The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Thursday, September 29, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Physical abuse. Sexual assault. Ethnic and racial slurs. Family separation.
Forced to walk barefoot through the desert. Shoved into cactuses. Driven repeatedly in circles until nauseated.
As we shared with you last week, these are just some of the more than 30,000 instances of abuse that the humanitarian group No More Deaths documented in their report on the treatment of migrants in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol.
In response to the documented abuses in the report, the Border Patrol released a non-answer, stating that agents “were required to treat all those they encounter with respect and dignity.” However, as was reported by the San Antonio Times, “it was unclear whether CBP planned to investigate the report’s allegations.”
One thing that is clear however, is that these abuses must stop. We need your help to make sure people around the country, and especially in your local area, know what is being done in our names. Can you write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper? Using our easy tool it won’t take more than a minute or two.
In the last week, articles about these abuses have appeared in USA Today, Reuters, the Associated Press, the International Business Times, and the Houston Chronicle, to name just a few. Leaders in the faith community are speaking up. And more than 2,000 of you have taken action, signing the petition to President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to end the culture of cruelty and unaccountability at the U.S. Border Patrol.
While it is positive that the report has garnered attention, we need to step up the pressure on President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to put a stop to these atrocities, enact binding standards of treatment for those in Border Patrol custody, and establish independent oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.
One way you can help is to speak out locally against the abuse of migrants in the care of U.S. Border Patrol and to urge the Obama Administration to investigate and address these crimes.
Please help us keep the pressure on the Obama Administration so that this report does not become old news. These human rights abuses are happening by our government, with our tax-dollars, in our names. Something must be done!
If you have not already signed the petition, please do so today, and email it to friends and family, and share it on your Facebook wall.
Standing on the Side of Love
Last week, Unitarian Universalist Mass Action, Standing on the Side of Love, and Unitarian Universalists from over ten congregations stood in solidarity with Centro Presente and the immigrant community at Boston City Hall to urge Mayor Menino to stop cooperating with the Secure Communities program.
At the vigil, Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager Dan Furmansky announced the results of a study released last week by No More Deaths which details conditions within Border Patrol detention centers and made a compelling case for why the Secure Communities program is an important issue for Unitarian Universalists to engage in.
Rev. Sue Phillips, Massachusetts Bay/Clara Barton District Executive, spoke about how the Secure Communities program is “bad theology” and thwarts our efforts to create a Beloved Community, saying “The only secure communities are the ones that justice-seeking people create. Our communities can never be whole when some of us are subject to sudden detention and deportation. Our communities can’t be free and fair when some of our brothers and sisters are terrified every day that family members might disappear. When our communities are weakened by this kind of fear and injustice, we all lose a little bit of the light of god that is in us. And we can’t afford to. We need every drop.”
Rev. Fred Small also inspired the vigil participants with music, singing in both English and Spanish.
For more photos and coverage of the vigil, check out Spanish-language news outlet Siglo21′s article.
What can you do?
Sign the No More Deaths petition calling for the end of Border Patrol abuse:
If you are a Massachusetts resident, call the Boston City Police Commissioner Ed Davis to ask him to pull out of the Secure Communities Program at 617-343-4200.More >
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Monday, September 26, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Last week, our partner organization No More Deaths released their report documenting 3 years of abuses of migrants by the U.S. Border Patrol. In the last few days, major media outlets have been covering this report and the abuse.
While Border Patrol has responded to the report, we have still not heard anything from the Department of Homeland Security or President Obama, both of whom are ultimately responsible for the conduct of members of the Border Patrol.
In order to make sure these abuses stop, we need to get President Obama to take action.
Can you please sign our petition to President Obama and ask three friends to sign also? Click here to sign:
If you did not see it, our note below from last week provides more background on the No More Deaths report and the 30,000 documented cases of abuse by the Border Patrol.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Dan Furmansky, Standing on the Side of Love <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 2:48 PM
Subject: 30,000 Documented Abuses of Migrants is Enough
Imagine this: you are an undocumented immigrant who has been detained for deportation in a facility under the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol. You are dehydrated, but denied adequate water to hydrate you. You are famished, but given only crackers as the hours stretch into days. Your cell is overcrowded, unsanitary, and extremely hot. You need your medication, but cannot access it. You are separated from your spouse and do not know where they are, and when you ask, you are subjected to verbal abuse. Finally, you are forced to sign papers you do not fully understand, and “repatriated” to a town that is unfamiliar, in the dead of night, without your cell phone or your personal belongings.
Think this is fiction? Think again.
Today, our partners at No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes released a painstakingly comprehensive report, “A Culture of Cruelty,” about the human rights abuses perpetrated against migrants in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol. No More Deaths interviewed nearly 13,000 migrants over three years who had been held by the U.S. Border Patrol in three different short-term detention facilities. The findings in the report are staggering. In their interviews, No More Deaths documented more than 30,000 incidents of abuse and mistreatment.
During the processes of apprehension, transportation, detention and deportation, individuals’ basic human rights and dignity are consistently and systematically violated. The problems are systemic, as the types of abuse individuals have reported remain alarmingly consistent, from year to year, from interviewer to interviewer and across interview sites. Psychological, emotional and physical abuse are consistently reported, as are unsafe and unsanitary detention practices. Border Patrol abuse continues, and despite complaints, neither the agency, nor the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Border Patrol, act to stop it.
These abuses are taking place in the name of the United States Government, under President Obama’s watch, and they must stop! Please join people across the country in lifting up the voices of the thousands of migrants detailed in this report who have suffered human rights abuses.
Consider these findings:
- 10% of interviewees – including teens and children – reported some form of physical abuse.
- Only 20% of people in custody for more than two days received a meal. Children were more likely to be denied water than adults.
- Of 433 incidents in which emergency medical treatment or medication were needed, medical care was provided in only 59 cases. Only 14% of those in need of medical care prior to deportation were provided it.
- Close to half of all interviewees reported overcrowded processing center conditions, and temperatures maintained at extreme heat or extreme cold. A quarter reported unsanitary or dirty conditions.
- Of 75 complaints filed by No More Deaths since 2008 on behalf of detainees with the Department of Homeland Security, zero have resulted in an identifiable outcome.
The systemic culture of abuse is pervasive, reaching not only undocumented migrants, recently arrived to the United States, but long-term residents and citizens as well— people with homes, jobs, and families in our communities. With this report, No More Deaths and thousands of supporters are shouting together: the culture of cruelty must stop now! It is absolutely vital that Pres. Obama acknowledge and address the findings of this report.
Please sign the petition to Pres. Obama today:
No More Deaths is an all-volunteer, humanitarian organization whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border. We are working hard to support their indefatigable efforts of lifting these voices up. This afternoon, UUA President Rev. Peter Morales will offer remarks on a conference call for the press about the report, and this evening, I will speak about the report’s findings at a rally organized by Centro Presente at Boston City Hall, along with UU ministers Revs. Fred Small and Sue Phillips. The Standing on the Side of Love campaign has also solicited the support of other faith leaders to speak out against these documented abuses.
Over the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more about this report, and how you can help make sure the voices of migrants who have dealt with a harsh and inhumane system of detention are not silenced. For today, please click here to sign the petition to Pres. Obama. It’s urgent we gather thousands of signatures in a short period of time if the Administration is going to take this report seriously.
The abuses found and documented in the report do not stop at the gates of the Border Patrol’s detention facilities. Mistreatment is a core part of the system of detention and deportation that targets immigrant communities all over the country. Together, we can make a change for the better.
With hope for a more humane world,
Standing on the Side of Love
P.S. If you would like to read the report, you can find it here: http://www.cultureofcruelty.org/
P.P.S. A No More Deaths volunteer will be a guest on our immigration webinar this coming Monday @ 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Sign up here if you haven’t already.More >
On Saturday, September 17th, members of REACH for Immigrant Justice at University Unitarian Church, Seattle participated in an action at the Northwest Immigration Detention Center in Tacoma, WA as allies of the Northwest Immigrant Youth Alliance (NWIYA). A dozen immigrant youth and young adults “came out of the shadows” as they told their stories and defiantly proclaimed they are “undocumented, unafraid and unashamed.” The youth witnessed to how immigration policies such as “Secure Communities” and “E-verify” had affected their own lives. These policies cause innocent people to be incarcerated in privatized detention centers, such as the one in Tacoma, as a first step toward deportation. Faith leaders of the Washington New Sanctuary Movement participated in the action at the Northwest Detention Center as well as leaders of the Oregon New Sanctuary Movement and Portland Jobs with Justice. REACH for Immigrant Justice is a partner of the Washington New Sanctuary Movement.
This summer, the Washington New Sanctuary Movement lifted up the Standing on the Side of Love message in its own statement challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s recent announcement that it will mandatorily implement the “Secure Communities” program in every jurisdiction in the United States. The New Sanctuary statement proclaims:
Our religious traditions see each and every human being as a child of God with fundamental human dignity and with whom we are called to be neighbor. Accompanying those who leave or flee their countries of origin due to poverty, violence, repression and the restoration of family is part of our heritage and practice as enumerated in our sacred scriptures and basic teachings. In a word, as noted by our Unitarian Universalist brothers and sisters, it is our sacred duty to “Stand on the Side of Love” for all of God’s people, especially those labeled as “other.” All people and immigrants regardless of status are welcomed into our sanctuaries and are worthy of our outreach in a spirit of hospitality and welcome in our country and in our communities. We pledge to continue services and ministries without distinction to all in our midst.
The entire statement is available here.
Submitted by Roberta Ray, REACH for Immigrant Justice, University Unitarian Church, and Washington New Sanctuary Movement.More >
At 6pm on Sunday, September 11th, First Unitarian Church of Dallas hosted a “Multifaith Service of Prayer and Remembrance” to mark the tenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. Our own congregants gathered with members of various faith communities in the Dallas area for prayer, silence, music and reflection. Clergy and leaders from four congregations offered reflections on the question, “What challenges and opportunities do I bring from my unique faith tradition as we seek to be better neighbors in this time and place?” This question gives voice to our intention for the event to be forward-looking. We wished to honor the lives of those lost on September 11th while setting our gaze forward, seeking to deepen relationships in our communities and ask what we can do to serve one another as sisters and brothers in one shared community.
Some of the congregations involved had already formed historical relationships. In the late 1800’s, when First Unitarian Church of Dallas formed, we had no formal place to worship. Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, now the largest Reform Jewish congregation in the Southwest, opened its doors to us and let us worship in their space. Almost forty years ago, we were able to offer the same hospitality to the Islamic Association of North Texas, a mosque in Richardson, TX that began worshipping in our fellowship hall.
Our multifaith service began with the call to prayer (azan). We joined in prayer, a hymn from the UU hymnal, songs from our choir, a ritual of lighting candles in memory and hope, and reflections from area religious leaders. That evening, we heard reflections from a Presbyterian minister, a Rabbi, our own Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter, and two nineteen-year-old Muslim women who spoke on behalf of their imam and mosque. I found the offerings of the two young women particularly moving. They spoke of the simple acts of being neighbors that make all the difference – knowing the people who live near you, taking care of dogs and mail while neighbors go out of town – simple acts which build strong relationships. One Muslim woman spoke of the need to get beyond our own comfort zones regularly and spread evidence of our communities working together widely in the news.
Our ethical eating group provided a vegetarian reception after the service, and hundreds of people stayed and had conversations with new friends from all the congregations involved. I was pleasantly surprised at how long people stayed to talk and make connections across our communities. In my experience, many people politely grab a drink and quickly go home after such services, but our fellowship hall was packed for over an hour after the event. I watched as people traded phone numbers and business cards. The youth from the mosque asked me questions about our theology and asked if our youth groups could form a relationship for dialogue and service projects in town.
The preparation for this event was long in the making. I began conversations with area clergy in February about our intentions to host such an event. We had a busy and vibrant few days her last weekend. On Saturday night, we cut the ribbon to dedicate our new building expansion. We had two ingathering Sunday services on Sunday morning, and later that evening joined in prayer with communities from across our area. As our Senior Minister, Rev. Kanter, said in worship a week later, we were proud and moved to be able to express who we want to be and how we wish to serve our community in this multifaith service.