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Not from here, nor from there

Gloria Meneses-Sandoval  |  Issue: July | August 2019
El Machete Illustrated

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“Not from Here, Nor from There” is what our U.S. immigration policies are forcing young deported immigrants to say and live. (Centers are appearing in Mexico to assist “other dreamers” to get help when deported.) The history of immigration reform in the United States has benefitted very few of the undocumented, hard-working immigrants from all over the world.

On June 4, the House of Representatives passed HR 6 – The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 – by a vote of 237 to 187.  That House bill died in the Senate. Last Thursday, on June 27, Nancy Pelosi capitulated and let the Republican Senate’s $4.6 billion immigration bill pass the House. The bill gives $280 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and more than $1 billion to Customs and Border Protection (CPB).

The laws protect corporations that squeeze labor to increase their profits. The hype about terror, drugs, national security is catering to the U.S.-born and uninformed persons. It is to maintain a level of fear and mistrust of the supposed “invaders.” It is also a blatant disregard of fairness and human life.

In his book, Reform Without Justice, author Alfonso Gonzales mentions that immigrants are viewed as “perpetual suspect foreigners.” Before and since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, public money has been shifted to ICE, a national police force searching for “criminals,” like in the time just before the Civil War when patrols hunted escaped slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act.

Most migrants hope to gain asylum – a legal protection for them to be in the United States while their cases are reviewed, which may take years! Meanwhile, thousands wait in border towns on the Mexican side for their number to be called to go before an immigration judge on the U.S. side.

Since 2014 there has been concern about the detention of unaccompanied children, about the zero-tolerance policy against increased illegal border crossings, about the separation of babies from their parents, and the general suffering among people wanting an opportunity to work for a living.

Court orders to reunite families are being ignored. Some migrants are returning to their homelands where they risk death. Mexico’s southern border with Central America is being militarized with Mexican National Guard forces to stop migrants from entering.

There is an attempt to criminalize humanitarian actions such as the recent trial of Scott Warren in Arizona. Warren was facing 20 years for committing the “crime” of providing two migrants with water, food, and lodging when he was arrested in early 2018. The jury could not reach a verdict in his case. Eight jurors found Warren not guilty; four said he was.

Now federal prosecutors announced they will retry Warren on two charges related to aiding migrants along the U.S.- Mexico border. This is after a jury refused to convict Warren.

Federal prosecutors will make their case against Warren again in an 8-day jury trial in November. They have dropped a conspiracy charge against him. If convicted on the two felony migrant harboring charges, Warren faces up to 10 years in prison.

In Mexico, Irineo Mujica and Cristóbal Sánchez were arrested for their involvement in the Central American caravans and for working with the migrant advocacy group Pueblos Sin Frontera. There is an attack on leaders taking compassionate actions to help people to find solutions to their suffering.

We must defend these leaders and stop the funding of the ICE machine. Demand that our public funds be used for social services and healthcare instead. We must demand a comprehensive immigration reform that is humanitarian and fair to all 11 million without building a wall on the border. If corporations are free to cross borders, then why not the workers?

We are not from here, nor from there!

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