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B o r d e r l a n d s    D i g e s t
(www.borderlandsdigest.com)
Reading and Writing about Justice Issues
an independent monthly journal with a focus on
 the environment, immigration and criminal justice

December 2019/January 2020  



Part of the Olympic Mountain Range in the U.S. viewed from Victoria, British Columbia.  Photo Craig Rock

Editor Craig Rock, duniterock@gmail.com
Send in your stories, poems and photos by the 24th of each month.
Click on most images to enlarge

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‘Whose side are you on?’: Police chief rips McConnell, Republicans for opposing ‘boyfriend loophole’ law after shooting death, Washington Post, December 10, click here

Church nativity displays Jesus, Mary and Joseph in cages, separated at the border,
 Washington Post, December 8, click here

Read the above story about the nativity scene at a California Methodist church by clicking the link above.

What the ‘Battle in Seattle’ can teach today’s progressives "Groups don’t need to agree 100 percent on tactics to work together toward a shared goal."

Read the story in the Washington Post, Dec 1 click here


Around the globe, political grief boils
into mass protest,
LA Times, November 25

"Governments are not performing worse than they were 30 years ago, but as they grow they create winners and losers.... Citizens have higher expectations now. Over the last ten years we have seen an increasing pattern of large-scale protests.....I see technology as an accelerator," according to Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Read what other experts are reporting with examples from various countries in this article by Melissa Etehad:

Congress can lessen the cruelty and destruction along the border by cutting the 2020 budget for the border.
click here to read the story


Greta Thunberg at the United Nations

 "How dare you! You have stolen my dreams,
 and my childhood, with your empty words..."

YouTube Video


See the United Nations press release on the Eco Links page
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Fighting for Real Justice
a report by Earth Justice

"This report, “Fighting for Real Justice,” examines actions of the Trump administration and Congress that threaten people’s ability to have their day in court. These dangerous policies, being pursued at the behest of powerful corporate and ideological interests, seek to diminish the role of the courts in securing important public protections for individuals, workers, families, communities, and the environment, with particularly profound implications for already marginalized groups."  Click here to read the full report
___________________________

From Kino Border Initiative (KBI)- November 22, 2019

Catholic Relief Group Opposes
Expansion of 'Remain in Mexico' Policy
The Kino Border Initiative strongly opposes the expansion of Remain in Mexico to the Tucson sector. Beginning on Friday, November 22, CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) will transfer many asylum-seeking families and individuals from the Tucson area to El Paso before forcing them to remain in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico for the duration of their asylum proceedings.
At KBI, our Catholic values are rooted in a commitment to the well-being, dignity, and rights of all people. At taxpayer expense, this decision will transport people seeking asylum in Arizona over 300 miles to a dangerous Mexican city, where it is difficult to access legal services and where few people have the support of their family and communities. Even now, Ciudad Juárez is well beyond its capacity to meet the basic needs of asylum seekers. This is because of the high numbers of people who are already stranded there due to metering and Remain in Mexico’s March implementation in El Paso, which has, at this date, forced nearly 15,000 people back to Juárez. The shelters in the city are overstretched, and many of the asylum-seekers currently in the city are living in precarious and substandard conditions. As winter arrives, this will force people—including infants, children, and the elderly—to live in particularly hostile and unsafe conditions. In addition, an October Human Rights First study reported that there have been over 340 public instances of rape, kidnapping, torture, and other violent attacks against asylum seekers returned to Mexico.  An expansion of Remain in Mexico will only cause these numbers to increase.
 
Placing people in such precariousness and danger is unacceptable under any circumstance, but it is particularly egregious when services exist in the region to provide hospitality and welcome to asylum-seekers and migrants. Faith communities, an expansive base of committed volunteers from throughout the state and beyond, and legal service providers—among countless others—exist in southern Arizona. KBI has a partnership with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to offer legal assistance to asylum-seekers in the region; in contrast, only 1% of people subject to Remain in Mexico have access to an attorney.
We are ready and willing to continue to offer hospitality and assistance to migrants and asylum-seekers. Arizona communities have been doing this work for years, and we have the capacity and desire to do so going forward. CBP is intentionally transferring people away from places where services exist and placing thousands of asylum-seekers in harm’s way, exposing them to suffering and danger, and blocking them from seeking safety. This expansion of Remain in Mexico is another of the Trump administration’s many systematic attempts to block an individual’s right to seek asylum. The violations against asylum must be ended decisively and immediately. 
For more information on the Kino Border Initiative, click here
Mission of the Kino Border Intiative: To promote US/Mexico border and immigration policies that affirm the dignity of the human person and a spirit of bi-national solidarity through:

  • Direct humanitarian assistance and accompaniment with migrants
  • Social and pastoral education with communities on both sides of the border
  • Participation in collaborative networks that engage in research
    and advocacy to transform local, regional, and national immigration policies


New Report from U.S. Policy Immigration Center - October 29

Seeking Asylum - Part 2
(This new report by the USIPC validates many of the previous reports by human rights organizations on the dangers of forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their initial asylum hearings. Here is a part of the report's introduction along with some of its findings. The complete report can be read by clicking here.)


From July 2019 to October 2019, the U.S. Immigration Policy Center (USIPC) at UC San Diego partnered with migrant shelters in Tijuana, Mexico and in Mexicali, Mexico to survey asylum seekers who have been returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. A total of 607 asylum seekersa were interviewed, which makes this the most comprehensive analysis to date of the impact of the Remain in Mexico policy. No person was interviewed unless we could verify their MPP status. Verification of the MPP status of our respondents was done by examining their Department of Homeland Security (DHS) paperwork, focusing on their Notice to Appear (NTA) forms.b


Fear of Returning to Mexico

● Nearly 9 out of every 10 of our respondents (89.5%) who were asked by U.S. immigration officials about fear of being returned to Mexico 
responded by expressing fear of being returned to Mexico

 ● Of these individuals, 40.4% were given a secondary interview by an asylum officer and 59.6% were not. In other words, U.S. immigration officials further investigated the fears of approximately 4 out of every 10 who expressed fear about being returned to Mexico. However, approximately 6 out of every 10 were placed into the Remain in Mexico policy without any further investigation into the fears that they expressed about being returned to Mexico

 ● Of those who were asked by U.S. immigration officials about fear of being returned to Mexico, responded by expressing fear of being returned to Mexico, and were then given a secondary interview by an asylum officer, 63.9% reported that their persecutor(s) can find and have access to them in Mexico but were returned to Mexico anyway

 ● Of those who were not asked by U.S. immigration officials about fear of being returned to Mexico, but nevertheless expressed a fear of being returned to Mexico, just 3.9% were given a secondary interview by an asylum officer to further investigate these fears and 96.1% were not

 ● Asylum seekers who attempted to enter the U.S. along the California portion of the U.S.-Mexico border were 14.7% less likely to be asked by U.S. immigration officials about fear of being returned to Mexico when compared to asylum seekers who attempted to enter the U.S. along the Arizona portion of the U.S.-Mexico border

 ● Just 17.1% of our respondents reported that they were given information by U.S. immigration officials about how to access legal services while in Mexico

 ● Just 19.7% of our respondents reported that they were given information by U.S. immigration officials about how to access social services, such as housing and food, while in Mexico 


Conditions in Immigration Detention


● 85.7% of our respondents reported issues related to food, including not being fed, not being given enough to eat, or being fed spoiled food

 ● 85.2% reported issues related to water, including not being given water, not being given enough to drink, or having to drink dirty or foul-tasting water

 ● 85.1% reported issues related to sleep, including not being able to sleep, not getting enough sleep, having to sleep on the floor, or having to sleep with the lights on ● Only 20.3% reported being able to shower, get clean, or brush their teeth

 ● Less than half (41.9%) reported having access to a clean and sanitary toilet

 ● Nearly 9 out of every 10 (89.5%) reported that the detention facilities they were held in were overcrowded

 ● 85.2% reported that it was too cold in “la hielera” (the “icebox”) Treatment in Immigration Detention

● Just over half of our respondents (51.1%) reported experiencing verbal abuse in immigration detention

 ● 6.7% reported experiencing physical abuse in immigration detention

 ● Asylum seekers who attempted to enter the U.S. along the California portion of the U.S.-Mexico border were 4.7% more likely to report experiencing physical abuse in immigration detention when compared to asylum seekers who attempted to enter the U.S. along the Arizona portion of the U.S.-Mexico border 

● Approximately 1 out of every 4 (25.1%) reported having their property taken away from them and not returned after they were released from immigration detention. Money being taken was most commonly reported by our respondents

 ● Just over 1 out of every 3 (36.7%) who had medical issues reported that their medical issues were adequately addressed. However, this means that nearly 2 out of every 3 (63.3%) who had medical issues reported that their medical issues were not adequately addresse





This Issue: Human Rights and the Environment
A Common Ground in Critical Times
by Craig Rock, Editor

Welcome to the December/January issue of Borderlands Digest. This issue focuses on the environment and immigration issues.  I hope this news journal helps capture the continued injustice fostered by the Trump administration on these issues. Personally, I feel it is counterproductive (and much too slow) to lay the responsibility for reforms in these areas to any one age group, any one non-profit, or any one political party. 

The financial and political power of fascist-like forces is global and goes far beyond people like Trump and Putin. We only have watch the current impeachment hearings to see how bullying and graft on an international level has affected the quest for freedom and reform in not only countries like Ukraine but in the United States itself. It's heartening to see some hearing witnesses who have stepped forward to provide a more hopeful and professional approach in setting the standard that no one in the this country is above the law.  Goals of organizations interested in true reform in these critical times should point to a primary strategy of working together for the health and welfare of the planet and its people around the world.

Phoenix Church Shelters for Russians, Chinese and Others
(not Central Americans)

Arizona church groups that have previously housed refugees released by ICE are concerned about the new government policy of shipping detainees from the Arizona area over to El Paso despite Arizona church and community efforts to provide humane living conditions while refugees wait for transportation expenses from sponsors around the country. Russians, East Indians, and Chinese are now showing up at church shelters in Phoenix. (Read more in this Arizona Republic article mentioned on the website of Migratory Notes.)

Links to major news stories and press releases from environmental and human rights groups will be posted every few days. Feature stories, poetry, and photos will be added as they come in from participants. As I mentioned before, the success of this project depends on your help in submitting stories relevant to the quality of life in your community. In order to be considered, stories should focus on the environment, immigration,  criminal justice or health care.  

Naomi Klein's New Book, On Fire...

I recently attended a presentation by Naomi Klein at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Fourteen hundred people heard her hopeful plea that many of our environmental challenges can effectively be addressed if we work together methodically on the reforms presented in the Green New Deal. Her newest book,  On Fire, the (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, covers her findings. At her presentation, Klein pointed out that the many challenges we (our parents and grandparents) faced in the Depression of the 1930s were successfully addressed by Franklin Roosevelt's administration.  It wasn't just Roosevelt who made many of these programs successful; it was hundreds of thousands of people in communities across the country. It was writers' groups, union workers, women's groups, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and many others. They all had separate interests but shared a common ground of getting us out of the Depression. Here is some more information about the book from Klein's website, www.naomiklein.com 

The climate crisis has moved from a future threat to a burning emergency. The Green New Deal is a vision for transforming our economies to battle climate breakdown and rampant inequality at the same time. Klein argues that only this kind of bold, roots-up action will rouse us to fight for our lives while there is still time.

 

Published in the US, UK and Canada on September 17, 2019, On Fire was an instant New York Times bestseller and was serialized in The Guardian UK and in the Covering Climate Now news syndicate worldwide.

The Impact (More from her website)

Twenty years after No Logo, and five years after This Changes Everything, On Fire explains how the bold ideas and action within the Green New Deal could avert climate catastrophe and be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.


Naomi Klein’s seventh book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal gathers for the first time Naomi’s impassioned reporting from the frontlines of climate breakdown, and pairs it with new material on the high stakes of what we choose to do next.


On Fire’s long-form essays, based on her extensive research and reporting, show Klein at her most prophetic and philosophical, investigating the climate crisis not only as a profound political challenge but as a spiritual and imaginative one as well. Delving into the clash between ecological time and our culture of “perpetual now”; the soaring history of rapid human change in the face of grave threats; rising white supremacy and fortressed borders as a form of “climate barbarism” and more, this is a rousing call to transformation – and a dire warning about what awaits if we fail to act.


With dispatches from the ghostly Great Barrier Reef to the smoke-choked skies of the Pacific Northwest, to post-hurricane Puerto Rico, to a Vatican waking up to the case for radical change, recognizing that we will rise to the existential challenge of climate change only if we are willing to transform the systems that produced this crisis — On Fire captures the burning urgency of the climate crisis, as well as the fiery energy of a global movement demanding a catalytic Green New Deal.


Watch the viral video about the Green New Deal, narrated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


Journal Contents 
(Pages are accessible from links at the top and bottom of each page.)

Page 1 - Recent news links; updated stories.

Page 2 -  Art and its connections to justice issues through non-fiction, fiction, poetry, photography, history, exhibits and other formats.

Page 3 - Older News Links and press releases including Keeping an Eye on Big Brother;  Some Ways to Help Migrant Children; Dangers of Keeping Asylum Seekers in Mexico; Amnesty International's report on Humanitarian Aid; More Food for thought.

 Page 4 Eco Links (Environment - Links and Reports) -
More Press Releases from Environmental Groups and the United Nations. Links to Interesting Websites.
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Links to Recent News Stories

Ukraine’s Zelensky is making headway against corruption.
But the fight risks angering Trump.
Washington Post, December 1, click here

Trump administration’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program
to shuttle migrants from Tucson to El Paso

Washington Post, November 22, click here

Scott Warren found not guilty in No More Deaths Case
Tucson Sentinel, November 20, click here

Americans have questions about Medicare-f0r-all.
Canadians have answers, Washington Post,
November 18, click here

State Judge Is Accused of Helping Man Evade ICE.
 Federal Charges Followed. NY Times, Nov 16, click here

Prosecution rests, defense begins in 3rd day of re-trial
of Scott Warren (No More Death Volunteer)
Tucson Sentinel, November 14, click here

They’ve managed the forest forever. It’s why they’re key
to the climate change fight,
LA Times, Nov 5, click here

Supreme Court Case of Dreamers may come down
to Chief Justice Roberts, LA Times, Nov 11, click here

Briton who helped found Syria's White Helmets dies
in Turkey, AP, Canadian Press, November 11, click here

Mexico Mormons: Nine US citizens, including children,
killed in ambush, BBC, November 5, click here

Trump team has plan for national parks,
Amazon, food trucks and no senior discounts
Los Angeles Times, November 4, click here

3 More Arrests After 39 Bodies Are Found
in Truck in U.K
. NY Times, October 25, click here

Trump’s D.C. hotel abruptly cancels Christian aid
group’s Kurdish solidarity event
Washington Post, October 22, click here

A photographer's account from the front
lines of Turkey's incursion in Syria
Washington Post, October 18, click here

More than 4,000 people have been lynched in the 
U.S. Trump isn’t one of them.
Washington Post, October 22, click here

We defend press freedom around the world.
Trump is making our job harder.
Opinion, Washington Post, October 21, click here

31 arrested, 300 charges in multi-provincial sex-
trafficking operation based in Ontario (Canada)
CBC, October 16, click here




Human Rights Watch Reports 
November 22

Iran: Environmentalists Sentenced
Unfair Trial; Continued Due Process Violations
(Beirut) – An Iranian revolutionary court has sentenced at least six environmental experts detained since January 2018 after an unfair trial where the defendants apparently could not see the full dossier of evidence against them, Human Rights Watch said today. The court informed the detainees on November 20, 2019 that they had been convicted of “collaborating with the enemy state of the United States” and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 4 to 10 years.