE BURKE: Now, if you got arrested today, would you face deportation?

JULIO SANCHEZ: Yes.

ACTIVISTS: Education, not deportation! Education, not deportation! Education, not deportation! Education, not deportation!

MAJOR DALE GREENE: I’m Major Greene with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. Can I have your attention please? You’re impeding traffic here at Fifth and College. I’m instructing you that you need to leave this intersection. You need to remove yourself from this intersection. If you do not leave, you will be arrested. You have five minutes to leave this intersection.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you fearful your mother could be deported from this demonstration?

KITZIA ESTEVA: I don’t fear my mother will be deported. I think the community will—will know what to do, will organize. And not only with us, but all other people that are fighting will be safe, because an organized community is a safe community.

MAJOR DALE GREENE: I need you to leave this intersection, or you will be arrested for impeding traffic. If you choose to leave, you can leave by Fifth Street or Tryon Street, that way west on Fifth Street.

PROTESTERS: Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets! Whose streets? Our streets!

AMY GOODMAN: The police have cleared the street. The 10 immigrants people, the 10 people who decided to take a stand today outside the Democratic National Convention, we asked each, as they were going into the police wagon, as they were being handcuffed by the police, why they’re doing what they’re doing today.

IRERI UNZUETA CARRASCO: I’m tired of being undocumented. I’m tired of losing opportunity.

MIKE BURKE: What does it mean that you’re getting arrested right now, for you?

IRERI UNZUETA CARRASCO: Because the police and ICE collaborate every day, we’re making this public. We’re hoping to show the community that they can organize themselves and to bring this message to President Obama for him to actually listen.

MIKE BURKE: Could you face deportation now that you’re getting arrested?

IRERI UNZUETA CARRASCO: I don’t know yet. That’s going to be up to immigration and the sheriff. But I’m willing to risk it.

MIKE BURKE: Anything else you’d like to add?

IRERI UNZUETA CARRASCO: I am proud to be doing this with my parents.

ROSI CARRASCO: We’re risking arrest because we are fighting for our rights, our right to organize, our right to be with our families. We want President Obama to stop deportation.

YOVANI DIAZ: We are being arrested because we did a civil disobedience, because we were trying to defend our families. And this is what happens every day in our community. When we don’t have a license, we get stopped, and we get detained.

ACTIVISTS: ¡Sí, se puede! ¡Sí, se puede!

GLORIA ESTEVA: [translated] We want them to respect our dignity, to respect our civil rights, and to stop separating our families.

JULIO SANCHEZ: No papers, no fear! Dignity is standing here! No papers, no fear! Dignity is standing here!

AMY GOODMAN: "No papers, no fear!" That’s the last of the chants of those immigrants who are being arrested today, undocumented immigrants all, here just outside the Democratic National Convention. They were a daughter with her mother. They were a mother with her daughter and her husband. They were young people, and they were older people, many here for 15, 12, 10 years. One young woman, who could have applied under President Obama’s executive order to not be deported, said if her mother is deported, the whole family is deported. And they all sat around a banner, before they were arrested, of a butterfly, because, they said, a butterfly knows no borders. A butterfly is free. It’s the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, and they are asking President Obama to listen to their message. They say no person is illegal.

ACTIVISTS: [singing] We’re gonna let nobody turn us around, turn us around, turn us around! We’re gonna let nobody turn us around, turn us around!

AMY GOODMAN: The 10 undocumented immigrants who were arrested have been released, but as they got arrested, they knew they could face deportation. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke spoke to Tania Unzueta. Her father, mother and sister were arrested during the action.

TANIA UNZUETA: It’s called the "No Papers, No Fear–Ride for Justice." It began on July 29th in Phoenix, Arizona. About 30-some riders started there, including myself, about six weeks ago. And towards the end, we were some 40 people, from Phoenix, Tennessee, North Carolina, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, most of us undocumented and trying to talk to community members about what it’s like to come out of the shadows, what it’s like to start losing fear in order to organize, and how to organize so that when you come out as undocumented, you have power behind you.

We went mostly through the South of the United States. We started in Phoenix, went on to New Mexico, Texas—and I’m sorry these are not all in order, but Phoenix, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. These are some of the states where some of the harshest anti-immigrant laws have been passed, where a lot of community members, particularly those who are undocumented, don’t have support, and where we felt the message of having no papers and having no fear hasn’t reached all of the community.

MIKE BURKE: I saw you kissing some of the protesters—

TANIA UNZUETA: Yeah.

MIKE BURKE: —just before they were arrested. Can you talk about your relationship with some of them?

TANIA UNZUETA: Sure. Actually, my entire family, except for myself, are in there. My father, Martín Unzueta; my mother, Rosi Carrasco; and my sister, Ireri Unzueta Carrasco, were all arrested today. They’re all undocumented.

MIKE BURKE: What does this mean, as undocumented immigrants, to be arrested? What could this mean for them?

TANIA UNZUETA: Yeah, so, we’re in a county that collaborates with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We read an article right before we came here that said that the sheriff would do his job, as he said it, and turn anyone who is undocumented over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. From there, it’s up to ICE whether they pick them up or not, depending on their various categories and criteria.

From what we know, political pressure and community pressure affects the way that immigration and that the sheriffs work. Every single disobedience that we have had, starting from two years ago, when undocumented youth started taking the streets and started taking political offices, no one has been deported. And then, we know that deportations continue, regardless of whether it’s low-priority or high-priority immigrants. We know that our own communities’ families keep being broken apart—except when we do it publicly, except when we do civil disobedience publicly.

And so, for here, I think it’s also a test to see what happens when undocumented people get arrested in front of the Democratic National Convention. I think it’s important to highlight that if it wasn’t for the policies that allow collaboration between police and immigration enforcement, this kind of act, peaceful protest, would not risk people being put into deportation proceedings. And, to me, it’s a symbol of how little sometimes it takes for someone to be placed in a position where they could potentially be deported.

MIKE BURKE: And can you tell us a little bit about your parents and their story?

TANIA UNZUETA: My parents, my sister and I came to the United States when I was 10 years old and my sister was six. This was about 18 years ago. We came because my dad was offered a job and offered the opportunity to regularize his status eventually. We didn’t know very much about the laws. And we—I mean, I know that my visa expired without even me knowing it, right, and suddenly I was undocumented.

They have tried several, several times to regularize their status. My dad tried to adjust his status through his work. But he started organizing a union at the same time, and he ended up getting fired from that job place. My mom has started that process. I, myself, have tried in the past to return to Mexico and come back with a visa, which was denied to me in 2001.

And so, you know, meanwhile, we’re students, we’re workers. I just graduated from graduate school. My sister is a college graduate, as well. My dad works organizing workers who have been unfairly fired. And my mother works with social services informing people about what access they have to services in the city of Chicago.

MIKE BURKE: Now, considering Mitt Romney’s stance on self-deportation, why did you choose not to go to Tampa?

TANIA UNZUETA: To me, the difference is that the Republicans, particularly Mitt Romney, has chosen what side of history he’s on. He’s on the side that says that people should self-deport, without consideration of what our history is, what are ties to the community are. I think Obama still has a chance to pick whether he’s going to be the president who has deported the most people in U.S. history or whether he’s going to give someone like me, like my family, the opportunity to regularize their status.

AMY GOODMAN: Tania Unzueta, speaking to Democracy Now!'s Mike Burke. Tania's mother, busloadof">Rosi Carrasco, who was on Democracy Now! yesterday, her father and her sister were among those who were arrested. Of the 10 undocumented immigrants arrested in the rain just outside the Democratic convention yesterday, they’ve all been released. If you’d like to see our interview with Rosi yesterday here on the broadcast, you can go to democracynow.org.

When we come back, we’ll talk about the rain—that’s right, the money raining in here in Charlotte, North Carolina, during this Democratic National Convention week. We’ll speak with the Sunlight Foundation. Stay with us

DNC Protest Leads To Arrest Of 10 Undocumented Immigrants

Source: HuffingtonPost.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ten undocumented immigrants filed off a brightly-painted bus here on Tuesday and walked to an intersection across from the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the first speeches of the Democratic National Convention would be delivered hours later. They walked out into a busy intersection downtown, sat down with signs that read "undocumented," and refused to get up.

Police quickly swarmed, surrounding the protesters from all sides as they stopped traffic. They didn't intervene, though, until an hour and a half later, even with the pouring rain. At first it looked like they might not disrupt the protest at all, but one of the protesters told an officer they wanted to be arrested to get their point across. After two warnings that they would be removed for impeding traffic, police stood the 10 protesters up one by one and put plastic zip ties around their hands. They led them to police vans to be taken to jail -- which, along with drawing the attention of passing convention-goers, was their goal.

The protest was the culmination of a six-week bus tour that started in Phoenix, Ariz., and ended at the doorstep of the biggest event of the year for the Democratic Party. In Charlotte, where President Barack Obama is attempting to court and turn out the Hispanic vote, the group was focused on his little-discussed (and politically unappealing) deportation record. During other stops, the bus riders went after Republicans for what they see as a much more hardline anti-immigrant approach.

More broadly, the protesters are part of a movement of immigrants who are choosing to "come out" as undocumented and dare the government to send them home. In most cases, they're left unpunished. But that doesn't mean pressure isn't being placed on politicians to reform immigration enforcement procedures.

The protesters were released around 5:00 a.m. Wednesday and now plan to go home. Yovani Diaz Tolentino, a 21-year-old born in Mexico, said after his release that his time in jail with his fellow protesters was a bonding experience, albeit a cold one. He plans to go back to Atlanta on Friday and return to school, while continuing to advocate for immigration reform using connections he made on the bus tour.

dnc protest
Protesters who would go on to be arrested leave a church for downtown Charlotte.

"Now we're more organized and we hope to move forward," he said.

Two hours before their arrests, the protesters' mood seemed equally determined. The 10 undocumented immigrants, five men and five women, joined a handful of other organizers and piled onto a large bus at 3:45 p.m. to make their way to the Democratic National Committee checkpoint. The bus was one of four making the trip across the country, though it was certainly the most visible. It's painted light turquoise and bears the words "No Papers, No Fear" in English and Spanish. Emblazoned all over it are Monarch butterflies, the group's chosen symbol because they migrate across three countries in North America. The butterflies were featured on most of the protesters' signs and T-shirts Tuesday.

On the bus, protesters sat across from each other on four couches, two on either side. They didn't seem nervous. They chanted each others' names and sang. When the bus neared its final stop, an organizer passed out socks and long-sleeved shirts for protesters to wear under their white T-shirts. "It's cold in jail," organizer Marisa Franco of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network explained.

The Obama administration deported a record 396,906 people in the 2011 fiscal year, and is expected to have a sizeable removal figure for 2012 as well. The president says his agencies are targeting the worst of the worst -- and they are now deporting more immigrants with criminal records than they did previously -- but organizers see enough detentions and deportations on the ground to know that plenty of people without criminal records still get caught in the system.

Some of them may be aided by the Obama administration's June announcement that it would halt the deportation of undocumented young people in certain instances. Although 1.7 million people may be eligible to apply for the program, known as deferred action, that's far from all of the nation's undocumented immigrants, and there are serious limitations that may lead to even young people being blocked from the process. Many of those arrested were middle-aged and aren't eligible for deferred action anyway.

dnc protest
The group made signs for undocumented immigrants to hold as they blocked the street.

"We come here because we don't want Obama to be remembered as the president that deported more people than any other president in the history of the country," NDLON Executive Director Pablo Alvarado, one of the organizers, said at the Iglesia El Siloe church in Charlotte before the protest. "He has an opportunity to fix it."

The group didn't see the point in going to Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention last week. Most Republicans have already voiced opposition to the type of immigration reform the protesters want, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he wants undocumented immigrants to "self-deport."

"We know where the Republicans are," Alvarado said. "We know they are not with us."

Late on Monday evening, the group held a meeting at the church. Organizers asked volunteers to step forward if they wanted to be part of the demonstration on Tuesday and 10 did, including a mother and daughter duo who later held a sign together as they chanted on the street.

The next day was spent planning. About a dozen people went to downtown Charlotte to scout their protest location and the path they would take to get there. Others remained at the church in a dreary indoor basketball court to make signs.

dnc protest
Protesters walk from the bus to a Democratic National Convention security checkpoint.

Around 2:30 p.m., the entire protest group -- more than 30 people -- went to the basement of the main church building to talk over final plans, mapping out the route on a chalkboard. The mood was solemn and occasionally tense. Their room adjoined another lined with air mattresses, where bus riders have slept since Saturday.

After the meeting, the group of 10 undocumented immigrants who would later be arrested formed a circle outside to talk about the specific action they would take. They practiced the movements over and over in the hot sun as others finished spray-painting shirts and got into vans to head to the convention area. Some protesters, both those planning to be arrested and others, wrote phone numbers on their bodies so they would know who to call if they were put in jail.

As the final two men were arrested, actress Rosario Dawson pushed through a crowd of onlookers to show her support, yelling into the organizer's loudspeaker that they were brave and she stood behind them.

dnc protest
Actress Rosario Dawson visits to encourage the protesters.

NDLON put much of its infrastructure behind the bus trip and has at least one person traveling with the group at all times. Alvarado has hopped on and off, but has still spent a significant chunk of the past six weeks with the undocumented group. Two decades ago, he too was undocumented after entering the United States illegally from Mexico. He received temporary status six years into his time in the country and is now a U.S. citizen.

"Coming out" as undocumented has its benefits. More visible undocumented immigrants are often passed over for detention and deportation, in part because they usually lack criminal records. But they also have a huge support system behind them that can make a fuss, which the government seems intent on avoiding.

That's hardly adequate protection. Protesters are largely focused on sending a message on behalf of undocumented immigrants who aren't as vocal. Geraldo Torres, a 41-year-old who was the last to be arrested on Tuesday, said the protesters try to take every chance they have "to stand up and speak out." Torres was born in Mexico and has been in the United States for about 20 years. He joined the bus on July 29 in Phoenix, where he lives.

"I think it's very important to really, really come out of the shadows and challenge those people that are not listening to us," he said. "We really want to get our point across."

Rosario Dawson Calls DNC Immigration Demonstrators ‘Soldiers of the Battle’ [Video]

Soure: Colorlines.com

On Tuesday, actress Rosario Dawson, who had been at a nearby forum on immigration, walked over and showed her support for Undocubus demonstrators who traveled from Arizona to Charlotte to urge the Obama administration to stop criminalizing immigrant communities.

“We really need to have better representation and that’s why we continue to have to keep seeing soldiers of the battle keep going down one by one until finally there is a critical mass to make a difference,” Dawson told reporters outside the DNC site where Undocubus members were demonstrating.

rosario-obama-undocubus.jpg (Rosario Dawson and Isela “Chela” Meraz, Photo by Aura Bogado)

Ten Undocubus members were arrested at the intersection of 5th and College streets, just one block from the convention site and where delegates go through a security checkpoint.

In a statement the group made online, they explain, “We came out because we are tired of the mistreatment. We are tired of waiting for change and we know that it never comes without risk or without sacrifice.

At one point during the demonstration Dawson took to a megaphone and told Undocubus riders already in jail-transport vans that she admired them.

“That’s what it takes,” she said. “For all of you who just got arrested, I want to commend your bravery. Things will change. We are here with you.”

Before she left the protest, Dawson turned to Undocubus rider Isela “Chela” Meraz and said “You inspire me,” before turning and giving her a big hug.

Why did immigration officials release a group of undocumented activists arrested outside the DNC?

Source: UnivisionNews.Tumblr.com

Despite the threat of deportation, Julio Sánchez protested in Charlotte on Tuesday.

After police arrested ten undocumented activists protesting outside the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, those arrested were turned over to federal immigration authorities.

Hours later, however, the activists were released from custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“ICE has taken no enforcement action against the Ride for Justice activists arrested Tuesday in Charlotte,” an ICE spokesperson told USA Today in a statement. “ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States.”

On its face, the move by ICE shouldn’t be surprising. The majority of the activists arrested likely qualify for one of two recent programs aimed at stemming unwarranted deportations, according to Tania Unzueta, a spokesperson for the group, which has been touring the country with the UndocuBus campaign.

But two of the protestors had previous immigration infractions, Unzueta said, which she believes would have led to their deportation under other circumstances.

“There’s something about public pressure,” Unzueta said. “ICE officials told us that this was a high-profile case, and to me, that means that when people have community behind them, they really are treated differently than other people are.”

According to David Leopold, general counsel with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, however, the added attention from cameras and notebooks might not have been a deal breaker.

“It’s always a little safer to have the media around, there’s no question about it,” Leopold said. “But I don’t know whether in this circumstance that made a difference.”

Ideally, “prosecutorial discretion” should halt low-priority deportations; in practice, it’s affected few cases.

A number of factors could have contributed to the decision by immigration officials to release the activists with prior immigration offenses, Leopold said.

To begin with, two policy changes have altered the immigration enforcement landscape in the past year and a half. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program announced by President Obama in April allows young undocumented immigrants work and live in the US. In addition, a 2011 Homeland Security memo gives federal immigration authorities the power to exercise “prosecutorial discretion” in non-criminal, low-priority cases.

“Whether they qualify for DACA or prosecutorial discretion, the law has always favored release, that’s nothing new,” said Leopold. “So that doesn’t surprise me that they were released by ICE, pending an ICE hearing…If they let them go without any processing, that is unusual.”

That’s exactly what happened, according to 24-year-old Julio Sánchez, an organizer from Chicago who has been traveling on the UndocuBus.

He says that he and another activist, 45-year-old Eleazar Castallanos, an Arizona day laborer, were held in ICE custody yesterday after the other eight protestors were released. Sánchez was apprehended twice while trying to cross the border nine years ago, but he was a minor at the time. Castellanos, according Sánchez, also had a prior immigration infraction on his record.

Sánchez and Castallanos refused to speak with any authorities beyond giving their names and dates of birth, and eventually the ICE agents allowed them to leave, without mention of any future appearance in federal immigration court or further action against them:

“After 30 minutes, he said, ‘Ok we’re not going to do anything about it, but you should be careful for the next time, because you’re already on the record and immigration could send someone to your house.’”

Because of his age, Sánchez may qualify for deferred action while Castallanos does not. Castallanos could not be reached for comment, so it is unclear whether he would qualify for prosecutorial discretion.

“Once we make our problem public, it’s really hard for immigration to put us into deportation,” Sánchez said. “Since I did it publicly, they didn’t want all the attention and they let me go.”

From the standpoint of an immigration attorney, Leopold was more skeptical.

“The fact that they weren’t issued a notice to appear, does not mean that they won’t be issued a notice to appear,” he said.

Regardless of the motivations that led ICE to release the protestors, Leopold agrees with the decision.

“I would rather have immigration releasing people who are protesting and not harming anyone than arresting them and letting some violent guy go free,” he said. “The first amendment applies to everybody, so maybe ICE was evaluating that and did the right thing there.”

(Photos: Facebook/UndocuBus)

Undocubus connects immigrants to civil rights legacy at DNC

Source: WagingNonviolence.org


The Undocubus, a busload of undocumented activists from Arizona, rode across the Deep South throughout the month of August to call attention to immigration policies that criminalize immigrants and separate families. The group arrived at the Democratic National Convention on Saturday, 48 years and eight presidential administrations after civil rights activists enacted a similar strategy in 1964.

The legacy of the civil rights movement holds rich implications for contemporary struggles over immigrant rights. In the lead-up to the 1964 presidential election, organizers working in Mississippi hosted Freedom Summer, bringing hundreds of whites from across the nation to spend their summer living alongside blacks and registering them to vote in some of the most violent segregated towns in the South.

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which the Undocubus was partially modeled after, brought segregation and the violence that upheld it straight to President Lyndon Johnson’s doorstep. The MFDP delivered a parallel Democratic party of all-black Mississippians to the 1964 DNC to protest the seating of an all-white party. Although the MFDP was not formally seated at the convention that year, the amount of national press coverage was considerable. The nation was effectively shamed into dealing with its violent contradictions, and the following year, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, putting a stop to Jim Crow laws that suppressed the black vote.

The civil rights movement relied heavily on three main strategies. There was a strategic use of media to make racist violence visible and morally unbearable, coupled with a reliance on cross-racial solidarity, and a willingness of organizers and participants in the struggle to risk beatings, jail time and worse to challenge repression. Repressive violence caught the attention of the national news media, piping murder and police brutality onto televisions nationally. People from around the country, black, white and otherwise, saw these stories and felt compelled to action. Participants in the Freedom Rides and the Freedom Summer put their lives on the line. Thousands marched in Alabama and Washington. Others donated money and goods to the communities and organizations leading the struggle.

What’s the take-away for those involved in today’s civil rights struggles, including the struggle for immigrant rights?

Direct action tactics must confront power in a strategic way, interrupting “business as usual” in order to push for a win. The immigrant rights movement has mobilized millions, but we are still without justice. Audacious visions of what victory might look like are not the only thing we need. We must also envision and cultivate game-changing actions and alliances. Our actions not only need to stop the show for a day, they must win the hearts of families across the nation.

Many immigrants find the thought of direct action downright scary — the price of arrest often equals incarceration, deportation and a slew of abuses (including violence and sexual assault) along the way. But undocumented people do not have to face this struggle alone. My mother is undocumented, and I would never encourage her to actively risk arrest and deportation. But would I risk going to jail, possibly losing my job or risking future employment and incurring financial costs so that she could have a driver’s license, health insurance and a steady income that enables her to save for retirement? Absolutely.

It wasn’t just the families and friends of black folks who were willing to risk their own well being for African-American civil rights. It was ordinary people, some with no direct connection to the issue whatsoever, who risked even their lives so that others could have a chance at freedom. The price they paid stands as a testament to the strength of a movement whose organizing enabled people to sustain such risks.

Similarly, immigrant civil rights will not be won without broad-based, multi-racial support and alliances. One way to win such support is by making the daily violence that our communities live with known. We must make its weight morally unbearable, too heavy for the public to continue to support or ignore.

To be sure, immigrant communities face a different type of violence now than black folks did in the Deep South in the 1960s and before. But it is no less serious. Our people face death crossing the border. Upon arrival, the job options available tend to be in restaurants, domestic work, agriculture and construction — industries rife with abysmally low wages, sexual abuse, and the possibility of being enslaved, seriously injured or even killed on the job. Our families live with the threat of imprisonment and deportation hanging over their heads every day. I am consistently terrified that the next phone call I receive from my mother will be the last before she gets locked up and sent to Mexico just because she drove herself to work.

We can tell these stories strategically. Developing a messaging framework across sectors of immigrant struggles enables connections between what might seem like isolated incidents of violence. Through retelling our trauma, we can reveal the humanity in events that otherwise would be just statistics, winning allies who were previously on the fence and perhaps pushing those who already agree into greater indignation and action.

Democracy is built on dialogue and participation, and the government cannot continue to penalize people for a failure to deal with the reality of migration. Full amnesty for all immigrants and a real path to citizenship for those who are here, along with those who are on their way, is just one step towards making democracy truly possible. The right to vote will not be a magic ticket out of poverty and oppression; only sustained struggle and a real commitment to shifting the nation’s consciousness around what full democratic participation looks like can get us there.

The legacy of African-American civil rights can suggest parallel trajectories and strategies to be followed, if only we are willing to listen. All of us, regardless of who we are or where we live, have the right to live with dignity. My mother, alongside the thousands of other undocumented people in this country, deserves to be able to leave her house each day without imminent fear of arrest and deportation. It will take a mix of audacity and vision to make this possible, but I am thankful that the road is partially paved already.



 

‘Undocubus’ immigrants released from jail; feds take no steps to deport them

Source: CharlotteObserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Ten undocumented immigrants who were arrested in a Charlotte protest Tuesday have been released from jail, and none have been referred for deportation, federal authorities say.

“ICE has taken no enforcement action against the Ride for Justice activists arrested Tuesday in Charlotte,” said Vincent Picard, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States.”

The activists are part of the “Undocubus,” a group of about 50 undocumented immigrants traveling from Phoenix to Charlotte in an aging tour bus to argue for immigration reform during the Democratic National Convention.

The 10 were arrested Tuesday afternoon after sitting down in an uptown intersection and refusing police orders to disperse. They face misdemeanor impeding traffic charges.

Although President Obama recently stayed deportations for many young immigrants in the country without documents, the recent federal exemption doesn’t apply to all, and those over 30 are not covered.

In recent months, undocumented youth have become more aggressive in raising awareness to their status, with some staging protests that get them arrested. They think that helped push Obama to issue the deportation stay.

Undocumented immigrants in Mecklenburg County stand a greater risk of deportation than those in some other counties. That’s because the county participates in the federal 287 (g) program, which screens all arrestees for immigration status.

The arrested activists, who range in age from 21 to 58, said they’ll soon return to their home cities – mostly Chicago and Phoenix – and continue organizing.

“The full plan is to tell President Obama we have no papers and no fear,” said Julio Sanchez, 24, who was among those arrested Tuesday. He has been in the U.S. for nine years and now lives in Chicago.

Soon after the 10 were released, an Undocubus organizer sent a text message to an Observer editor: “Todos Libres! All are free,” it said.

Staff Writers Ames Alexander and Doug Miller contributed.

Video: Undocubus – A Journey From Arizona to the DNC 2012

Source: MyTNGOnline.com

In an action against President Obama’s immigration policies, 10 undocumented immigrants were arrested for civil disobedience in front of the gates to the Democratic National Convention yesterday evening. The 10 arrestees were riders on Undocubus, which made its way cross-country to Charlotte after leaving from Phoenix more than a month ago. After their arrest, immigration authorities questioned them in jail—but following an all-night call-in and petition campaign, all 10 were released this morning.

Aura Bogado boarded Undocubus last week in Knoxville, Tennessee, and rode through the South to Charlotte, North Carolina to report for Colorlines.com and The Nation. In this reporter’s notebook, she documents what it’s like to witness a modern-day ride for freedom and justice.

Our Hispanic counterparts in the United States put themselves on the line time and again on the immigration issue, is there a political movement among the African Diaspora to do the same? Thoughts?

Undocumented People Arrested in Civil Disobedience Watch President's Speech, Announce Next Steps After President's Speech, Call on DNC to Be on Right Side of History, End Merger of Police with Immigration Enforcement

No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice Concludes with Call on Feds to Stop Collaborating with Arizona as State Readies for Implementation of SB1070 and with Pledge to Fight Against Police/ICE Collaboration Nation-Wide

What: Undocumented Presidential Acceptance Speech Watching Event

Where: St. Peter's Catholic Church. 507 S. Tryon, Charlotte, NC.

When: 9:00pm - 11:30pm. Speech scheduled for 10:30

Who: No Papers No Fear Riders who travelled for six weeks through 10 states and 16 cities to rally migrant community and call on President to be on the right side of history at the DNC

More than 40 people, mainly undocumented, travelled on the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice through 10 states and 16 cities to arrive at the DNC where 10 undocumented participants performed civil disobedience that could have resulted in their deportation due to the Police/ICE collaboration programs that were the focus of their protest.

All arrestees were released instead of being placed in deportation proceedings, confirming the message riders have set out to express through the tour: the migrant community is stronger and safer when organized and out of the shadows.

Tonight participants will watch and respond to the President's speech, share their response from their perspective of being undocumented, and announce their next steps as they return to their homes where police and immigration enforcement collaboration continue to cause a human rights crisis.

Riders point to Arizona where SB1070's section 2b racial profiling provision was just approved by a judge to go into effect and highlight the similar impact of federal deportation programs nation-wide.

Media Availability for Interviews from 9:15 to 11:30pm. Follow @undocubus

###

No Papers, No Fear: Risking Deportation at the DNC

Source: YesMagazine.com

Why did ten undocumented immigrants choose to get arrested in Charlotte, even when they knew they could face deportation?

On the evening of Wednesday, August 15, the Democratic National Convention made history by inviting an undocumented immigrant to address the delegacy. Benita Veliz told the crowd how she came to the U.S. as a young child but lived with the knowledge that she could be deported at any time—until June 2012, when President Obama signed the DREAM Act, an executive order granting temporary residency status to thousands of children of immigrants. She praised Obama for his support of the Act, saying: “President Obama has fought for my community.”

But just the previous day, a few blocks outside the convention center, a group of undocumented immigrants had used their bodies and voices to draw attention to what they say is Obama’s flawed and unjust immigration record. That record includes about 1.1 million deportations, more than any other president since the 1950s.

The ten arrestees and dozens of others have been riding around the country since late July, encouraging President Obama to decide what he wants his immigration legacy to look like. They call their project the “Undocubus,” and they travel in a bus painted a bright greenish-blue, and decorated huge images of the monarch butterfly, a migratory species the riders have adopted as their symbol.

The ride has functioned as both outreach and direct action, connecting the riders with other communities and providing opportunities for risky but highly visible actions, such as a July sit-in at the office of anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoeniz, Arizona, which resulted in four arrests of undocumented individuals. The riders take a calculated risk, facing possible deportation but hoping that their courage will draw attention to their cause.

“We're willing to take the risk for a change,” Natalie Cruz, an undocumented rider from Phoenix, Arizona, said of the action. “We have to do anything to survive.”

At around 3:30 pm on Tuesday, riders from the UndocBus gathered on a sidewalk a few blocks from College Street, one of the main drags at the convention. They were men and women, young adults and middle-aged people, even children. They held cloth signs printed with monarch butterflies and the words “Migration is a Human Right.” After a quiet march in the rain to the corner of College and East 5th Street, the riders stepped into the center of the intersection, where they knelt on a colorful banner that read “Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo” (“No Papers, No Fear”) and held signs reading “Undocumented” above their heads.

Despite the rain, the riders created a proud and militant spectacle. As delegates from the Democratic National Convention passed the protest, leaving the CNN Grill or heading toward the Ritz Carlton, the riders shared their stories in both English and Spanish. Other riders around them chanted in support. They stayed put as police enclosed them with bicycles and the rain became heavier, a mother and daughter in the group kneeling with their arms around each other. After remaining in the street despite a bilingual dispersal order by the police, they were handcuffed one at a time and placed into police vans, where they continued to chant “Undocumented, unafraid!”

The civil disobedience in Charlotte was part of a series of direct actions meant to put pressure on Obama and draw attention to injustices of the current immigration policy. While the DREAM Act supports children of immigrants, the riders say that is only part of the picture. “People need the right to drive their children to school and not fear that they will be deported along the way,” said Tania Unzueta, whose mom, dad, and sister were arrested at the action. Many of those arrested were adults—parents and workers who spoke about their experience of constant fear and their desire to live out in the open.

The UndocuBus riders emphasize the importance of community support as a form of advocacy. Since undocumented individuals face arrest every day just by driving to the store or going to work, the stakes are already high. Acts of civil disobedience make such arrests more visible. When all ten arrestees were released the following morning without being processed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the UndocuBus crew took it as another victory on their tour, tweeting, “We know this is not the norm, that every day [they] separate families.”

Despite 18 arrests of UndocuBus riders since their tour began, there have been no deportations. By making deportation both visible and political, they have put Obama and ICE in a difficult position; so far, these officials seem uninterested in deporting widely publicized civil rights activists before and during the convention. 

As the DNC continues into its third day, the speakers made it clear that Obama plans to champion his immigration record, focusing specifically on young “Dreamers.” For the people on the UndocuBus, though, Obama’s policy still leaves many vulnerable to deportation and guarantees the continued separation of families.

On Tuesday, as Julian Castro became the first Latino to deliver a keynote address at the DNC, Unzueta’s family was still in jail. “Will he be the president who deported the most people in U.S. history,” she asked of Obama, “or will he recognize the dignity of people like us?”


Molly Knefel wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. She is a writer, comic, and co-host of Radio Dispatch, a progressive political podcast that airs Monday through Thursday. Listen at www.theRadioDispatch.com and follow her on Twitter at @mollyknefel.

Familia de Chicago se arriesga a la deportación en la Convención Demócrata

Source: Vivelohoy.com

Mientras delegados participaban en la Convención Nacional Demócrata (DNC), miembros de una familia de Chicago se arriesgaron a la deportación tras participar en una protesta.

Martín Unzueta, Rosi Carrasco, su hija Ireri Unzueta Carrasco y miembros de la gira por autobús “Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo – Gira por la Justicia”  fueron arrestados tras bloquear una avenida cerca de donde se lleva a cabo la convención de  los demócratas, en Charlotte, Carolina del Norte.

La familia Unzueta, conocida por su activismo en Chicago, participaba en la gira que empezó protesta por la política migratoria del presidente Barack Obama, que algunos indican ha sido el presidente que más personas a deportado.

El Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) indicó que en el año fiscal 2011 deportó a 396,906 personas. La misma fuente indica que en el año fiscal 2007, último de la presidencia del presidente republicano George Bush, se deportaron a 291,060 personas.

El autobús o “UndocuBus” llegó a Charlotte el martes y el grupo, incluyendo la familia, se encaminaron  hacia la calle y a grito de  “No Papers, No Fear" bloquearon una avenida de esa ciudad y 10 de ellos fueron arrestados.

El problema es que los arrestados, incluyendo la familia, son indocumentados y con su detención encaraban la deportación.

Ireri dijo, antes de ser arrestada, que es hora que el presidente Obama elija si va seguir deportando a la gente o apoyar a familias indocumentadas o con status mixto que trabajan por mejorar su vida y la de todos, según la estación Democracy Now

Tania Unzueta dijo a Democracy Now, que el arresto para una persona indocumentada en un condado que colabora con ICE termina la mayor parte de las veces en la deportación.

Sin embargo, en este caso, los 10 detenidos fueron dejados en libertad posteriormente.

Unzueta dijo a la estación que: “Por lo que sabemos, la presión política y la presión comunitaria afecta en la forma como Inmigración y los alguaciles trabajan”.

Undocumented immigrants push Obama to realise their American Dream

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Immigrant rights activists have succeeded in putting stalled immigration reform back on the agenda, but they're not done yet

"We are here to ask President Obama what his legacy will be," Rosi Carrasco said as she climbed down from the "UndocuBus", colorfully painted with butterflies, that the activists traveled in from Arizona.

"What we want to say to President Obama is, on which side of the history is he going to be? Is he going to be remembered as the president that has been deporting the most people in US history, or he is going to be on the side of immigrants?"

Rosi's husband, Martin Unzueta, said:

"I am undocumented. I've been living here for 18 years. I pay taxes, and I'm paying more taxes than Citibank."

The border state of Arizona has become ground zero in the national immigration crisis, with the passage of the notorious SB 1070 law that sought to criminalize simply being in the state without documentation. Such immigration determinations are under federal jurisdiction, and violations of them are actually civil offenses, not criminal. With SB 1070, Arizona pre-empted federal immigration policy, until most of its provisions were struck down in federal court.

While immigrant rights activists consider the court's decision a victory, our nation remains plagued by its broken immigration policy. The Arizona law prompted similar bills in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country. When a draconian anti-immigrant bill was signed into law in Alabama, Latinos fled east to Georgia and Florida, while Alabama farmers, unable to find hired help willing to do the backbreaking work typically reserved for migrants, saw their crops rot in the fields.

This is where movements come in. When the machinery of government breaks down, when politicians and bureaucrats create gridlock, it takes the power of the people to effect meaningful change, often at great personal risk. Across the US, immigrant activists are increasingly engaging in civil disobedience, especially the young. Just as it was young people in North Carolina more than half a century ago who defied the advice of their elders to be more patient in the fight against segregation, today many young people have targeted President Obama with sit-down actions in his campaign offices, pressuring for passage of the Dream Act. Many of them came to this country as children, without documentation.

President Obama showed some sympathy for these "Dreamers" last June, when he announced a decision within the department of homeland security to free 800,000 of them from the threat of potential deportation proceedings:

"Imagine you've done everything right your entire life – studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class – only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak … it makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans – they've been raised as Americans; understand themselves to be part of this country."

Many celebrated the announcement, then challenged the president to act on his pledge. Several activists got themselves detained so they could enter the Broward Transitional Center, a pre-deportation jail in Florida, and interview detainees. They found dozens of people who are eligible for release under President Obama's policies, but who languish in the jail nevertheless.

Here in Charlotte, outside the convention center, ten brave souls, among them a young woman and her mother, a couple and their daughter, sat down in the pouring rain on a large banner they placed in the middle of the intersection. The banner read "No Papers, No Fear" (in Spanish, "Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo"), with a large butterfly in the center.

As the police surrounded them, I asked one of the women about to be arrested, why a butterfly? "Because butterflies have no borders," she told me. "Butterflies are free."

• Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2012 Amy Goodman; distributed by King Features Syndicate

Comedy Central Meets Undocubus

Word Association with Comedy Central

An Undocubus Sketchbook

Source: CultureStrike.com

Here’s a dispatch from CultureStrike artist Julio Salgado from the Undocubus, which last week made a big splash at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.  His images speak to the sense of solidarity and pride that the campaign seeded in all the participants, which they took home with them as the bus rolled out. All drawings by Julio Salgado.

As we exited El Siloe Church’s gym in Charlotte, N.C. to hop on the UndocuBus for one last time as a group, the humid rain seemed like an emotional prop to our undocumented goodbyes. After weeks of speaking out, civil disobedience, and hanging out together, UndocuBus riders were finally saying goodbye.

Soaking wet, riders shared their most vivid memories of the entire trip. Tears were shed and jokes told. Each of us wondering about what just happened and what was next. Sitting with all these amazing individuals, it was hard not to see myself spending endless hours together on church floors, planning the next actions.

I’ve always been amazed at the leadership behind this journey. From hardworking day laborers and mothers, to veteran organizers, and key activists within the immigrant youth movement, this bus ride was an example of what can be accomplished once we let go of our fear.

I didn’t take much with me, but, aside from the indispensible toothbrush and clean underwear, I brought along a sketchpad. It was an honor to be able to capture small snippets of the UndocuBus life during my two weeks with them.

 

I always get so excited when I actually get to meet DREAMers I’ve drawn in the past. I first made a drawing of Ireri for the “I am UndocuQueer!” collection. Ireri is one of the sweetest human beings I’ve ever met. Her calm demeanor always brought some piece of mind whenever I’d talk to her. I made this sketch of Ireri and her father Martin, an amazing undocumented activist himself, while we rode the bus from Atlanta, GA to Asheville, N.C.

Miguel is an undocumented activist from Phoenix, AZ. His straight-to-the-point comments and stories about his childhood in Mexicali always kept the conversation going. Miguel was part of the civil disobedience in Arizona that kicked off the UndocuBus ride.

Rosi and her husband Martin Unzueta met up with the UndocuBus around the same time I joined them. Rosi and Martin are Tania and Ireri Unzueta’s parents, two fierce UndocuQueer activists from Chicago. From the conversations I had with Rosi, it’s no surprise their daughters turned out to be the amazing activists they are today.

Where do I even begin to describe Gloria? She is everything our enemies don’t want us to be: an outspoken person who breaks down the injustices that undocumented immigrants suffer in this country. Gloria joined the bus with her daughter Kitzia and together, they were both part of the civil disobedience at the DNC in Charlotte.

The beauty of this ride was its connection to the arts. Fernando is an undocumented activist from Arizona whose passionate hip-hop lyrics were always an inspiring tool at every stop we made.

While we were saying our goodbyes, one of the mothers in the bus mentioned how thankful she was for the UndocuQueers on the bus. According to her, they thought her so much about respect and dealing with other issues she didn’t even think about before. In this image, I captured a conversation with fellow UndocuQueers Chela from Phoenix and Julio from Chicago.

A couple of months ago I received a Facebook message from Tania Unzueta asking me if I wanted to be part of the UndocuBus ride. I’ve admired Tania for a very long time. She was a key individual in my own coming out as both undocumented and queer when she was part of the first undocumented sit-in back in 2010. To my surprise, Kemi Bello, another amazing undocumented activist from Texas, met up with the bus around the time I arrived. Kemi and I had been writing to each other via Facebook, so it was such an honor to finally meet her and get to know her.

“Destined for a world where fear doesn’t exist.”

Letter to My Mother

Source: CultureStrike.net

In a letter to his mother, undocumented and queer writer Marco Flores describes his recent ride on the UndocuBus — and overcoming fear through art, activism, and community solidarity.

09.03.2012

Mamá,

Tengo tiempo sin escribir. I’ve put off writing to you for several weeks now. As I write, I regret not staying up to admire the light of the blue moon from a few nights ago. All I was able to write were two laborious lines for the moon goddess, Coyolxauhqui. There is something about the moonlight that gives me the strength to answer the question that haunts me most—why does writing about being undocumented feel so unnatural to me?

It’s not easy writing this letter, but I want to share some of my most recent experiences with you. I write to you because I want to give you what has taken me years to bring to voice, my own truth of living undocumented in America. So I began by writing you a poem, but it felt forced—without meaning. How can I convey urgency without the excessive theoretical jargon my UC Berkeley education has instilled in me? To be able to write without the manipulation of rhetoric—rhetoric that cannot convey what I feel in my flesh. I decided to write a letter because in the act of writing, I can share my most intimate thoughts with you. Remember how abuela would write me letters desde México? It’s now that I’m able to understand the power of her writing. Her palabras are vivid memories of a distant homeland, the home we had left behind. You and papá always wrote letters to each other during his time in prison. You’d stay up all hours of the night and respond to the endless pages he had written. So I’m writing you a letter because you know letters. Because you and I know that in the act of writing we can own our words, by giving life to the unnamed.

I recently got back to California after a four-day trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. No, I didn’t mention the trip to you because I know how you get about these things I do. You’d have called me every day and told me that you’ve lost sleep porque los nervios no te dejan dormir. Pero en fín, a few days ago my friend Julio asked me if I was interested in flying out to Alabama to spend some time with the riders of the UndocuBus. I agreed. Y mamá, you know all those stories you’ve shared with me about experiences that have moved you in infinite ways? Those moments that have touched you in ways both unpredictable and unimaginable? Well, I’m beginning to understand just that. The feeling of being acknowledged by a community you feel is close to your heart, and the possibility of making familia. And it is without a doubt that my time in Tuscaloosa was a blessing, a learning experience that let me embrace the unimaginable.

09.05.2012

During my trip, I met a beautiful queer woman, se llama Chela.  I had seen a video of her artwork, but a video can only tell you so much about the person you’re sitting next to at dinner.  As we shared a few words over a bowl of vegan chili, the images of her artwork replayed in my head—el caracol, la unión y el corazón. Pieces intertwined with la energía del universo, the same life energy that brings us together as people who, despite our struggles, continue to be inspired by everything around us. Her beauty was striking, as was her ability to be so gentle with the world, despite having to fight for (and against) so much in her life as a queer, undocumented woman.  She is a woman with eyes ready to consume the world, chaparra pero plantada firmemente in her philosophy.

We were at ease discussing our existence as familia, our life as queer gente within the movement. Because within the undocumented movement, our queerness is often pushed aside, and at times, even erased. The fear of adding more complexity to an already difficult fight leads to our own exclusion from the fight for immigration justice. We are asked to downplay our jotería for the public, because there is no room for sexual politics in the undocumented movement. We have to choose one self over the other. We can never be queer and undocumented, because to be both simultaneously would be a “sort of distraction” that would weaken the movement. But in the midst of the UndocuBus riders, I could for once exist as my undocumented and my queer self.  It meant piecing myself together for the first time; I felt whole within my own fragments.

09.09.2012

I learned about justicia, the need for justice in addressing the many faces of immigration.  My experience on the UndocuBus was a reminder that the struggle of undocumented immigrants goes beyond that of undocumented youth in higher education. As women from California spoke about the unjust conditions in the places where they work, many of the women from Alabama joined in. The stories went beyond having to work upwards of eight-hour shifts in order to feed three mouths at home, or bearing the cruel treatment of their patrones, who dismiss or sabotage them for being women. It reminded me of the many stories you’ve shared with me, sobre las largas horas de trabajo que te dejan más que muerta. In listening to these stories, I remembered something that I once read by la maestra Cherríe Moraga: “Coming to terms with the suffering of others has never meant looking away from our own.” So I am reminded of what it means to be compassionate for those whose lives I may see as being significantly different from my own. For me, being undocumented is not simply tied to my own experiences of injustices within higher education; it’s also about being able to acknowledge experiences I view as far removed from my own.

And it was the women who taught me most about fear, lo que es vivir sin miedo. The day after my arrival, a demonstration took place at the Federal Court House.  “No papers, no fear!” “No minute men, no KKK, no racist USA!” “Undocumented, unafraid!” It was the women who chanted without hesitation, sin pelos en la lengua. “Undocumented, unafraid!  Undocumented, unafraid!” Upon returning to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa, we formed a circulo to begin a collective plática among Alabama residents. Marisa Franco, a community organizer, spoke to us about fear in our communities, el miedo de ser indocumentado. ¿Cómo podemos perder el miedo hoy y en el futuro? It was this moment that allowed me to understand fear in a different light. Many shared stories of the fear we must confront every day as undocumented immigrants—the fear that at any given moment we can get caught living without papeles.  The fear that at any given moment we can be forced out and be inhumanly stripped away from our families.

You often tell me that at times “es dificil ver lo que esta en frente de nosotros.” As I began to think about my fears, I began to understand that overcoming fear is a process that goes beyond just me. I am not alone. Mamá, I made a family in Tuscaloosa. I was able to learn about lo que es ser familia en la lucha. We want to transform fear and create a path towards healing. We overcome fear by finding solidarity amongst ourselves, porque es transformativo ver a la comunidad unida en la misma causa. Like Natally, “es poder quitarnos el miedo de encima y decir ‘soy indocumentado’ a los cuatro vientos.” For her, it has meant embarking on a path of no fear, for her son back in Arizona. Learn to be fearless in the midst of danger, and be able to speak against injustice. Y tenemos que regar las semillas, porque una población informada es una población armada con conocimiento. And perhaps this is our life’s work, learning to reimagine the impossible in order to transform ourselves. I know there is a purpose for us in this path to conocimiento—to create a road for ourselves that aims to empower our communities.

Y entiendo que el miedo no simplemente desaparece. Todo tiene su tiempo. But our silences will not protect us. So I come back to all those moments of fear we’ve experienced together, when you told me, “Marco, muerdete la lengüa.” Mamá, silence can only get us so far. Y creo que es bonito perder el miedo. Even when I find it most difficult to talk about being queer and undocumented, I must be able to speak my own truth. Because every word I speak may lift this heaviness I carry.  It means learning to speak against those experiences of injustice I encounter, and listen to that gut feeling that tells me, “No, this isn’t right.”  And after twenty-four years of being consumed by fear of my undocumented status, after this trip, I am beginning to understand that I can learn to transform my demons with self-affirming acts, and continuously ask myself “what work is left to do?”

09.10.2012

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about the significance of the arts in the undocumented movement.  Art has provided a vital energy to this trip.  I firmly believe that we are all artists, and we have the right to create art.  Our life depends on our ability to be able to tap into a creative world that can give us tools for change.  Art is being able to re-create our humanity in the face of people who deem us only as “illegal.”  The power of art to nurture collective activism is immense, and such were my nights with the UndocuBus riders, who would stay up until sunrise to complete banners, posters, speeches, cuentos—the stroke of a brush on a canvas or the rolling of words off one’s tongue inspire us. Together, we, as undocumented artists, create the tools necessary for each day’s struggle.  Art became more than a language; it too becomes our instrument of growth and empowerment.

Art must be lived, and we have to learn to find beauty through the most heart-breaking of experiences. Art is our happiness and it calls upon us to live our lives truthfully. Art teaches us to re-imagine ourselves because it is necessary for our own survival. Y siempre, es saber hacer arte con todo corazón because art strengthens our hearts.

Mamá, I’ve found myself going on long walks during odd hours of the night. There is something soothing about the moon. En mis noches de silencio, la luna calls me.  La luna is my medicine, mi remedio. I need to continue writing, me hará libre.  And even when I fear that I will not be understood, I cannot sensor my own truth-telling. I need to write.  Because in writing, I give meaning to those sites of rechazo–find the heart of the pain and see the beauty in being queer and undocumented.

El miedo se quedó en la carretera.

siempre,

marco
 

Follow Marco on Twitter.

The Meaning of the Mariposa (butterfly). A symbol for all.

Migrantjulio pin
mother and daughter

Español abajo

The butterfly is a symbol of freedom as old as the glyphs in Cesar Maxit's "Migrant" poster.

It became the symbol of our tour organically, naturally. As we travelled, it kept showing up in new ways.  In Memphis we received a care package from Juliana in Phoenix with butterfly pins for each of us to wear, next to our hearts, for strength, even when we were carted off to jail.

When we confronted Kris Kobach in Birmingham, we released real butterflies with us. We demanded our inclusion at a hearing about us and we shamed him with our presence and overshadowed him with our testimony.

We embraced it from the beginning.  When Deejay Portugal brought his sketchbook to make-over Priscilla, the 1972 bus that arrived in Phoenix and would become our home for the next six weeks, we all rolled up our sleeves to transform her just like a catepillar becoming a monarch.

Like our community, the monarch is strong, beautiful and determined.

Deejay explained, it is one of the greatest migrants on the planet. It takes one generation of monarchs to fly from north to south but takes them about five generations to fly from south to north. 

They have been migrating for thousands of years. They where here when our ancestors used to migrate freely and are still with us today even though now we have borders, politicians' prejudice, the poli-migra, and prisons dividing us.

We embraced it as our symbol not just as a migrant but for its transformation. At every stop, every city, every town, a lot of people heard and talked about ‘’the bus that says sin papeles y sin miedo on one side and on the other no papers no fear and its full of undocumented people."

As we set out to change the world, each of us were changed ourselves.  We had to lose our fear. To take control of our destiny we had to embark on a hard path. We had to learn from each other, build community with each other, and trace the steps of those who have come before us fighting for freedom. As individuals and as a community, we took steps to fly free like the monarch; free from fear, free from intimidation.

The power we found in the symbol of the monarch is one that we think is universal. It does not belong to us, it belongs to all of us. And it becomes more powerful as more communities embrace it.

We invite migrant rights groups globally to adopt it as our symbol; of freedom, of grace, of the right to migrate.

And we ask that artists continue to create new ways to express our struggle with the butterfly at the center.  But like those artists who have contributed so far and as we risked everything on the ride for no personal gain, let us lift up and unite under this common symbol to win everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves.

[SHARE YOUR ART HERE]

The Ride for Justice is what gave us wings but it is upon returning home that we're beginning to take flight. Leading efforts to turn back SB1070 in Arizona, pushing against the polimigra, and strengthening our own communities to celebrate the power we hold within.

In Defense of Civil Protest

Originally Published in The Atlantic

The gray rain that shrouded Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention was pouring as I walked through the dark parking lot of El Siloe Church toward a deceptively cheerful-looking blue Greyhound bus. It took a few shouts to get the attention of the people sitting inside, but after a moment, I was greeted by B., the person who works with the press for No Papers, No Fear. "I'm sorry for being short with you," he said later. "I'm just trying to get our people out of jail."

Inside the church gymnasium, I met Miguel and Fernando, two of the thirty-seven people who ended up joining the bus that set out from Arizona on the road to Charlotte one month ago. Neither man has a current visa or Green Card, and neither is an American citizen. Yet Miguel has lived and paid taxes in the United States for 14 years, and Fernando told me that almost all of the riders have been here for more than a decade.

They come from many places - El Salvador, Mexico, Ecuador, and Nigeria, among others - but they call the U.S. their home. "Sin Papeles, Sin Miedo," or "No Papers, No Fear" reads the giant black writing on the side of their bus, and they have stopped in Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, and other southern states across the U.S. to share this message with the press and work with members of the Latino community to make illegal immigration and deportation a bigger part of the national dialogue in the lead up to the 2012 elections.

Before leaving Arizona in July, several of the riders had already faced arrests and jail time for peaceful protests, including Miguel, who was arrested during a peaceful protest outside of Phoenix's Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in July. On Tuesday, ten of the riders were arrested in downtown Charlotte during a non-violent protest at the DNC; they were released later this week. "I have to admire them," said Fernando. "Not everyone does this... they know that if they get arrested, it may not just be a few days in jail - it might mean months or even deportation proceedings."

If the stakes are that high, why would a bus full of people who illegally live and work in the U.S. publically declare themselves in front of police officers and press members? What change can a handful of protestors - joining the ranks of the many, many other protestors who descended upon the DNC - actually create, especially given that President Obama has long been the democratic nominee for president in 2012?

If one of the aims of No Papers, No Fear is to prompt dialogue by drawing the attention of the national press, they have succeeded - several articles have been written about their efforts, including pieces in the New York Times and on NPR and NBC News. But when I spoke with B. at El Siloe, he was trying to find a sidewalk with an awning downtown, worried that journalists would not stand in the rain for a 10:30 pm press conference about the riders in jail. The bus make stops in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and a few other places before heading back to Arizona, where Miguel and Fernando will return open deportation cases.

Mitt Romney has said that he "opposes all 'magnets' that entice illegal immigrants to come [to the United States]," and as governor, he "vetoed in-state tuition benefits... and opposed driver's licenses for illegal immigrants." Even if President Obama does get elected to a second term, he was unable to pass the DREAM Act in 2010, and the deferred deportation policy created by President Obama and Janet Napolitano this summer only applies to people under the age of 30 who meet certain qualifications. Fernando, 21, and Miguel's daughter, 15, may fit within the demographic that could benefit from this policy, but Fernando did not think this is enough. "It's not just about one generation," he said. "It's about mothers and families and migrant workers... it's about the whole community."

As I rode away from the church with a friend who was giving me a ride, he observed that No Papers, No Fear is unlikely to affect the national conversation about illegal immigration, and more importantly, it is unlikely to change the opinions of those who disagree with their arguments for deferred deportation.

While gauging the overall impact of any protest or movement is clearly impossible, I suspect that he may be correct, at least in part. Those who disagree with the many versions of DREAM Act that have been introduced in Congress or other efforts to create deferred deportation policies for immigrants without criminal records are unlikely to read articles about No Papers, No Fear published here or elsewhere, and they are even more unlikely to be persuaded to change their minds, despite the emotional appeal of the riders' mission.

Yet, regardless of one's position on the broad issue of immigration, No Papers, No Fear should give us pause.

Arizona is not a great place for people without papers right now, said Fernando, "...and those who stayed, stayed to resist and fight back." With no elected officials to represent them and the threat of possible deportation looming, these people decided to board a bus and ride hundreds of miles across the country so that others like them might be a little less afraid to drive to work, a few members of the press might give a brief nod to their daily hardships, and they can publically declare themselves fully part of the United States after living here for many years. They boarded the bus because they have no advocacy tools other than their voices, despite the very real risk that their actions would result in arrest, jail time, or deportation.

If Miguel were to become an American citizen, he would want to own his own business, he said. If his deportation case moves forward, he will leave behind 14 years of his life, a wife, and three kids, two of whom were born in the United States. For him, coming to the DNC was less of a choice than a final gesture of hope that democracy can actually work, that defending a belief peacefully, publically, and at serious personal risk can change our policies.

There is nothing democratic about a national convention held to celebrate a candidate who has been the presumptive nominee since April and the assumed nominee for much longer - this kind of protest is a much more meaningful form of political action. The No Papers,

No Fear riders are not American citizens, but their efforts indicate the seriousness with which they take our political process and want to be acknowledged as full members of our community. That should be enough to make anyone, critic or not, seriously reconsider the way that immigration is handled in our country and talked about in this election.

-- Emma Green

Migrants across U.S. taking protests to defiant new level

Originally Published in Arizona Republic

A growing number of undocumented immigrants in Arizona and other states are taking immigration protests to a new extreme, staging acts of civil disobedience by deliberately getting arrested in order to be turned over to federal immigration officials.

Often wearing T-shirts declaring themselves "undocumented and unafraid," the protesters have sat down in streets and blocked traffic, or occupied buildings in several cities including Phoenix and Tucson.

Dozens of protesters have been arrested, but in almost every case, federal immigration officers have declined to deport those in the country illegally. Protesters say they are planning more acts of civil disobedience, including possibly in Phoenix.

The acts are intended to openly defy stepped-up immigration enforcement that has led to record deportations over the past three years.

In Arizona, protesters are focused now on enforcement of a portion of the state's Senate Bill 1070 immigration law.

By getting arrested, immigrants say they are making a point: Illegal immigrants who are part of this country shouldn't have to live in fear of being deported and deserve to live here legally. They also think immigration authorities are less likely to deport illegal immigrants arrested in public because the government doesn't want the negative attention.

"Honestly, I can tell you I have never felt as free as when I was sitting in the middle of the street and when I was chanting 'undocumented and unafraid,' " said Daniela Cruz, 21. She is one of six undocumented immigrants arrested in March after blocking an intersection in front of Trevor G. Browne High School in west Phoenix.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say unwanted publicity has nothing to with the agency's decision not to take action against the protesters. In most cases, the agency has issued statements saying the protesters simply did not meet the agency's priorities of deporting criminals, recent border crossers and egregious immigration violators.

Still, undocumented immigrants could be taking a chance if getting arrested leads to a criminal record that could prevent them from gaining legal status in the the future.

Frustration spurs action

The rise of civil disobedience shows how some immigrant groups are turning to more-extreme measures out of frustration that the marches, work stoppages, voter drives and boycotts of the past have not worked. Reforms that include a proposed legalization program for millions of undocumented immigrants have not passed Congress, and deportations keep going up.

Last fiscal year, ICE deported a record of nearly 397,000 immigrants. ICE is on a pace to deport as many or more this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Comprehensive immigration reform likely won't be addressed again until next year at the earliest.

"Immigration reform has been on the national agenda for more than 10 years with no progress, and so, I think that is one of the reasons we are seeing an uptick in the level of civil disobedience," said Chris Newman, legal-programs director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, an advocacy group in Los Angeles that has worked with groups that engage in civil disobedience.

Carlos Vélez-Ibánez, director of Arizona State University's School of Transborder Studies, said the rise in civil disobedience is the result of a new crop of leaders who are inspired by some of the tactics of the civil- rights and Chicano movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

"In this case, people are putting themselves in harm's way to make the point of the unfairness of these laws," Vélez-Ibánez said.

Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that supports tough immigration enforcement, doesn't think civil disobedience now will sway public opinion to the degree that the civil-rights movement did.

"It's not clear to most Americans that this is analogous to the civil-rights movement," Camarota said. "In the civil-rights movement, you had American citizens demanding equality. In this case, you have people who aren't supposed to be in the country demanding the rights of citizens, and to most Americans, or at least a large fraction, that is not roughly the same thing."

Groups use e-mail, social media

Groups such as the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, Dream Activist and Puente Arizona, which is based in Phoenix, are only a few years old or less. But they have quickly built national followings through the use of websites, Facebook, e-mail blasts, Twitter and YouTube videos to promote civil disobedience. They also attempt to rally public support for individual cases of undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

Jonathan Perez, 25, a member of National Immigrant Youth Alliance, said he has seen an evolution in the undocumented-immigrant movement.

"Two or three years ago, people wouldn't come out. They were even afraid to be on camera," said Perez, an undocumented immigrant from Colombia who lives in Los Angeles.

Then, growing numbers of undocumented students known as "dreamers" began appearing on television and in front of Congress to tell their stories in hopes of generating support for the Dream Act, a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to gain citizenship if they attended college or joined the military.

The turning point came in May 2010, when a group of protesters dressed in caps and gowns staged a sit-in at the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain, Perez said. Among the four protesters arrested were three who were in the country illegally. It was the first time students had deliberately gotten arrested and risked deportation in an act of civil disobedience, according to Perez and other activists familiar with the incident.

Protests heat up

Since then, civil disobedience in Arizona and around the country has steadily increased.

Among the most recent examples:

On July 24, four undocumented immigrants were arrested after stopping traffic at an intersection outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix. They were protesting Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's tough stance against illegal immigrants on the same day he was at the courthouse defending himself against a racial-profiling lawsuit accusing his office of targeting Latinos to search for illegal immigrants.

On Sept. 4, 10 undocumented immigrants, including three from Arizona, were arrested when they blocked a busy intersection in downtown Charlotte, N.C., on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. The protesters said they wanted to push President Barack Obama to legalize illegal immigrants instead of deporting them.

On Sept. 7, four undocumented immigrants and two supporters were arrested while blocking traffic in Los Angeles. They were trying to pressure Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca to stop working with federal immigration authorities to identify and arrest illegal immigrants.

More civil disobedience may now be on the way. Local police are about to begin enforcing the so-called "show me your papers" provision of SB 1070 following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that rejected an argument that the provision is unconstitutional.

That provision requires police officers to check the legal status of a person stopped or arrested under certain conditions during investigations or traffic stops.

To protest the law, organizers from Puente Arizona say they are considering civil disobedience, including getting arrested by blocking streets.

"It's empowering," said Carlos Garcia, director of Puente Arizona. "But what it really comes down to is challenging the law itself and us being able to tell the stories of undocumented people and why they are risking everything."

In July, Puente created a Facebook page to drum up support for the "UndocuBus." About two dozen undocumented immigrants rode the 1970s-era passenger bus on a six-week trip across the country that began in Phoenix and ended in Charlotte. Along the way, the bus, painted bright turquoise with butterflies and the slogan "No papers no fear" on the sides, made stops in 15 cities, including Knoxville, Tenn.

In that city four of about 50 protesters blocking a city street were arrested on Aug. 28. They were protesting the local sheriff's participation in a federal program that gives local police the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

The UndocuBus' trip culminated with a protest that blocked an intersection near the site of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Among the 10 people arrested there was Phoenix resident and UndocuBus rider Gerardo Torres, 41, an undocumented immigrant from Aguas Calientes, Mexico.

Torres, a handyman, said it wasn't until the night before, during a meeting at a local church, that he decided to get arrested.

"I wanted to prove the point to the (undocumented) community that when we are together and we are united, we have a lot of power," said Torres, who said he has been living in the country illegally since 1993, when his six-month tourist visa expired.

Torres conceded, however, that he knew the chances of being put into deportation proceedings were slim because he has no criminal record.

Since June 2011, ICE has revamped its deportation priorities to focus more attention on removing illegal immigrants with criminal records instead of those with clean records and strong community and family ties.

After spending about 10 hours in jail, Torres was released. ICE declined to pursue deportation against the 10 protesters.

ICE officials declined to be interviewed.

In a written statement, Amber Cargile, an ICE spokeswoman in Phoenix, said the agency "fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinions."

"We recognize that our nation's broken immigration system requires serious solutions, and we continue to work with Congress to enact reform," Cargile said.

Since the acts of civil disobedience started, immigrant groups say, ICE has taken deportation action against only one protester, Miguel Guerra-Montana, 35. The Phoenix resident is one of four undocumented immigrants arrested after they sat down and blocked an intersection in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix.

In the statement, Cargile said ICE issued Guerra-Montana a notice to appear before an immigration judge and released him on bond after a federal database check revealed he had entered the country in January 2002 on a visitor's visa but failed to leave after the visa expired.

"ICE uses discretion on a case-by-case basis, taking enforcement action based on the merits of an individual's case and a comprehensive review of specific facts," Cargile said. An immigration judge will decide whether Guerra-Montana should be deported.

Guerra-Montana said he wanted to be placed in deportation proceedings. That would give him the chance to ask an immigration judge to let him remain in the U.S. legally. He has hired a lawyer and plans to argue that he should be allowed to stay because he has lived in this country for more than 10 years and two of this three children were born here.

He sees that as a better alternative than being stopped by police and turned over to ICE.

"I did this because I was tired of always having to hide," he said.

Although CE has not pursued deportation against most of the protesters, they are still taking a chance by getting arrested.

In September, Cruz, the undocumented immigrant arrested in March for blocking the intersection at Trevor G. Browne High School, went to court to fight two misdemeanor charges. A judge found Cruz guilty of the two charges. Now, she has a criminal record.

Cruz said she doesn't know if her record will hurt her chances of applying for any future legalization program or for President Barack Obama's deferred-action program, which lets young undocumented immigrants apply to stay and work temporarily in the U.S. without the threat of deportation. The guidelines for applying rule out undocumented immigrants convicted of felonies, serious misdemeanors or three or more misdemeanors. Department of Homeland Security officials have said applicants for deferred action with records of disobedience will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

But Cruz has no regrets.

"To me, even after I was found guilty, it was more than 100 percent worth it," she said. "We showed our community that once we come out, we are a lot safer."


 

Mi primera desobediencia civil - Kitzia

Observo a Maria y Alejandro, con respeto por el valor que tienen pero también con mucho temor por las consequencias que existen en tomar una decisión tan fuerte para apoyar a avanzar la historia del lado de la liberación de nuestra gente.

Desde hace días vengo observando la transformación de Maria que conozco desde que era adolecente como una mujer muy humilde y de voz sencilla, desde que vi el video en donde habla con indignación de los reportes sobre nuestros derechos civiles (que mas bien son basura, como ella misma lo dijo). Su voz penetra hasta en mis huesos en el video y estoy anciosa a subirme al autobús con ella y con mi mama, otra guerrera que me ha ensenado tanto.

A Alejandro no lo conozco muy bien, me parece algo timido pero siempre muy sonriente y de buen animo. Hablamos poco antes de que se fuera a preparar para la acción. Me impresiona saber que Alejandro, viviendo en un pueblo tan pequeño como Knoxville Tennessee donde la comunidad esta unida pero no se le ve mucho a la hora de la acción, talvez aun con un poco de miedo por la desobediencia, este tan decido a enfrentarse al monstro de la policía y la migra; realmente al monstro que es el imperialismo estadounidense.

El tiene mucha mas valentía que yo, pienso, y una fe tremenda en su comunidad que se contagia. Decidi apuntarme como una de las personas que van liderando las consignas. Por un lado porque quiero activar mi voz, porque estoy muy enojada y espero que mis gritos cambien en algo el ambiente de odio racista que estoy reconociendoy resintiendo más y más a lo largo de este viaje. Tambien porque Maria es una de los cuatro que se apuntaron y va a ser arrestada y le tengo mucho amor.

Durante las practicas la voz de Alejandro, como la mia empiezan a tomar fuerza; hay muchas logísticas, y muchos roles, pero el suyo es simple: “Si el sheriff no quiere venir a nosotros, nosotros iremos al sheriff para mandarle un mensaje contra 287G.” La voz de Alejandro crece. Durante la rueda de prensa cuando cuenta su historia, antes de comenzar la acción me entero de que Alejandro esta en un proceso de deportación.

Observo mi corazón pararse por un momento, después caminando con mi megáfono en mano veo un temblor, no de mi voz pero de mis manos. Un zumbido de energía, y el calor apacionado y humedo del sur me empieza ha hacer sudar la espalda.  Los cuatro compañeros, dos aliadas y dos indocumentados ya están sentados.

Gritamos “Sin papeles, sin miedo” “No Somos ilegales, no somos criminales, Somos trabajadores internacionales.” Escucho la dignidad de nuestras voces, mi miendo sigue agitando mis manos, pero mi voz se mantiene firme. El sumbido de carros no para. Algunos quieren atropellar a los compañeros que bloquean la calle. Con el megáfono paso a cada esquina, dirigiendo mis consignas a los autos, esperando calmarles al mirarlos a los ojos. Veo solo rostros blancos en los conductores, uno específicamente, un camión remoledor suena una claxon muy alto. Mis gritos y el de los compañeros se ahogan en el ruido pero no nuestra dignidad. Me doy cuenta de que todas las roles tienen peligro, y que estoy con mi cuerpo y voz, junto con todos mis compañeros indocumentados, mi madre, otros madres y padres de familia, gays y lesbianas, todos juntos estamos lidiando una batalla por la vida con nuestros cuerpos y voces. Por fin dejo de temblar, veo la sonrisa de Andres y don Daniel tratando de parar al chofer de la remolcadora gigante. Estoy con un grupo no solo valiente pero audaz en su amor. Me da tanto gusto ser parte de el y me siento bendecida.

Finalmente la policía viene a levantar a Maria. Ella cuenta su historia mentras la esposan, no deja de tener la voz en alto y de gritar “el pueblo unido, jamas será vencido.” Por un momento estoy plasmada totalmente quieta pero aun en la calle. Dejo que su voz me guie, y grito en el megafono “El pueblo unido, jamas será vencido.” Ahora se llevan a maricela, a la compañera blanca, Fran Ansley. Finalmente vienen por Alejandro. Veo una sonrisa de victoria en su rostro. Mis ojos están secos pero se que estoy llorando felicidad por todo el cuerpo.

Finalmente nos plantamos en las cuatro esquinas, seguimos manifestándonos. Cuando llevan a los compañeros en la patrulla, me sale del corazón y todos los compañeros que están de mi lado de la esquina, Pancho, Juan, Rosy, Martin, Daniel, Andres me siguen “No no no nos moverán, no no no nos moverán, porque estamos bien organizados! No Nos moverán. Unidos en la lucha, no nos moverán, unidos en la lucha, no nos moverán, Porque estamos bien organizados, no nos moverán.” Por primera vez entiendo completamente el poder de ese canto.

Seguimos gritando y cantando por más de media hora en las cuatro esquinas. No puedo cree que he visto historia haciéndose en Knoxville con mis propios ojos. ¡Y que he sido parte de ella! Mi voz no es tan fuerte como Chela y Karla que también lideran consignas, pero mi espíritu siente una renovación de fuerzas. Es tiempo de seguir la lucha, con valentía, y con la justificación moral de nuestra opression y represión, pero aun mas con nuestra fuerza moral de saber que no nos quedaremos sentados mientras nos oprimen. Ahí que ser valientes para enfrentarse a un sistema racista tan destructivo y de tanto odio. Ahí que ser valientes para decir nuestra verdad mientras que el sistema nos llama por muchos nombres sucios y falsos, para reclamar nuestra dignidad y exponer al mostro y las atrocidades que nos hace vivir cada dia.

Hay cosas que la mente puede entender, tácticas, teorías, conocimiento. Pero el corazón y el cuerpo pueden hacer un trabajo magnifico en la batalla contra el mostro. Mi cuerpo y mi corazón se abrieron y se curaron del miedo al practicar la desobediencia civil y al observar una prueba tan irrefutable de la sabiduría del corazón. Un sacrificio de amor tiene efectos históricos en nuestro camino a la liberación. Gracias Alejandro, gracias Maria, Gracias Undocubus por ensenarme una lección tan grande. En el sacrificio de amor no hay espacio para el miedo.

alejandromariaFranmaricela

From Black Power to Migrants’ Power

Source: ARTnews.com

As ’60s activist art enters museums, a new generation is creating an iconography of protest for today.

“There have been the singing nun and the flying nun, but the hippest of all is Los Angeles’s painting nun,” noted Newsweek in its 1967 cover story on Sister Corita Kent, the artist, activist, and teacher, whose first career survey, as The Saratogian reports, opened at the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore college this week.

Despite her edgy Pop sensibility, influential friends like Ben Shahn and Buckminster Fuller, and posthumous shows in various museums, along with a 2009 exhibition at Zach Feuer Gallery, Sister Corita never became a presence in the mainstream art world. No doubt this is partly because of her vocation (she was a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which she joined in 1936 and left in 1968), and the fact that she was a printmaker, rather than a painter.

Deploying the earnestness of a believer, an avant-garde sense of typography, and a collagist’s wit, Sister Corita (1918-86) mashed together words and slogans from advertising, the Bible, philosophy, poetry, and lyrics, producing hundreds of confrontational, inspirational prints on themes of individual empowerment and social justice. (Later her 10 rules for Immaculate Heart College’s art department, which cite and are sometimes misattributed to John Cage, became an online classic.)

“Almost in some ways she was outsider even though was she trained and was insider in other ways,” says Tang director Ian Berry, who co-curated the exhibition with Michael Duncan. “I’m hoping this show can get her into the trajectory of art conversation.”
 
Power Authority

More activist art was in the news when the Brooklyn Museum announced its acquisition of 44 rare works from the Black Arts Movement of the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s, landing Elaine “Jae” Jarrell’s stunning patchwork Urban Wall Suit (1969) on the cover of the Times’s Weekend Arts section.

The Black Arts Movement, conceived as the cultural arm of the Black Power Movement, was started by Amiri Baraka. But its manifesto of sorts was written by Larry Neal, who in a 1968 essay in Drama Review, called for “a radical reordering of the western cultural aesthetic” with new “symbolism, mythology, critique, and iconology.”

To convey its message of self-determination and nationhood, the medium of choice for the Black Arts Movement was usually screenprint with a liberal dose of collage, appropriation, and futurism, as evident in works like Revolutionary, Wadsworth Jarrell’s -Day-Glo 1972 portrait of Angela Davis, and Jeff Donaldson’s 1969 rendering of rifle-toting Wives of Shango.

That these radically conceived works are entering art-museum galleries–some in the Brooklyn Museum’s American Identities galleries this spring, and others in its upcoming exhibition about the Civil Rights movement next year –shows that the canon of postwar American art has come a long way, kind of.

Fight of the Butterfly

As the activist art of a half-century ago, like the agitprop art before it, enters museum collections, a new generation is developing its own esthetic. Writing in Creative Time Reports, Robert Lovato describes some of the cultural interventions that artist/activists are staging to campaign for migrants’ rights—particularly those adapting the monarch butterfly, that great migrator, as the movement’s symbol.

That butterfly floats through Migration is Beautiful, a video recently posted on rapper Pharrell Williams’ i am OTHER YouTube channel that’s been making the rounds of blogs. The three-part series follows artists, designers, and performers who have been using the arts to campaign for migrant justice in Arizona, at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, and in actions across the country. A prominent generator of new iconography has been No Papers No Fear, an advocacy group that put out a call for images to express the migrants’ struggle. Many of the artists who responded drew clearly on the precedent of ’60s activist art.

Doing the Rights Thing

One artist who has managed to bring the art of activism into the academy is Cuba-born Tania Bruguera, recently announced as the winner a Meadows Prize residency awarded by the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University.

Since she launched Immigrant Movement International as a project cosponsored by Creative Time and the Queens Museum in 2011, Bruguera has offered free classes, workshops, pro-bono legal advice, and other services, operating out of a storefront in Corona, Queens. This year, Bruguera plans to spend more time teaching immigrants art history—“not as an end, but as a means to something else,” she explains, using the imagery as a bridge to approach difficult subjects. Bruguera and her team have also been working to develop a visual arsenal for immigrants’ rights, including a ribbon whose blue and brown tones reflects their passage by land and sea.

More recently Immigrant Movement produced a rubber stamp to stamp currency with the notice that immigrants pay taxes, too. The image, and the idea behind it, are partly behind a performative event that the group will stage at “How Much Do I Owe You?”, an exhibition organized by No Longer Empty at the Clock Tower in Long Island City on Saturday, February 16, at 2 p.m.

 

Priscilla's Rebirth

The feeling…it was kind of like sitting in a hospital waiting room anticipating the birth of a child. But the reality was that I was standing tippy-toed, peering over a barb-wired cement fence trying to get a peep at Priscila the Undocubus. She was sitting sad in a tow yard.

We traveled from Phoenix to Los Angeles, after hearing the bus had been vandalized and by some accounts, destroyed. Our hope was that we could do some tinkering and get her back to Phoenix.  Over 40 years old, it’s been a rough road, as those of you out there with a love for old cars know.

As the debate on immigration reform has raged on in Washington DC, we’ve anticipated a point in which we would rev the engine again, board the bus to some location and once again make our presence, stories and demands known. As we closed the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice bus tour in Charlotte last year, we asked President Obama to change course on his record of deportations and criminalization of migrants. Now almost at 2 million deportations, it is clear that he will need more than a question. The President has said it himself, leaders must be compelled to take action, and a dilemma must be posed.

Back in Los Angeles, we had a choice to make ourselves. Scrap the bus, or figure out a way to get it back to Phoenix and in doing so, sign up for lots of repairs and work. In the end, we towed it back to Phoenix. For the many people who helped bring this bus to life last summer, it was a sad sight to see. But because of how far we’ve come and because we’ve got some distance to go, we have launched a campaign to revive the bus. It will be a heavy lift, and it will be long, but it will be as it was from the beginning, a labor of love, from and for the community.

We’ll keep you posted on the latest, in the meantime, consider chipping in to give us a jump start to get back on the road at bit.ly/onroadagain.

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