All posts by Paige Corich-Kleim

No Migrant Justice without Black Liberation: A Statement in Solidarity with Black Uprisings

To you, and everyone in the streets, organizing within their communities and building a world where Black lives not only matter, but thrive, we thank you and stand alongside you.

It’s midsummer in Arizona, and many of us are in the desert leaving water, responding to missing persons calls and providing care to people crossing during the heat, navigating a humanitarian crisis mid-pandemic. For aid workers, it’s not uncommon to meet people in the desert with a familiar story: Profiled by police, arrested, handed over to ICE, deported and now trying to get home to their families and loved ones. 

As the uprisings have increased in the United States, we’ve also seen Customs and Border Protection drones circle Minneapolis, Border Patrol deployed to Washington D.C. and armed CBP agents posing in front of community shrines in San Diego. ICE and Border Patrol have long extended the militarization of the border into cities and the interior of the country and through these actions are only reaffirming their racist and xenophobic agendas. 

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Dion Johnson are only the most recent examples of police brutality, actions of an institution rooted in white supremacy. What we recognize as modern day policing in the U.S. was born from a need to prevent uprisings amongst slaves, and to preserve Black people as property. 

This legacy of white supremacy lives on in the prison system, which is a clear reimagination and continuation of slavery, incarcerating Black people at a rate five times that of white people. Immigration detention and deportation are an extension of the same racist policing and court systems, often occupying the same buildings and being run by the same for-profit corporations.

Migrant justice and Black liberation are inextricably linked. 

Immigration is a Black issue. The stories of Black migrants are often erased or minimized, as are the struggles of Black people everywhere. Routine discrimination against the undocumented community is increased even more by anti-Blackness, making Black immigrants far more likely to be funneled into the deportation machine.

In the most recent installment of our Disappeared report series, we demanded that Border Patrol be defunded and dismantled, with reparations paid to family members of all those killed or disappeared by U.S. border enforcement policy. This recommendation was built on the understanding that no reform could end Border Patrol violence and extrajudicial killings. In making these demands we took guidance from centuries of Black abolitionist thought and organizing. 

Black feminist, activist and professor Angela Davis summed up the current political moment in a recent interview: “What we are seeing now are new demands: demands to demilitarize the police, demands to defund the police, demands to dismantle the police and envision different modes of public safety. We’re asked now to consider how we might imagine justice in the future. This is a very exciting moment. I don’t know if we have ever experienced this kind of global challenge to racism and the consequences of slavery and colonialism.”

No More Deaths/ No Más Muertes affirms our call to defund ICE and CBP and joins the call to defund the police nationwide.

When we defund and demilitarize the police and pay reparations to the communities they have terrorized for centuries, we may finally begin to construct a society which is not based on brutality and murder.

So we invite you, as friends and supporters of migrants, immigrants and racial justice to give generously to Black immigration organizations at this pivotal time in history. Donations to organizations such as Movement for Black Lives or to Black Trans groups will save lives.

In solidarity and gratitude,

No More Deaths/ No Más Muertes community

Facing Death in Detention

Due to the threats of COVID-19, since February, the No More Deaths Keep Tucson Together Legal Clinic has focused its efforts on preparing humanitarian parole requests and motions for bonds for more than 50 of our clients detained at La Palma, Eloy & Florence, AZ ICE detention facilities. Court dates are set and then cancelled, re-set and then cancelled. Meanwhile, precautions against the spread of the pandemic in cramped detention centers are abysmal. There is no soap in sinks, no access to gloves, and detained women and men just receive two face masks each – only after signing waivers of liability for the masks. Under these conditions, it is no surprise that more people are becoming infected with COVID-19. As of this writing, ICE acknowledges 69 known “positive” cases of COVID-19 at the La Palma facility alone.

Recently, at an La Palma detention center in Eloy, detainees blocked the doors to their “pod” with tables and chairs, demanding masks, gloves, hand soap and testing. In response, the officers from CoreCivic – the for-profit company that operates many detention centers – broke through and shot them with rubber bullets and sprayed them with tear gas. As this violence demonstrates, detained men and women are not safe in ICE custody. No More Deaths, along with Amnesty International and others, have called for the release of all ICE detainees during this pandemic, and we have been working hard to secure the release of these individuals.

On May 1st, our legal team was able to secure four bond hearings; three of our brothers were granted bonds and one was continued. One of those released is an 18-year old high school senior, who has never been in detention before, and had his bond set at $9,000. Detention was horrific for this young man. Another of the three released tested positive for COVID and has been quarantining since release. As of this writing, we have been able to get nine detainees out since February and back to their families, and hope to get more out soon.

What is clear is that the government’s policy of denying all petitions for humanitarian paroles and continuing bond hearings, not providing masks, gloves, soap and testing are all purposeful and orchestrated forms of mass negligence, not just coincidental incidents of chaos. There can be no doubt that the United States is executing a policy of detention = death. The No More Deaths/ Keep Tucson Together Clinic will continue to shine the light on these deadly practices and to do everything in our power to secure freedom and life for our sisters and brothers in detention. If you are able, please consider making a generous donation to the No More Deaths Keep Tucson Together Bond Fund at bit.ly/nmdbond. We are committed to doing everything we can to leave no one behind to die alone in detention.

Article by Margo Cowan, volunteer, Keep Tucson Together

No More Deaths Emergency COVID19 Bond Fund

The COVID-19 health pandemic has amplified many of the injustices faced by thousands throughout the world: systemic poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and housing —issues that force people to embark on journeys away from their homes as an act of survival and where danger awaits if they are imprisoned in detention centers like La Palma Correctional Facility in Arizona. We need your support to help free people in detention ASAP! 

Arizona detention centers are notorious for their abusive practices towards detained migrants, lack of access to proper hygiene, and cramped quarters. So far, there are 8 known COVID-19 cases  in Arizona detention centers and ICE is doing what it knows how to do best: hiding their abusive practices in the shadows and away from the public eye by going on lockdown. Rather than treat people with compassion, they are responding with abuse. There are reports that people inside La Palma have been put in solitary confinement and even pepper sprayed  after expressing concerns about COVID-19 and the lockdown. Homemade masks have also been confiscated and people are not being given soap. 

Getting people out of detention is a matter of life and death. As we continue our on-the-ground organizing to #FreeThemAll, we are also fighting in the courts. Our immigration clinic program, Keep Tucson Together, is currently representing 43 people in ICE custody and we have 10 bond hearings scheduled for this week. We are demanding everyone be released on bonds and/or humanitarian grounds. 

But, bonds are not cheap. A single bond can be  $10,000+ and most people and their families do not have that kind of access to wealth. Our goal is to fundraise $80,000 for an Emergency Bond Fund and we need $25,000 more this week to meet our goal and ensure people get out sooner, rather than later.  

Can you donate to help #FreeThemAll? 

We so appreciate your support.

The No More Deaths Community 

P.S. If you can’t donate, please help us spread the word on social media and with your community and continue to take action online!

Webinar Series from SOA Watch: Confronting Forced Migration & Violence in the Americas

Click here for Webinar Links and More info!

From SOA Watch:

Dear SOA Watch,

We recently shared SOA Watch’s difficult decision to indefinitely postpone the 2020 Training Day and Action Convergence in Tucson to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect our communities. Given the magnitude of the current health and humanitarian crises, it is our responsibility to find alternative forms of solidarity with those most disproportionately affected. We must remain vigilant to state violence and authoritarianism as governments protect corporate interests at the expense of peoples’ wellbeing and health.

With this in mind, we invite you to join us for the Confronting Forced Migration and Violence in the Americas Webinar Series on Saturday and Sunday, April 4th and 5th, 2020. Together with Stop US Arms to Mexico, Alliance for Global Justice, No More Deaths, Veterans for Peace, and other compas, we are facilitating a series of five, one-hour webinar workshops. The series will examine the impacts of US-backed state violence in the Hemisphere, the root causes of forced migration, militarization, and using effective narratives, mutual aid, research, and lobbying to nourish our collective work as we face the current humanitarian crisis.

Please note that interpretation from English to Spanish or Spanish to English will be provided throughout the entire Webinar Series. The webinar schedule, panel descriptions, and SEPARATE registration links for each webinar are found below.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

9:00 am – 10:00 am Pacific Time / 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Eastern Time
Voices from Abya Yala (the Americas): Realities and Resistance
Panel held in Spanish with English interpretation.Panelists:
Lucia Ixchiu, Somos Abya Yala – Somos una América, GuatemalaJorge Andrés Forero-González, Somos Abya Yala – Somos una América, Colombia
Abilio Peña, Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de América Latina «Óscar Romero» (SICSAL)
Description:
In the Kuna people’s language, Abya Yala means “mature land,” “living land,” or “blossoming land” and refers to America. In the first panel, organizers from Guatemala and Colombia reflect on the impacts of neoliberalisms, extractivism, state violence, forced migration, and the pandemic within their communities and throughout the Americas. We will also discuss how communities and social movements are resisting and organizing to safeguard their rights, dignity, and territories in this context.
Registration Link: bit.ly/SOAWatchWebinarSeries1

10:30 am – 11:30 am Pacific Time / 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Eastern Time

Countering Anti-Migrant Narratives and Media Work
Panel held in English with Spanish interpretation.Panelists:
Maha Hilal, Justice for Muslims Collective
Laura Carlsen, Americas Program
Description: 
Panelists will discuss how narratives are used to both highlight and conceal the nuances of forced migration and US interventionism. We will also discuss the role of the media in creating narratives that criminalize and dehumanize communities of color and the emergence of new narratives developed by migrants and asylum seekers.
Registration Linkbit.ly/SOAWatchWebinarSeries2

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm ET
Impact of COVID-19 Crisis on Migrants at US-Mexico Border
Panel held in English with Spanish interpretation.Panelists:
Jennifer Harbury, Angry Tías y Abuelas, Rio Grande Valley
Nicol Bowles, Community organizer in Texas Borderlands
Casa Carmelita, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Community Support Center
Description:
The coronavirus has grabbed headlines in local and international media. However, we have heard little about the disproportionate impact of this pandemic on the most vulnerable communities. In this webinar, we will discuss the situation facing asylum seekers on the US-Mexico border and how local communities are responding to these challenges.
Registration Linkbit.ly/SOAWatchWebinarSeries3

Sunday, April 5, 2020

9:00 am – 10:00 am PT / 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET
Researching U.S. Militarization of  Borderlands and Mesoamérica
Panel held in English with Spanish interpretation.Panelists:
Natalia Báez, Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights
John Lindsay-Poland, Stop US Arms to Mexico Project of Global Exchange
Description:
How do we access information on the US gun trade, Mexican military forces, and how they impact human rights violations? How can we translate hard data on militarism for social media use and to change policy? In this webinar, veteran researchers guide us through how to access information on US-sourced weapons in Mexico and Central America.
Registration Linkbit.ly/SOAWatchWebinarSeries4

10:30 am – 11:30 am PT / 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm ET
Policy advocacy on U.S. militarism and guns in Mexico and Central America
Panel held in English with Spanish interpretation.Panelists:
Dana Frank, Professor of History emerita at the University of California at Santa Cruz
Eugenio Weigend, Center for American Progress 
Description:
This webinar draws on the extensive experience of two effective policy advocates regarding gun policy and US policy in Honduras to respond to the following questions:  What  policies impact violence and arms trafficking in Mexico and Central America? Are the gun industry and militarists using the current crisis to promote harmful policies? How can we engage legislators in Washington to change those policies?
Registration Linkbit.ly/SOAWatchWebinarSeries5

SOA Watch is committed to challenging US-backed state violence that protects capitalism and profits at the expense of the wellbeing and dignity of our communities and territories. We stand strong with, and in, our communities and build our capacity to organize, resist, and engage in mutual aid. We hope you will join us for this webinar series and continue supporting our collective work for justice and structural change!

In continued solidarity,
Brigitte, Candice, Dévora, Pablo, and Roy
SOA Watch

FACEBOOK LIVE AVAILABLE: @SCHOOLOFTHEAMERICASWATCH

Final Charge Against Dr. Scott Warren Dropped! Statements from Outside Court

GREG KUYKENDALL: Well, we are enormously grateful to the entire community for all the support that we’ve had for this fantastic result wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the fantastic and enormous support we’ve gotten from the community. Which is a poor way of saying thank you very very much to the community for everything thats happened. 

Today the government took the position that people of conscience should not be prosecuted for acts of humanitarian aid. In other words humanitarian aid, by definition, is not a crime. [clapping]

REPORTER: Did he say that specifically or are you inferring this or do you have this written somewhere?

GK: It’s the only thing logical to infer. On the eve of Scott’s sentencing the government filed a motion in good faith to dismiss in the interest of justice justice demands that person of Scott’s background, faith, and activities not be prosecuted. And that’s what happened today. The government filed a motion and the motion said we are filing this in good faith in the interest of justice. And that’s why Scott’s not being prosecuted.

REPORTER: You were sort of raising the question in court of why they dropped the charges?

GK: I think it’s a reasonable question to ask.

REPORTER: So why do you think they changed their mind now?

GK: I think you guys should ask them why they changed their minds now. But I think it’s clear they changed their mind because the law is humanitarian aid is not a crime. Scott’s not guilty and they recognized that that was going to be writ large by the 9th circuit if they continued their prosecution of Scott. 

REPORTER: They felt they would fail on appeal?

GK: I think it was pretty clear that they would fail on appeal and that there would be 9th circuit law explaining in even larger terms than Judge Marquez recently explained that humanitarian is not a crime. 

REPORTER: In reference to No More Deaths different federal agencies over the past 15 years… do you think they’ve learned their lesson and are no longer going to target No Mor

GK: I hope that No More Deaths is no longer going to be targeted anymore. There’s certainly no reason for people of conscience trying to save lives in an environment where the government has intentionally weaoponized the desert and people are losing their lives in droves there’s certainly no reason why the government would target people like no more deaths. 


From Paige Corich-Kleim, No More Deaths Media Coordinator:

I’m just going to say it … Humanitarian aid is never a crime! 

As people of conscience, we will continue to provide care and solidarity to people in the borderlands. Our organization has extended our streak of legal wins—now over 40 different victories in court over the last 18 years.

However, despite our organization’s victory today, we must also acknowledge the escalating violence toward directly affected communities—many people who seek justice in this country never find it. 

As we speak, thousands are stuck along the border due to the disastrous Remain in Mexico Policy, or MPP (Migrant Protection Protocol). In the interior, the Trump administration has also promised to use SWAT-like teams aided by Border Patrol, to enforce immigration. 

Last week a federal judge finally agreed that conditions in Border Patrol detention under Obama violated people’s rights. It took five years to get that decision, and over those years people continued to die in ICE and Border Patrol custody as a direct result of inhumane conditions, and medical neglect. Later today dozens more will be convicted in Operation Streamline and sent to these same centers.

Just a few days ago in DC, the family of teenager Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guerea got word from that the Supreme Court there would be no consequences for the Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa, the man who shot and killed their son in 2010. The ruling will impact the civil charge the family of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez in Nogales, who filed suit against BP agent Lonnie Swartz for his murder.

Arguments for this case were heard the same day Scott began his retrial, the same day arguments on DACA were heard. With no ruling on DACA, the program remains in limbo, with recipients unsure if the program will continue. 

Finally, yesterday on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, just south of where volunteers received their charges, Border Patrol hosted a media spectacle on Monument Hill, an attempt to show that wall construction and controlled detonations are “not a big deal” We know that this process is not just causing irreparable environmental degradation, it is destroying sacred sites of the Hia C’ed O’odham and Tohono O’odham and a massive violation of their sovereignty. 

These are dark times. 

We are glad—for Scott, his family, and the broader community of those providing and receiving humanitarian aid along the US–Mexico border—this final charge was dropped, but let us take a moment for Sergio, Jose, and the more than 100 others who have been killed by Border Patrol directly, as well as the countless more who have died or disappeared due to US Border Enforcement strategy. 

We celebrate another victory today, and we celebrate the overwhelming support of our Southern Arizona community, but this is not over. We will continue to find ways to intervene and reduce harm in the borderlands. Thank you all for your continued support.” 

NO MORE DEATHS VOLUNTEERS WIN #CABEZA9 APPEAL: CONVICTIONS REVERSED

February 4rd, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact:
media@nomoredeaths.org (520) 240-1641

NO MORE DEATHS VOLUNTEERS WIN APPEAL:
#CABEZA9 CONVICTIONS REVERSED:


TUCSON, AZ – On January 31st, United States District Judge Rosemary Márquez reversed the convictions of four No More Deaths volunteers. The volunteers were convicted in January 2019 of multiple misdemeanor charges stemming from their humanitarian aid work on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (CPNWR) during the summer of 2017 in an area known as the “trail of death.” 

The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge covers over 803,000 acres of remote desert with no natural water sources and very few publicly accessible roads, making it one of the deadliest migration corridors along the border. In 2017, the year the volunteers were charged, 32 sets of human remains were found on the refuge.

The four volunteers were convicted after a bench trial in January, 2019, issued fines and placed on probation. The decision was appealed shortly after. The reversal was based on an examination of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), one of many defenses the volunteers’ lawyers presented. In the order, Judge Marquez wrote: “Accordingly, the Court finds that application of the regulations against Defendants violates RFRA, and the Court will reverse Defendants’ convictions.”

One key component of applying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is to determine whether or not the government has a compelling interest to enforce the law in question.  In her order Judge Márquez noted that “…the Government claims a compelling interest in preventing Defendants from interfering with a border enforcement strategy of deterrence by death. This gruesome logic is profoundly disturbing. It is also speculative and unsupported by evidence.”

“This ruling reaffirms what No More Deaths has always maintained: providing life-saving humanitarian aid is never a crime. The reversal of the convictions is a victory for all people of conscience and righteousness who seek to end the death and suffering in the borderlands.” said volunteer Alicia Dinsmore “People continue to die every day on Cabeza Prieta and we will continue to act on our moral imperative to do this vital work.”

In a separate case, No More Deaths volunteer Dr. Scott Warren faced two misdemeanor charges for similar work, in addition to his high profile felony charges. His lawyers argued a successful RFRA claim for one of the charges, but he was found guilty of another. The conviction was announced by Judge Raner Collins minutes after a jury returned a not guilty verdict for his felony charges in November. He will be sentenced on February 27th. Dr. Warren and his attorneys will decide if they will appeal his conviction after sentencing. 

No More Deaths remains committed to protecting the human rights of and advocating for the liberation of all people, regardless of race, religious belief, gender expression, sexual orientation, nationality and documentation status.

Communications from the Missing Migrant Crisis Hotline

Since January, No More Deaths’ Missing Migrant Crisis hotline has logged 6,640 calls in their mission to help migrants lost, injured, and dying in the desert borderlands.

“When we established the hotline in 2017,” an operator remembers, “there were very few of us.

Often it’s a mother calling, consumed with unimaginable pain and worry, searching for her son or daughter. Cases include detention searches and migrants missing in the desert of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California.”

If you Google “Searching for Someone Lost at the Border” or “Persona Desaparecida Arizona,” No More Death’s hotline comes up. When a call comes in, volunteers ask the caller’s relationship to the missing person and where the individual crossed, urging callers to contact their home country consulate. When the person is detained, No More Deaths helps them navigate the detention system, explaining their rights while in detention and how to open a phone account and commissary.

For those seeking asylum, No More Deaths offers legal resources. If the person is not detained, the volunteer ascertains who had the last communication and when, where the person departed from, and any other source of information, such as someone who crossed with them or knew their route. The window for potential rescue is two to five days.

“Our response depends on time frame, whether the missing person has a phone, and their physical condition,” a volunteer explains. “It’s a tremendous emotional strain for the same few people on call, so it’s healthy to build up the team. Soon, there will be eight trained operators. We’ve established protocols for interacting with Border Patrol. We are expanding our relationships with several consulates, the Colibri Center (who works with the Pima County Medical Examiner), the Tohono O’odham Nation, and allied search groups.”

Many families don’t want to talk directly with authorities who work within the system that has deliberately disappeared their loved one. Detention center employees don’t always speak Spanish. Often relatives are put through to an answering machine. The ICE locator is the only public database for detainees, and it can be difficult to navigate or inaccurate because authorities enter the name wrong, and there can be long delays.

“We act as a humane cushion between the family and authorities,” an operator observes. “We give emotional support during recoveries, disappearance, and death. We meet with the family, have
dinner with them, light a candle for their loved one, offer what comfort we can.”

If families can help with a search, No More Deaths teammates take their lead from the family. “We accompany them on searches, assist with logistics and navigating maps, and give moral support,” a volunteer says. “But we have to be clear about our capacity and not give false hope. We try to stay realistic.”

When medical examiners confirm the identity of remains, No More Deaths team members travel to be with the families, if in Arizona or Sonora, Mexico. Struck by the families’ strength and resilience, volunteers strive to uphold their stories, to prevent them from being defined only by a dot on a map, lost in the flood of statistics.

— Katherine Pew, No More Deaths volunteer

NMD Confronts Local Sheriff’s Office About Discriminatory Search & Rescue Practices, Demands Change

In response to the death of an undocumented teenage boy last May when governmental agencies did not deploy a search and rescue operation when requested, a coalition of concerned community members called an emergency meeting. The No More Deaths Abuse Documentation and Search & Rescue teams met with Pima County, Arizona Sheriff Mark Napier, the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Commission, and a member of the deceased’s family. The goal of the meeting was to strongly urge the Pima County Sheriff’s Department to deploy its resources in response to borderlands search and rescue emergencies in the future for all people without prejudice.

The death of this individual is tragic, and unfortunately not an anomaly. The No More Deaths Missing Migrant Crisis hotline received at least 857 calls about missing migrants from May through July of 2019, and Pima County’s 911 dispatch line receives between 4-5 emergency calls from people crossing the border every day. Historically, Pima County has transferred all 911 calls from people crossing the border between ports of entry to the U.S. Border Patrol with no follow-up, documentation, or mobilization by Pima County’s Search and Rescue team.

The Abuse Documentation Team’s upcoming third installment in the report series Disappeared: How U.S. Border Enforcement Agencies are Fueling a Missing Persons Crisis, exposes systemic governmental non-response to reported borderlands emergencies. The report will include analysis of two years of over 456 case notes from the Missing Migrant Crisis Line and over 2,000 emergency 911 calls. In 60% of cases in which an emergency search was requested from Border Patrol, there was no confirmed search.

In a follow-up meeting in August, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department informed us that they had taken steps to improve their Search and Rescue protocols. The Department has committed to
respond to search and rescue cases that are within their jurisdiction and when Border Patrol will not respond or the county deems the Border Patrol effort inadequate. The department also committed to documenting the outcomes of cases in their jurisdiction which 911 dispatchers transfer to Border Patrol. In response, the Abuse Documentation team is working to widen our coalition to continue to advocate for Pima County and all government agencies to ensure effective emergency Search and Rescue services for all distressed people in the borderlands.

The next installment of the Disappeared report series detailing Border Patrol emergency non-response will be released in early 2020.

You can read the first two reports in the series here: www. thedisappearedreport.org.

— Parker Deighan, No More Deaths Abuse Documentation Coordinator