B o r d e r l a n d s    D i g e s t
Reading and Writing about Social Justice
an online monthly journal about
 communities and neighborhoods
working together 

June 1, 2019

This site is under construction for the June 1 edition

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Photo by 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.

Asylum Seekers stranded and in danger in Mexico
(a report from Doctors Without Borders, May 21)

YouTube Video

Earlier this year, the United States government enacted the Migrant Protection Protocols—new rules for asylum seekers that force them to await their US asylum hearings in Mexico. The policy, along with a myriad of new restrictions blocking entry and access to asylum processes in the US, has left thousands of migrants and asylum seekers stranded in violent border cities in Mexico such as Reynosa, Mexicali, and Nuevo Laredo.

In these cities there are only a small number of shelters where migrants and asylum seekers can find refuge, and many of them are already at capacity. This has forced people to live on the street, with little money and no access to medical or legal assistance. They fear for their safety and their future seems uncertain.

"At this point along the border, in Nuevo Laredo, kidnapping is the order of the day,” said Felipe Reyes, an MSF psychologist assisting migrants, asylum seekers, and deported Mexicans in two shelters in the city, La Casa Amar and Casa del Migrante Nazaret. “For that reason, migrants don’t walk in the street."

MSF provides medical, psychological, and social assistance to hundreds of people at various shelters along the US-Mexico border.

"It is a very difficult situation for the people I talk with,” said Reyes. “They have to deal with sadness, depression, feelings of guilt and suicidal thoughts. They have sleep disorders and suffer from anxiety because the waiting lists to start asylum procedures are very long and there is no certainty of refuge for them.”

Even as the US government declares a "state of emergency” at the border with Mexico, the actual crisis is the terrible violence and inhumane treatment that many migrants and asylum seekers have endured in their home countries. It is this violence—which is rampant across Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—that causes thousands of families to make the hard decision to leave and begin their journey north.

"For two years we suffered extortion, until the day came when we could no longer pay,” said Margarita, a 36-year-old woman from Guatemala who arrived at the Mexican border with her husband and three daughters, ages 16, seven, and six, and was interviewed by MSF n Nuevo Laredo. “I mortgaged my home and we sold everything. My dream was never the American dream. I had a good life with my family, but [the gangs] left us with no choice.”

Once people are on the move, the violence often continues as they travel through Mexico and again near the US border.

José is a Honduran man who was robbed and assaulted during his long journey through Mexico. Gangs in Honduras had threatened to kill Jose, his brothers, and sister, so they travelled north to apply for asylum in the US. He recalls the painful moment when his sister was kidnapped, as they arrived in Nuevo Laredo.

"When we got off the bus some men dragged my brother and me away and took my sister somewhere else,” he said. “After a few hours my brother and I were released, but she wasn’t. We still do not have any news of her. We paid five thousand dollars in ransom, which was all we had, but they have not released her. I do not know who can help us. We do not trust the police here. Our plan was to start the refugee application process in the USA, but now I do not want to leave here until I know what has happened to her.”

MSF teams work with people who are grappling with the difficulties of migration, their desire to build new lives for their children amidst the terror of living in Mexico, and the fear of having to return to their former homes.

“We want to follow the rules,” said Margarita, the mother from Guatemala. “Here they gave us a humanitarian visa, but Mexico is not an option for my family." She was almost kidnapped at the Nuevo Laredo bus station. "They wanted to take my daughters, I screamed with all my strength and we managed to escape. We are going to wait here as we have been asked before requesting asylum in the United States." At the moment she has no other option.

Despite her age, Margarita's six-year-old daughter is aware of the difficult situation her family has had to live through. When her mother asks, “Do you want us to go back to Guatemala?" she replies without hesitation, "No, because they kill you there."

Breaking News Links

What would Mueller say? Washington Post, May 24, Click here
"Past  Special Prosecutors explained themselves - 
and they all faced the same problems."

102-year-old woman's eviction threat sparks investigation, support 
from Schwarzenegger, LA Times, May 25, Click here

Judge halts Trumps' efforts to build 51 miles of border wall in San Diego
and Calexico, San Diego Union Tribune, May 24, Click here

Nogales border agent calls migrants 'subhuman', savages in text messages
Arizona Star, May 20, Click here

Seeking direction from the Knowledge Keepers of our nations, an indigenous perspective.
We have left our spirit behind, our spirit that defines our true identity and destiny as human beings, 
which is to be stewards of the earth.  We need to understand this part of our nature, 
that deep part of us that we refer to as the spirit. Cultural Survival, April 5, Click here for more

Web Analytics
Breaking News 

Testimony on the Dangers of Reporting on Human Rights
before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 16, 2019

YouTube Video

What is this Borderlands Digest?
by Craig Rock, Editor

Welcome to the fourth issue of the monthly Borderlands Digest. Here are a few updates before I go on to news stories and opinions featured in this issue.  This journal has been listing news briefs almost daily on pages 1 and 2 throughout the month. During the month of June, please feel free to check back for links to major or unique news stories in the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Tucson, San Antonio Express News, El Paso Times, and other publications. Links are initially on page one but are moved to page 2  after 3 or 4 days. Environmental news is usually moved onto page 3 after page one. 

Since this is a one-person operation, every major story about immigration will not be included on this site.  If you would like a weekly analysis of more immigration news, I'm recommending Migratory Notes, put together in southern California by four journalists there. Click here to see their May 23 newsletter along with related links+

Please notice that the two previous issues of my news journal are saved in the "Archives" section of this site on a 'article-by-article' basis. Readership for this site is now more than 250, with about 450 notices going out near the first of the month. Please let me know if you want to be deleted from this mailing notice. If for some reason I miss getting this journal to you, just check back around the first of every month at the same site (borderlandsdigest.com).  

Please accept my invitation to contribute your work to this news digest.  Ask your friends to participate as well. Financial donations are welcome as well - monthly expenses are becoming significant. Email me your interest to contribute articles, poems, and/or photos by the 24th of every month (duniterock@gmail.com).


1,600 Miles, 85 Hours
From a Monastery in Tucson to Nashvile

A Migrant Family Takes a Greyhound Across America

Entering the U.S. at a rate of more than 5,000 a day, 
new arrivals from Central America are departing border towns
 by the busload. And that bus is usually a Greyhound.

NY Times, May 26, Click here


 Volunteers Needed in Tucson

for Church Shelters

A significant number of volunteers at church shelters housing asylum seekers are snowbirds. They are returning to their other homes in the next month or so. Please consider taking their place as drivers, launderers, daytime food servers and assistants, or overnight attendants. As far as timing goes, we'll know more as Trump's new plans to halt the flow of asylum seekers is challenged in U.S. courts.

Contact Craig Rock for more information:

Breaking News

Journal Contents - May 2019
(Pages are accessible from links at the top and bottom of each page.)

Page 1 - Asylum Seekers Stranded and in Danger in Mexico; Breaking News on human remains found in desert and update of new border wall in AZ; Breaking News Links; What is this Borderlands Digest?; The Bizarro World of Donald Trump (Opinion); Volunteers needed for Tucson church shelters; So you want to create a social justice art show; Hackers target Amnesty International Hong Kong...; Committee to Protect Journalists on charges against Julian Assnge.

Page 2 - The Great Wall of Los Angeles; More Breaking News Links; Children ; How 30 percent of world's oceans could be sanctuaries by 2030; Jane Coasten interviews Noah Rothman on the "Unjustice of Social Justice Politics; The Privacy Project; Will a call for decency in public life work for the democrats; Photo exhibit on "What if Mexico still included CA, NV and TX.

Page 3 - Postcard exhibit on Americana meets Apocalypse; Teaching Art for Social Justice; LA Broad's museum exhibit on "Art in the age of Black Power"; Poetry Corner.

Page 4 (Links) - No Border WallsNew York City takes leap forward in Climate Change fight; Earth Day Proclamation Arizona State Senate; Court rules for public right to know about chemicals in use; Global environmental crisis in trade of recyclable plastics.

Page 5 - (Archives) A selection of articles from previous editions (March and 

Page 6 - (About) - Introductory remarks from previous issues.

An Alert from Committee to Protect Journalists (cpj.org)
May 24, 2019

Assange indictment marks alarming new stage
 in US war on leaks

Mexico City, May 24, 2019 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the U.S. Justice Department's indictment yesterday of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The administration of President Donald Trump disclosed 17 charges against Assange under the Espionage Act, relating to his receipt and publication of classified military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010 and 2011.

The indictment marks the first time the U.S. government has prosecuted a publisher under the Espionage Act. The act, which was passed in 1917 following the U.S. entry into to World War I, criminalizes the copying, obtaining, communicating, or transmitting of national defense information.

The charges are part of a superseding indictment against Assange; an indictment dated March 2018 charged him with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, as CPJ reported. Assange is fighting a U.S. extradition request in the U.K., where he is serving a 50-week sentence for violating his bail conditions, according to reports.

The expanded indictment, disclosed yesterday and reviewed by CPJ, cite as evidence Assange's public statements encouraging leaks, his communications with U.S. Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning, and the publication of classified documents.

"The Trump administration has bullied reporters, denied press credentials, and covered up for foreign dictators who attack journalists. This indictment, however, may end up being the administration's greatest legal threat to reporters," said CPJ North America Coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck. "It is a reckless assault on the First Amendment that crosses a line no previous administration has been willing to cross, and threatens to criminalize the most basic practices of reporting."

Courts have not previously weighed in on whether such a case violates First Amendment protections.

In a briefing with reporters yesterday, John Demers, the head of the National Security Division for the U.S. Department of Justice, said that Assange was not a journalist, and that it "is not and has never been the department's policy to target [journalists] for reporting," according to the New York Times.

Military and diplomatic cables obtained and shared by WikiLeaks disclosed civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, cases of torture in Iraqi prisons that the U.S. did not appear to investigate, U.S. opposition to a minimum wage law in Haiti, and a video showing a U.S. helicopter attack that killed two Reuters reporters.

At least three counts of the indictment charge Assange with creating a "grave and imminent risk to human life" through the publication of unredacted documents that included the names of individuals who had assisted the U.S. in conflict zones. In its prosecution of Manning, U.S. prosecutors argued that the leaks put hundreds of lives at risk, according to news reports.

The New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, and other news organizations all obtained and published classified information from the documents published by WikiLeaks.

Matthew Miller, a former chief spokesperson for the Justice Department under the Obama administration, told Politico that the Obama administration declined to pursue an indictment of Assange out of concern for the press freedom precedent and doubts about whether charges would hold up in court.

"The Espionage Act doesn't make any distinction between journalists and non-journalists," he told the New York Times. "If you can charge Julian Assange under the law with publishing classified information, there is nothing under the law that prevents the Justice Department from charging a journalist."

In a thread on Twitter, Carrie DeCell, a First Amendment lawyer with the Knight Institute, said, "The government argues that Assange violated the Espionage Act by soliciting, obtaining, and then publishing classified information. That's exactly what good national security and investigative journalists do every day."

Previous administrations have considered using the Espionage Act against reporters: the Nixon administration convened a grand jury to investigate the reporters who published the Pentagon Papers, and the Obama Justice Department opened a grand jury investigation into Assange, but decided against pursuing prosecution under the act.

Under the Obama administration, which pursued more Espionage Act indictments against journalistic sources than all previous administrations combined, eight government employees or contractors faced Espionage Act prosecutions for allegedly shared classified information with the media, according to CPJ research.

Manning, who was charged under the Espionage Act and spent seven years in prison before President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017, was arrested again in March for refusing the testify in a grand jury hearing about Assange; she was briefly released in early May after the term of the grand jury expired, but was rearrested on May 16, according to news reports.

CPJ sent a letter to the Obama administration in 2010 urging against prosecuting Assange for the publication of classified information. CPJ has since covered the Democratic National Committee's lawsuit against WikiLeaks and the potential dangers posed by the initial count of computer hacking leveled against Assange in April.

Read more of CPJ's work in the Archives section of this site