Arizona Migrant Trail Participants Demand an End to the Separation of Families by U.S. Border and Immigration Policies

Dear Migrant Trail participant,

As the nation witnesses the cruelty of the current administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, we are reaching out to those who have walked and supported The Migrant Trail in these past 15 years to call for your action. The indefinite separation of children from their mothers and fathers is the harshest and most callous aspect of this policy. We join in the outrage expressed nationwide by U.S. citizens, religious leaders, and political leaders sympathetic to migrants seeking safety from violence for their families.

Below please find a collective statement of resistance followed by four actions you might consider: contacting your elected officials, taking direct action, reaching out to media, and making donations. We have also compiled links to some excellent organizations and resources.

Witnessing this level of suffering and atrocity can feel overwhelming and paralyzing. We hope that these ideas will help you to continue your invaluable engagement on these issues. We invite you to share the statement, information, and calls to action.

In Solidarity,

Migrant Trail 2018 Organizing Committee

Arizona Migrant Trail Participants Demand an End to the Separation of Families by U.S. Border and Immigration Policies

For fifteen years, people of conscience have come together to participate in The  Migrant Trail, a 75-mile, week-long journey from the border in Sásabe, Sonora, to Tucson, Arizona, to bear witness to and call for an end to the deadly and inhumane policies of the U.S. government against migrants and border communities. The detention of (im)migrant families, the separation of parents and children, and the criminalization of border crossersincluding those seeking asylumare but the latest practices unleashed by the U.S. government to further dehumanize and torture immigrants and asylum-seekers in what is now a humanitarian crisis spanning more than two decades. The Migrant Trail has served as an act of solidarity and witness, recognizing the effects of border policies and the human rights violations that have ensued.

Since the mid-1990s, the United States has actively engaged in “Prevention through Deterrence” policies, attempting to discourage immigrants and asylum-seekers from entering the U.S. by making acts of migration so punishing that they are, by virtue of the dangers and hardships of the process, often lethal. However, these deterrence policies have failed in their mission, in large part because they do not address the root causes forcing men, women, and children to seek opportunity or refuge outside their home countries. Moreover, they fail to acknowledge or recognize the role that U.S. policies in Mexico, Central America, and South America have played in creating instability and poverty, particularly for Indigenous and agriculturally based communities. It is well-documented that the U.S. government has known since the inception of these policies that “Prevention through Deterrence” will not work, as it is not a holistic solution. (See: https://afgj.org/death-as-deterrence-the-desert-as-a-weapon & https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/16/us/politics/family-separation-trump.html)

Over the past 20 years, the U.S. has built more than 650 miles of border walls, funneling migration into increasingly hostile, dangerous, and deadly areas. The result is the documented deaths of more than 7,000 men, women, and children along the U.S.-Mexico border. These numbers reflect the individuals whose remains have been recovered. The true human casualty is not known, and it is believed to be much higher. Border communities have decried these deadly policies and called for change since their implementation, but instead the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border has expanded astronomically.

Participants and organizers of the Migrant Trail call on all people of conscience to stand in solidarity with our migrant sisters and brothers and demand that the U.S. government end practices and policies that separate families and cause migrant deaths.  

We who have walked the Migrant Trail have done so to bear witness to the deaths on the border and the tragedy of injustice in our midst. We walk in full recognition of the privileges that allow us to travel and return home safely. We must acknowledge the inhumanity of separating children from their parents, of denying asylum-seekers the opportunity to present their cases before a court, and the irreversible damage that is done to individuals already traumatized and seeking refuge. According to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), who recently visited a children’s detention facility in Texas, the government does not have a central documentation system to ensure children will be reunited with parents. Instead, it appears that parents have been given no documentation or information about the whereabouts of their children, as well as no direction for locating them once they are released and/or deported. It is abhorrent to us, as Americans, to know that these atrocities are being committed in our names and with our tax dollars. This injustice must not be allowed to stand. We will stand in solidarity and resistance until these wrongs are made right.

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Suggestions for Taking Action:

Contact elected officials: Given the high volume of calls being received by representatives, we recommend you email your elected officials. We also recommend you request that they contact you regarding your message, either on the email page or in the text of your message. Attend a Town all meeting where available.

Find your representatives: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov

Find your Attorney General: http://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php

Text “Resist” to 50409. ResistBot will prompt you to enter your address, then you can enter a message that will be faxed to one or all of your congressional representatives. The attraction of using ResistBot to fax is that it creates a paper trail that must be documented, which is more disruptive to our representatives.

Participate in direct actions and events:

  • On June 30th, there will be protests in many cities throughout the U.S. Follow “Families Belong Together” and note that some cities will have protests that might not be listed. Visit https://www.familiesbelongtogether.org/ for information about actions/events near you.
  • Appeal to individual border patrol agents to stand-down. The ACLU has stated that individual border patrol agents are not legally bound to separate families. We can appeal to the humanity of each individual agent to refuse to separate families.
  • From “FreeTheChildren”: Due to concerns about the safety and well-being of the children detained in these facilities, we do not recommend taking any action directed at the facilities. Experts in law and child welfare with knowledge of the SKP facilities have advised this plan of action. The children are already victimized. We don’t want to add further pain to their ordeal by 1) scaring them; or 2) forcing the removal of the children to less safe detention centers that are not equipped to properly care for them, like federal detention centers or tent internment camps. Please inform your networks to spread this message

Reach out to local media and your communities:

  • Part of our commitment to justice for immigrants is to share the stories of the border far and wide, into communities that do not know the realities of the borderlands, immigration, and seeking asylum. This moment presents an opportunity to share your Migrant Trail experience with your local media. Feel free to use the Migrant Trail statement here and suggested op-ed ideas in the Migrant Trail welcome packet.
  • Many walkers have also shared their stories with churches and community organizations in their local communities. Please consider doing the same; your personal story may generate a deeper sense of compassion about and commitment to this issue among your community members.
  • On social media, consider adding any or all of the following hashtags to your social media posts: #FreeTheChildren #FamiliesBelongTogether #FreedomForImmigrants #ShutDownICE #DecriminalizeMigration #AbolishICE

E. Donate to local organizations: There are many organizations providing assistance to migrants,  immigrants, and families separated by these policies. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The Florence Project | https://firrp.org: provides free legal support to the children detained by the U.S. government
  • RAICES Texas | https://www.raicestexas.org: provides free legal services for detained separated parents and the direct funding for bonds to get parents released
  • Families Belong Together | https://www.familiesbelongtogether.org: contributions will support the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which organizes domestic workers in the U.S. for respect, recognition, and labor standards and is a leader in the campaign to protect separated families
  • Keep Tucson Together Immigration Clinic | http://forms.nomoredeaths.org/donate-money : All volunteer clinic working in Tucson, Douglas and Nogales to prevent deportations of those in deportation proceedings. Also working at Nogales port with Tucson and Green Valley Samaritans to provide orientation to asylum seekers. (earmark donation for KTT)

Additional information and action: There are a number of organizations and news outlets that have also put together “take action” lists and talking points. Find out more from these outlets:

American Friends Service Committee | https://www.afsc.org

Mennonite Central Committee | https://mcc.org/get-involved/advocacy/alert/end-family-detention-separation

WOLA | https://www.wola.org/2018/06/5-ways-can-help-stop-trumps-cruelty-migrant-children-hateful-policies-today/

The  Huffington Post |  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-gleason-help-end-family-separation_us_5b2a4c34e4b05d6c16c9688c

Truth Out | https://truthout.org/articles/how-to-stop-child-separation-stop-sending-their-parents-to-prison/

Educate yourself: The systematic dehumanization and criminalization of immigrants did not start with the Trump administration. Bill Clinton first introduced the idea of “Prevention through Deterrence” in 1994 (https://afgj.org/death-as-deterrence-the-desert-as-a-weapon). And this new “Zero Tolerance” policy (note: not a law), which makes seeking asylum a federal crime, has been labeled an extension of the Deterrence policy (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/16/us/politics/family-separation-trump.html).

Attend Operation Streamline proceedings: For those in Tucson, Del Rio, or Laredo border patrol sectors, you can attend hearings to protest this practice and stand in solidarity (https://derechoshumanosaz.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/End-Streamline-Take-Action-flyer-FINAL-1.pdf).

Follow the Free the Children Coalition

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/FreeTheChildrenCoalition/

On Twitter: @FreeChildrenAZ

And use the #FreeTheChildren hashtag every time you write anything on social media. Let’s keep it trending!

In Tucson: Pick up a t-shirt at PopCycle (422 N. 4th Avenue) after Wednesday and wear it to Pima County Supes meetings and Operation Streamline hearings to show that we do not support the criminalization of migrants. Shirts are $20 and 100% of proceeds go to the Free the Children Coalition’s work.

In Arizona: Get in touch with the Arizona State Democratic Legislators and ask what you can do to support the efforts of checking in on the children. Though the well-being of children in the state of Arizona is the responsibility of the state, Southwest Key Program is a Texas-based company, and Arizona’s legislators are being told that the welfare of the kids in our internment camp (on Speedway & Oracle) is the responsibility of the state of Texas. https://www.azleg.gov/findmylegislator/

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